A lot of marketing is like throwing a bunch of balls in the air and hoping they land exactly where you want.
Your balls may include: Your marketing message, email promotions, online services information, qualifying phone calls, social media, online articles, a marketing presentation, and the selling conversation.
If you throw these balls out there randomly, you probably won’t get great results. But if you follow a step-by-step sequence, you’ll get more attention and more meetings with qualified prospects, and land more clients.
For marketing professional services, the following sequence works quite well (most of the time). I’m focusing more on the sequence here, with a few details about the purpose and process of each step.
1. Develop the program or service you want as your primary service offering. Clients buy solutions, not a collection of skills. So, what exactly do you do, how do you do it, and what results can the client expect?
This step may sound obvious, but it’s not unusual for professionals to promote themselves as someone with expertise in a certain area with lots of skills and abilities. Those are important, of course, but that is not what a prospective client buys. Again, they buy solutions to their most pressing challenges.
2. Then write an in-depth “Services Information Page” (learn more about that here) that clearly articulates what your service or program is all about.
One way to do this is by answering all the questions about your services that your prospects may have. I.e., Who do you work with? What is your service? What outcomes does it deliver? What is your approach? How are you different? How does it work? etc.
3. Next, promote your services directly to one prospect at a time. I’ve found that the most effective promotion is proactive, not passive. Passive marketing is throwing a lot of stuff out there and praying for a response… social media posts, online articles, videos, etc., etc.
Proactive marketing is directing your promotion to one prospective client at a time. Ideally, you should have some prior affiliation or connection. I’ve discovered that very, very short emails get the best response most of the time. One approach is to say, “I have a few ideas to share with you that you may find interesting.”
Your aim here is to get a meeting with a qualified prospect who may want or need what you have to offer. This includes past clients, those in your network, referrals, those who belong to associations where you are also a member, people who have attended a talk or webinar you’ve given, etc. This is not marketing to strangers.
4. Once you get a meeting your objective is to qualify as to their needs and interests. Let them know you offer X program or service that gives your clients Y results or outcomes. And find out if they are interested in those outcomes and might be interested in knowing more.
Note that nobody is interested in your consulting, coaching, or training programs or services. They may, however, be interested in the value that these deliver. An initial meeting like this might be 10 or 15 minutes long. You are not selling in this meeting, but setting the groundwork for a selling conversation.
5. If they are interested in the value you are offering and want to know more, set up a more in-depth meeting. Also called a Strategy Session or Selling Conversation. You might say something like, “Based on our conversation, I think I may be able to help you get those outcomes. Shall we set up a time to talk in more depth and see if there’s a fit or not?”
6. Then let them know you’ll send a link to your Services Information Page for them to read before you meet. The more they know about what you offer before you meet with them, the better.
This is the extremely important step that almost everyone misses. They just move on to the selling conversation. My experience is that this one step shortens the selling process because your SIP answers all the important questions about your program or service.
7. Conduct your Strategy Session or Selling Conversation. Learn about their situation, their challenges, and their goals. Then explore if your service or program might be for them. They’ve already read all about your services, so you don’t need a big pitch. Then answer all their questions and ask if they think your service or program might be for them. If so, then ask for the business.
This basic step-by-step process can be used successfully for any professional service. It’s the process I use myself and teach to my clients.
It works because it starts with a small step that doesn’t ask for a big commitment – a short meeting. Then that leads to more information so they better understand what you do and the results they can expect if they work with you.
Finally, if they are interested in getting those results, you engage them in a Selling Conversation and ask for the business.
You can follow this process no matter where your leads come from – referrals, social media, someone finding you on your website, speaking engagements, or reaching out to past clients or those in your network.
What’s important is to follow the sequence and don’t skip any steps. If you try to jump into a Selling Conversation before they really understand what you do, it’s hard because they don’t yet feel comfortable with you.
Or if you send them to your Service Information Page before you’ve had an initial conversation with them, it can feel too impersonal and they either won’t read your information or set up a Selling Conversation with you.
These small steps in the Marketing-Selling Process tend to actually move the process along more quickly with prospects who feel listened to, fully informed, and not pushed into buying from you.
Look at your current marketing-selling process. Are you missing any steps or are you doing them in a different order? Make some adjustments and I predict you’ll land more of your ideal clients.