How to Prepare for an SEO Sales Call

I was born a salesperson. Growing up in Texas, my dad made me work at Traders Village, selling everything from belt buckles to hat pins (and every other trinket you can imagine).

You don’t have to know much about the product. You just need to know how to haggle the prices.

Selling SEO services is different. You must have a deep understanding of the product/service you represent. Most importantly, you must understand how (or if) your SEO efforts can benefit the prospects you are talking to.

If you’re not one of the agencies that sends out a single post to show off the different SEO packages they offer, you’re trying to customize an approach to your potential clients. In my opinion, we should do some heavy lifting before making our initial calls with potential clients. This article will provide some ideas on how to handle the initial call.

Initial questions to ask a potential client

First, I recommend that you ask the prospect to provide some initial information so that you can do the homework for the initial call. It is helpful if the potential client has already submitted an RFP detailing the scope, capabilities of the in-house team, and availability of SEO efforts. If they don’t complete the RFP, you can download the SEO RFP on my company blog and redesign/use it as a template for what you might want to submit to them.

Instead of this kind of information, you should start by asking (at least) these four questions:

  1. What do you hope to achieve with these SEO efforts?
  2. Who are some of the competitors that you think are doing a good job?
  3. What kind of internal support do you have for this effort?
  4. What (if anything) have you done historically for SEO? (Maybe they have an existing business?)

With this information, you can dig into things and determine how the call will be formed.


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Do a search

I start by looking at the potential website. I want to check to see if there are any oddities. Let’s call this a “mini audit”.

Should you present a “working product” in a sales call? Honestly, I’ve debated this question back and forth for many years. I settled on the idea that people still don’t trust SEO, and we should do more to build trust (and educate). So I see this as “you have to give before you get”. It is good karma.

What is involved in a micro-audit? Few things:

Crawl the prospect’s website

I use Semrush. I limit the crawl to 500 pages, which is just enough to get a feel of the “breakdown” of their website.

SEMRush Audit Screen Capture

Perform site queries on their own (and their competitors’) domain

When running site queries, if you are unfamiliar, search Google for site: www.sitename.com and/or site: sitename.com. You’ll see the URLs that Google knows.

An example of something you might look for is finding subdomains when searching other than www (eg staging.sitename.com). You may find other strange URLs or subdomains showing up in the results, so look at them critically.

Highlighting these opportunities to clean up search results and make their brand shine may lead to a new customer relationship. They will appreciate your ability to be curious.

Investigating their organic performance

I ran a Semrush Organic Overview of the odds and their competitors.

Be sure to filter to exclude any mentions of the brand:

Filter example

How much “cost of traffic” do they perceive versus their competitors? Here’s what that looks like, comparing Travelocity to Expedia:

Example Travelocity Traffic Cost (Value)
Example of Expedia Traffic Cost (Value)

The “Cost of Traffic” metric is Semrush’s attempt to provide a “Cost of Replacement” metric to show the estimated value of your organic presence (for example, if you had to pay for this traffic via Google Ads, what would that cost you per month.)

How many keywords rank in the top ten (versus its competitors)? Are these ‘good’ or unimportant keywords?

Run a domain comparison report (I’m using Ahrefs for this) to determine if a potential customer is a competitor to those sites/domains.

Ahrefs مجال domain comparison example

Let’s say you see a competitor that is doing well with their links. In this case, you should quickly run a Site Explorer report through Ahrefs, check out some “best links” (sort by domain authority) and see specific examples of how your competitor has gained these valuable links. If there is something about your potential business, share it on the call as an example of what they might want to do.

Ahrefs Site Explorer; Dive into specific examples

Is there a reason Expedia has links from CDC.gov and PrivacyShield.gov, while Travelocity does not? At a minimum, you can create some dialogue to learn more about it.

Your goal in doing all of the above is to help determine if the SEO investment is viable. Let’s say you notice that many of their competitors have significant organic search presence (greater than you are likely to have), yet their domain authority is roughly the same. In this case, one could argue that the potential is there. They need to make a better website, create better content, or fix the technical stuff that gets in their way.

Make the call

The more visible the effort many marketers see as the “dark arts,” the better. The more people understand how SEO works, the more likely they are to invest in it.

If it remains confusing, they are more likely to opt for the cheaper (single-post) SEO plan.

For this reason, I usually host these calls via GoToMeeting. I’ll share my screen, share my research, and answer their questions and answer them directly (maybe even by doing additional research on the call with them).

The idea of ​​a mini-review is not to give up everything. The idea is to show an example of how you might look at things you might want to address while engaging with SEO (and show you’re able to find opportunities).

Example from the real world

I recently received an inquiry from an e-commerce company. They were sure they would hit Google’s core update in July 2021. I confirmed via Semrush that they had lost an important presence in Google. I also confirmed via archive.org that they made substantial changes to their website’s navigation structure at the same time.

So, was it a Google update? Or, as is often the case, they were not aware that a fileThe navigational changes they made affected their organic existence.

I gave them this free advice, hoping that they would decide that I am an honest broker, and because of that, they will want to do business with my agency.

If they don’t deal with us and take the free advice and work, I suspect they are by no means the type that I would like to work with.

At least I did my part to spread some positive mojo. Give before you get.

Summary: SEO selling starts long before the sales call

When selling SEO, be prepared. Preparation is one of the keys to getting new clients. How to do it by:

  • Understand your expectations: Their wants, needs, resources, and SEO history.
  • Do your research: Research issues and opportunities for SEO.
  • Show your professionalism: Your expertise, honesty, practicality and curiosity.

Once these SEO services are successfully sold, the real work can begin. Go ahead and help your clients succeed!


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of the search engine. Staff authors are listed here.


New in search engine land

About the author

Mark Jackson is the President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, an agency founded in Dallas, Texas in 2005 that specializes in SEO services, paid media services (search/view/social/video/Amazon), local listing management and conversion rate optimization. Mark has been a co-founder of the Search Engine Marketing Association of Dallas-Fort Worth and the Search Engine Marketing Association of Kansas City, and has been a contributor to Search Engine Conferences, ClickZ, Pubcon and Search Engine Strategies conferences.

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