Closing prospects can be hard, but it doesn’t need to be.
I’ve spent years working on my onboarding processes and have refined it to the point where I’m literally closing every single prospect that makes an enquiry.
So if you’re struggling to close then you’ll get great value out of this one.
Coffees for closers
I spoke with a coaching client recently who said their close rates were roughly 50% and I thought that was a bit unusual. That essentially means that every second enquiry is lost – which tells me that something is surely wrong.
Now before you say “You can’t control who sends an enquiry”, hear me out.
There are definitely measures you can put into place that will help improve your close rates, and weed out the noise.
My guess in this case, was this particular person was getting shit leads, and quite possibly a lot of them were coming in through Google search. In my experience one of the worst places to get SEO leads is through Google. Ironic isn’t it?
Cold SEO leads through Google fucking suck, because they’re always muppets that want $99 a month SEO and they’ll just keep calling places until they get it.
But in any case, that’s not what this blog post is about. Instead, I want to share with you some of the strategies that I use and how I go about closing almost every single lead that I get.
I’m transparent with my pricing
Firstly I’m super transparent with my pricing.
I have my pricing and my rates on my website.
Admittedly this is was a decision that I struggled with for some time. Do I put my prices on my website? What if I do and people think I’m too expensive? What if I don’t get any work? What if they don’t send an enquiry because they can already see my prices before we’ve even spoken.
I reached out to a few other colleagues working in the SEO space and here’s what they recommended “No don’t put your prices on your website you’ll scare people away”
You know what happened?
I kept getting bullshit calls from people with no budget.
- “Hi can you tell me how much you charge?”
- “Hi how much do your services cost? Oh okay, I’ll think about it. Bye”
- “We can’t afford that, we’re looking for something good and cheap”
- “Sorry too much”
I’m not interested in working with someone if they’re just price shopping. I’m also not interested in working with someone who wants to make a decision based upon price alone.
They’re just not going to be a good fit for me, and they shouldn’t be a good fit for you either.
I can tell you right now that putting the prices on my website was one of the best things I ever did – because it stopped all of the nonsense. I had no more stupid enquiries from tire kickers asking me to do SEO for $500 a month and expecting results in 2 months.
In addition to that, my rates are a key part of the conversation I have with prospects early on in the discussion.
I’m not interested in sitting on the phone with someone for 2 hours talking about their websites, and data and keywords and search volume and content and everything else unless I’ve covered my rates.
I don’t say that to be arrogant, I say it because there’s a big problem in this industry in that pricing varies so greatly between service providers.
You can be on one website looking at prices and they might be charging $300 a month, then look at another website and they’re charging $4,000 a month. For business owners this is incredibly confusing, and what makes it even worse is that they don’t understand the difference – all they see is the price.
So being completely upfront and transparent with your pricing is always best. Otherwise you’ll end up kissing frogs all day and not getting any decent leads.
I follow a structured onboarding process
I think this part of being able to close leads is the most important.
I follow a structured onboarding process and this is one that I’ve spoken about about at length. Infact I wrote a blog post about it which you can read here which talks about pre qualifying prospects.
I keep what I call a telephone run sheet on my desk that has a set series of questions in it that I like to ask a prospect when they call me.
There’s 2 reasons why I use this run sheet.
- Firstly to frame the call and stay in control of the conversation.
- Secondly to ensure a good fit
Let’s look at both.
By framing the call l’m essentially ensuring I have structure to the discussion.
If you’re not careful, you can often find yourself on a call with a prospect talking about all sorts of things, or worse still, finding yourself looking at their site, keywords, data, google analytics and god knows what else, only to have them say “Okay thanks bye”, and you’ll hang up the phone and think “WTF just happened?”
It’s really important that you stay on topic and control the conversation – otherwise you’ll go off on all sorts of tangents. The phone run sheet ensures you do just that. You structure the conversation and stay in control asking set questions, that move you towards closing the lead.
Once I’ve been through the run sheet with the prospect and asked them key questions, (if they’re a good fit) then I’ll move on to my sales pitch and presentation.
