Show your empathy during this initial conversation by sharing your own experiences, and find a way to respectfully acknowledge the legitimacy of their skepticism. This is a chance for you to win their trust by showing you understand.
Arm yourself with evidence
There’s nothing more convincing than evidence, so you’ll need to gather some hard data to make your case.
Remember that at this point, you shouldn’t be thinking about selling your service, but instead about genuinely trying to convince this person’s mind. You won’t ever be able to make a pitch to someone who doesn’t believe in or understand SEO in the first place.
As you research, keep their fears in mind. What specifically did they tell you about why they don’t believe in SEO? Look for data, case studies, and thought-leadership examples that you can use to counter their misconceptions.
Ideally, you’ll have some time between your initial conversation to do this research. But often, you’ll need to make your case straight away before the prospect walks away. It’s a good idea to keep up to date on best practices, case studies, and other examples that you can cite at the drop of a hat.
Make it personal
Throwing studies and statistics at someone who doesn’t believe in SEO won’t be a winning strategy.
In addition to using general research to help change their mind, find a way to put the information into the context of your client or manager’s business.
Start by looking for case studies from the same industry.
You can also look at competitors to find keywords they are ranking for. If you can demonstrate how much traffic they’re getting from those keywords, you’ll already have the foundation of a compelling case.
If you’re working on convincing a manager, then ask if you can have a small project to start on. See if they’ll give you a chance to optimize one page, or make one technical change to the site. You may have to offer to do this for free or in your spare time, but if it works, you’ll have a much better chance of winning them over in the long-term.
Remember, convincing takes time
If someone holds deep convictions about SEO (or any subject matter), it won’t be easy to convince them in just one conversation.
You’ll be much more likely to win them over if you play a long game, routinely sending them information and guidance—without crossing the line and becoming an annoyance.
One of the best ways to do this is through LinkedIn. Routinely sharing thoughtful, useful posts proving the value of SEO will slowly chip away at the resolve of LinkedIn followers who are non-believers.
If LinkedIn isn’t an option, consider writing blogs showcasing your insights and sending those to your prospect, or occasionally forward them insights from your favorite leaders in the SEO industry.
Be careful not to overwhelm them with information—showing up in their inbox every single day will feel more like hounding and less like convincing.
With some empathy, evidence, and patience, you’ll be able to turn any SEO skeptic into an evangelist.