SEO

5 Client Pitch Tips That Score Contracts

My last article on How to Deliver the Perfect Client Pitch was very well received, and so I’ve decided to follow up with a post on other tactics I use to close sales.

1. Talk Like You Mean Business, Not an Amateur

Your client needs to know you’re an old hat at sales and that you know your product and service inside out. Prove this to them by:

  • Speaking slowly and be brief
  • Asking the right questions that identify the client’s needs
  • Listening more than you talk.

2. Don’t Act Like It’s an Audition – Act Like You’ve Inked the Deal

Your clients are busy people who’ve got businesses to run. Acting like a thought partner will get you ahead of the ‘audition’ phase and straight to planning strategy, and execution, which then leads to the physical signing of your contract or proposal. I stress that isn’t the actual signature that’s important, but rather the psychological buy-in that you must establish in the early phases of engagement.

3. Identify What They Need to Know

You’ve got an arsenal of charts, stats, practiced responses to every objection a client can throw at you and more – Why would you spill the beans if you don’t need to? Don’t talk to your prospect about every client success, or the structure of your team, or even how you go about delivering the service if you don’t need to.

4. You’re Solving Not Selling

Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be sold. As a consultant, aim to solve the client’s problems rather than selling them.

5. Listen, Learn and Revise

Proposals aren’t set in stone when you first pitch them to a client. Mine go through several revisions before one gets signed, not because of alterations to price, but rather due to changes in deliverables, goals, and campaign focus. It’s important to listen to what the client is exactly asking for, and answering them with a solution that fits both worlds.

Tip: Don’t budge on price without adjusting deliverables, as then you’re setting the precedent of discounting the value of your services.

Dev Basu is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal. He owns Powered by Search, a full service internet marketing agency located in Toronto, Canada; and blogs about online marketing for small businesses, search marketing, and all matters in local seo and social media. Catch up with him at his blog, twitter, or connect on Linkedin.

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11 thoughts on “5 Client Pitch Tips That Score Contracts

  1. I’ve been working with small to medium sized firms for SEO for 7 years now so I’ll respond to your great post with my viewpoint (if thats ok):

    Point 1:
    “Listening more than you talk.”
    Great but the client is probably expecting you to do a lot of talking so don’t end up sitting there with both of you acting mute. Ask open questions. Take a Fact Find with you.

    Point 2:
    “You’ve Inked the Deal”
    I had a guy once come in to my office and act like that. I asked for proof of his experience, success and expertise that he claimed but for some reason I remained sceptical and kept probing. He finally admitted he had none. All his credibility went out the window, so be honest, if you’re new to this industry you’ll have your work cut out to act that way and still get business.
    Have some idea of prices for a certain workload, saying you’re not sure and that you’ll get back to them looks highly unprofessional, unprepared and contemptuous of the person you are dealing with.

    Point 3
    “Would you spill the beans if you don’t need to?”
    I advise the client the general process of what we will work on but I do not offer specifics to potential clients. Think about when you buy a new car do you ask a sales person for the blueprint, ask him to strip the engine and provide you with a wiring diagram or do you just want to know about the car overall?
    When I have offered HIGHLY specific SEO details in the past the company has got a free consultation (which you might not be indemnified to give by your indemnity insurers without a contract/signed agreement in place) and I walk away, losing the business to a web designer the client was already dealing with and then instructs on the SEO. Watch how politicians answer questions, they normally don’t give a direct answer if they feel they don’t have to, they are trained to do it. If a client is persistent in being highly specific about the SEO details refer back to the Fact Find questionnaire to get them talking again.

    Point 4
    “…no one likes to be sold”
    Too right, especially me. But how many times have I seen a sales person go on and on because they are too frightened to ask for the business or close the sale in a friendly, helpful manner?
    The client gets bored, loses interest and then you’ve lost the potential of a sale. Most small businesses are owner managed, they would rather be asked and get the process underway than sit there being bamboozled for hours on end. Recognising buying signals is key. If you don’t ask then you can bet the next decent SEO who comes along will!

    Point 5
    “Proposals aren’t set in stone…”
    If a client rejects your proposal then CALL them and ask for feedback on what they thought of your proposal. Determine what issue caused them to reject you. Face up to it, you won’t win the contract every time (but if you do I want to hear from you!).
    I got a proposal rejected today, I rang the person involved for feedback and got told my prices were slightly higher so it was based on a financial reason. The person then admitted she had wanted to take me on based on my portfolio of getting sites ranked organically but the other directors were purely driven by cost. She then advised to check back in 3 months to see where they were. Result! I kept the rapport and the relationship open to potentially pick up the business later on.

    Tip: Ask existing clients for permission to use their feedback, show that to a potential client, let their words on your SEO services do the talking for you. You can give them this at the start as you prepare your Fact Find with them or you can hand towards the end, ask their opinion and then close the sale etc etc

  2. For me nothing closes the deal like a list full of keywords and sites you have in the top 3 search engines and which have been there for years!!!! A

    A Google Top 3 SERP is worth a 1,000 words …

  3. Thanks Dev! I am just starting to test the waters as a part-time consultant and find that the pitch is the toughest part for me. These tips will be very helpful before I go into my next meeting.

  4. I love that you pointed out developing the proposal with the client. A pitch should be about how you can understand a clients needs and then refine your strategies and ideas to meet them.

  5. Great advice Dev! The pitch process is a really great opportunity to set the tone and give the client a good first impression as to what they can expect once signed on. Consistency throughout the pitch process all the way through execution of the services is critical, and as you pointed, building the proposal “with” the client helps in that aspect. It's all about creating a win/win for both parties.

  6. Great advice Dev! The pitch process is a really great opportunity to set the tone and give the client a good first impression as to what they can expect once signed on. Consistency throughout the pitch process all the way through execution of the services is critical, and as you pointed, building the proposal “with” the client helps in that aspect. It's all about creating a win/win for both parties.