One of the most frequent questions I get is,
“How do I turn leads into appointments… how do I connect with or follow up with prospective clients and get a meeting with them where they are sincerely interested in exploring how I can help them?”
If you knew the answer to this, marketing would be a whole lot easier, wouldn’t it? When you’re actually meeting with a prospective client, your marketing has been successful and the sales process starts.
For some strange reason, everyone thinks of getting appointments in two ways that are polar opposites: One is having a prospect call you because you were referred to them. The other is making a cold call and setting up an appointment.
The truth is, the first one is rather rare and the second one is very hard. The good news is that there’s an approach in-between that you can do much more frequently and easily with better results.
The first thing you need to do is sort out your potential leads. Not all leads are created equal. Some are warm and some are cold. You want to sort your leads into four categories and then take actions to turn the cold leads into warm ones.
Four Categories of Leads
The four categories going, from cold to warm are:
Let me explain how each of these categories works.
Affiliation – These leads are prospects you don’t know yet, but have some connection with. They know someone you know. Or they belong to an organization you belong to.
Familiarity – These are leads you already have some familiarity with. They don’t know you well but you’ve had some prior association. Maybe they’ve met you through networking or you’ve talked on the phone once or twice.
Information – These prospects know you better. They’ve received and read information about you and your business. They’ve visited your web page, read an article by you, or are subscribers to your newsletter or eZine.
Experience – These prospects have actually experienced you. You’ve had a more in-depth conversation, they’ve been long-time subscribers and read more of your information, or have attended a presentation or teleclass. They know and like you.
Now who are you most likely to get an appointment with? Someone who you just have an affiliation with or someone who has experienced you and feels they know you? The answer is obvious.
But what if the best connections you have are only affiliations? And maybe you don’t even have a lot of those! Where do you start with getting appointments?
Simple. Your marketing should be focused on moving prospects from Affiliation to Familiarity to Information to Experience as fast and as smoothly as possible.
Turning Leads into Appointments
Let’s create a scenario…
If you have few affiliations to begin with, you create them. You join organizations that your prospects belong to. And you contact friends and associates who know people who may be good prospects.
Now you want to leverage those affiliations into familiarity. You don’t want to just call them and try to set up appointments. Most aren’t willing to do so, because you’re a stranger to them. This is why cold calls are, for the most part, frustratingly futile.
Instead, send an introductory letter followed by an introductory call. Mention your affiliation (organization or friend) and your Value Proposition (The Ultimate Outcome you deliver to your clients):
“This is Roger Morton of Pro-Mark Strategies. I’m a new member of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m a consultant who works with professional firms who don’t have as much business as they’d like (your Value Proposition). I visited your web site and was impressed by some of the projects you’ve done. Is this a good time to speak for a few minutes?”
OK, you’ve broken the ice. That wasn’t so hard was it?
Of course, there are other things you can do. Go to meetings of the chamber and meet a lot of people. Introduce yourself. Find out who’s who. Get involved. Volunteer for committees. Now you have more than an affiliation – you’re building familiarity.
Next you want to leverage this familiarity and provide information to those who are qualified prospects. Do you have a good article you can circulate? “Ten Strategies for Building a Professional Firm Faster” – five or six pages of solid information with case studies that demonstrate how you’ve applied these strategies to client projects.
Then make it a game to get this article to as many prospects as possible. After making an introductory call, ask if you can send the article. When you meet someone through networking, offer to send a copy. If you have a newsletter or eZine, ask if they’d like to see it.
Ask! Don’t wait for them to ask you.
With all this information in circulation you’re not a stranger anymore. And if you can focus on increasing your familiarity and information quotient with prospective clients, you are warming them up for the next step – experiencing you.
For those who have information about you, give them an experience of you by inviting them to an introductory workshop, a presentation at the chamber, or a teleclass. You now have a list of real prospects, and you can send an invitation by mail or email (and it won’t be regarded as junk or spam).
And once they attend, they’ll be relatively easy to follow up with:
“Hi, this is Roger Morton from Pro-Mark Strategies. Thanks so much for attending the presentation on “Strategies for Growing a Professional Firm.” Is this a good time to talk? Great. I’d be interested in knowing which ideas in the presentation you thought would apply best to your firm…”
And before you know it, you have an appointment with a qualified prospect who was a stranger only a short time ago. And how do you think this sales meeting will go? I promise it will go a whole lot better than meeting with someone who doesn’t know you from Adam.
The More Clients Bottom Line:
You can either sit by your phone and wait for referrals to call you; call strangers who don’t want to hear from you; or you can methodically cultivate your prospects, moving them from Affiliation to Familiarity to Information to Experience to Appointment. It’s your move.
About the Author:
- A Seven-Step Model for Marketing Professional Services
- Lead Generation: Where to Buy Your Sales Leads
- Forget Cold Calling; Referral Selling is the Best Sales Strategy
- Telephone Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
- 13 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid