selling inbound for the first time is tough
If you're a marketing or digital agency and are just getting started with Inbound Marketing you probably already know 2 things. 1) It's a competitive industry. Chances are you're not the only marketing firm in your area that is offering inbound services. 2) Inbound Marketing is a lot to learn and apply. There are a lot of different aspects, concepts and applications that you need to learn and be proficient at before you can really begin to offer Inbound to current, past or new clients.
Let's say you've done your homework and are applying Inbound to your own business. You're now ready to start offering Inbound marketing services outside your company. Great job, but now what? Now it's time to bag your first client, something that is much easier said than done.
Someone may come to your digital agency looking for SEO help, but really what they need is a comprehensive way to get leads. Now it's your job to educate them, show your expertise and offer solutions. Bottom line? It's tough. It's very tough when trying to sell anything for the first time. It's even more difficult to sell and educate at the same time and with Inbound often this is the case. Here are few helpful tips for overcoming some of the obstacles of selling Inbound Marketing services.
1. You have 0 real experience
You're new at this. You may have experience designing, creating and selling websites. You may even have experience doing some basic marketing activities like SEO. But let's be real here, you have 0 real experience in Inbound. Hopefully you've implemented Inbound for your own agency and are practicing it daily, but when it comes to applying Inbound to another company, your tank is empty.
That's OK! You have to start somewhere and every business ever has a 1st client and your business is no different. Convincing someone you've never worked with before to be your first Inbound client can also prove to be very difficult. If a company is in the market for Inbound services they are most likely going to do some shopping and experience will be one of the big items they use to evaluate their options. This can make it difficult for a first time Inbound agency to land these jobs, so we suggest a different approach.
Sell to your current clients. This could be a web design client, SEO client, maybe you're doing some web management for a customer and think they may be a good fit. The idea is simple: you have report with these clients. You're not trying to develop trust in the 1 hour sales meetings you're having with a potential client because the trust is already there. When approaching your own clients you can be honest and transparent with them about where you're at. You can say "this is a new service we have, it's super exciting and effective and we'd love to do it for you!" and those words will hold some good weight.
2. be affordable
Be affordable. Notice how I didn't say, 'be the cheapest' or 'be the price leader'. The reason I didn't say that has to do with what we talked about above. It's easy to get caught up in the fact that you have 0 experience and try to convince yourself that the only way someone would work with you is if you were the cheapest and they were looking to save money. This is simply not true.
However, you do want to be affordable. If you're getting into Inbound marketing for the first time and trying to charge like the top 5 Inbound agencies in the country, good luck. It's probably not going to happen. There is a reason they get to charge what they do. They have results, case studies, compelling content and a big time customer base behind every sales meeting they go into. You have none of that. You need to use price as an effective sales tool. Yeah you may be new, but you're the cheaper option. You may not have the case studies, but you're the lowest financial risk. This doesn't matter to every potential client you approach, but for some price is a huge factor and one that you can capitalize on.
Price is a difficult thing that all companies will struggle with at some point in their history and when you start with Inbound you may have issues with this. The amount of time and effort that goes into providing Inbound as a retainer service for another company is extensive but justifies the price. However, in the beginning you may not feel like you're getting paid enough for your services. Stay the course, get some clients under you belt, have success and you'll be able to renegotiate those retainers. If you do your job well in the first year, the value of Inbound is a easy sell in the subsequent years and larger retainers are much easier to obtain.
3. be flexible with terms
This was probably one of the hardest things for us to grip with. If you're experienced in Inbound you know that Inbound takes time. It takes time to get your strategy together. It takes time to develop buyer personas. It takes time to create unique and effective content and promote it in your blog. It takes time to implement and optimize for search engines are start ranking. Everything in Inbound takes time and convincing someone that knows nothing about it to sign a 12 month contract with your company isn't going to happen.
So here's an easy tip. Be flexible with terms. Try to get them to commit to at least 3 months of steady Inbound services (not including the 30-45 days of on-boarding). They may not start generating tons of leads in that time period but they'll be able to get comfortable with the processes. It will give you time to show them the method behind the madness. It's also a good time to get them familiar with the tools and reporting process. They want to see how you'll be showing them results. What are good KPI's? What kind of conversion rates should we be aiming for? Use this time to set goals.
This really is the best time to demonstrate your expertise and show them how your efforts are going to lead to success in the long run. Help them learn the Inbound methodology and why Inbound is a more effective form of sales and marketing. It's important that the client be involved in learning what Inbound is all about. They more engaged the client is, the more value they are going to see in the processes when they have success. Just get them in the door and drinking the cool-aid and after the first year when you've 'WOWED' them you can start talking longer term contracts.