I’ve spoken about this before and why sales presentation is much more effective than a PDF proposal. I can tell you right now if you’re still sending PDF proposals then your close rates are going to suck big time.
The whole point of the sales presentation is to help educate the client, demonstrate value, set expectations and answer any questions they might have before you ask for the job. When I host these presentations, the client is usually ready to sign up before I’ve even finished. They work so well, that for anyone not doing them, it’s a massive advantage.
I’m brutally honest
I have a bit of a problem when it comes to speaking with prospects on the phone, in that I’m brutally honest.
Sometimes it’s bordering on being a bit rude.
Not because I’m trying to be an asshole, but because I actually care about getting results, and I want them to understand that up until now, most of what they’ve been told is bullshit.
I find myself on the phone all the time with prospects saying things like –
- “If you only intend on doing 3 months, then find someone else to work with”
- “Your website is a mess, you need to fix it, or we can’t work together”
- “You’re just wasting your time if you expect to pay $500 a month”
- “This website is probably one of the worst I’ve seen”
Yes, I’ve actually said things like that, and often, there’s been an uncomfortable silence from the other end of the phone.
But look, I’m not interested in sugar coating something that’s fucked, just to sign someone up, only to have problems later on.
I’d much rather just say what needs to be said, right now, and get it out in the open, rather than be having an awkward conversation later about why the campaign isn’t working.
And guess what? It works.
I’ve had clients that have worked with me for years that have said “John, when we first spoke, I didn’t appreciate what you said. It was hard to hear, but looking back, it’s exactly what we needed to hear, and I thank you for it. Our business is killing it now thanks to you being so honest with us right away”
One thing that I make a habit of saying to prospects is this – “Listen, I’m not interested in taking your money unless I know I can get a positive return on investment”
When you’re brutally honest with someone like that it becomes obvious that you’re more interested in actually helping them rather than just asking for their credit card details.
I’ve never considered myself a salesperson, I’m just not interested in bullshitting people. I want to be honest and tell the prospect what they need to hear and if they’re onboard with it, then great – I know I can help them. If they’re not, then I can’t help them and chances are they’ll just bounce from one agency to the next chasing stupid shortcuts.
The bottom line is this – don’t be afraid to be brutally honest if you’re genuinely interested in helping them. They may not appreciate being slapped in the face initially, but long term they’ll thank you for it.
I talk about revenue, not rankings
This is probably why I’ve been able to do so well, when it comes to closing leads.
I talk about revenue, not rankings.
I don’t want clients that are going to obsess over rankings. I don’t want clients that want to call me at 2am asking why they’re now in position 2 when yesterday they were in position 1 – and I make this very clear during our first call.
Instead I’m more interested in the metrics that matter – sales, leads and conversions.
I find when you move the discussion away from rankings, and you start talking about helping business owners get customers and make sales – it’s a massive advantage because chances are they’ve been on the phone all morning with a dozen other SEO companies that have done nothing but talk about fucking keywords, and canonical tags and meta description tags, and site speed and all that technical stuff that business owners couldn’t give a shit about.
So what do I say?
Here’s a few examples of what I might say to a prospect –
- “Im unlike other SEO agencies in that I want to focus our efforts on helping you get more customers”
- “There’s no point being first page in Google if your phones not ringing”
- “I don’t want to spend hours on the phone with you talking about rankings”
- “I want to get to a point where I can say, Okay Bob, this month you got X number of leads and made Z dollars – not you’re now first page for Fluffy Bunnies, because that’s meaningless”
I talk in a way that resonates with business owners and it works.
What makes it even easier is when you demonstrate how you’ve done this for other businesses.
You can do this very easily, just like I do within a sales presentation where you can show slides of clients that you’ve worked with in the past and how you taken them from $10,000 a month to $100,000 a month. When you approach it this way, signing up new leads at $2,000+ a month is an absolute breeze.
Interested in working with me?
I can show you how you can setup your own highly profitable SEO business, working from home in your underpants just like I do making half a million dollars a year. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch and lets do this.