Marketing Conversations That Lead to More Clients
There are so many parts to marketing as an Independent Professional that it can be hard to know where to focus your efforts and build your skills.
I talked about this two weeks ago, but I’d like to focus a little more on one area that comes into every aspect of marketing.
And that’s “Marketing Conversations.”
You could define a marketing conversation as any interaction you have with a prospective client where you talk about your business and the prospect’s business.
The purpose of any marketing conversation is to make a connection where ultimately the prospect becomes interested in doing business with you.
Here are my foolproof guidelines on having successful marketing conversations.
1. Anyone could be a prospect. When someone asks you what you do, they might be a good potential client. So you want to answer in a way that engages and interests them. Don’t just say, “I’m a management consultant” and hope they jump up and down with excitement!
2. Instead, when you answer, use a problem-oriented or solution-oriented “Audio Logo” that includes 2 elements: Who you work with and how you help them.
Problem-oriented: “I work with leaders in high-tech firms who don’t have the level of productivity they know is possible.”
Solution-oriented: “I work with leaders in high-tech firms who are looking for higher productivity from their employees.”
You have to test audio logos to see what works best. Ultimately settle on the message that gets the best response.
3. Pause and wait for a response. The biggest mistake you can make here is to talk too much. Don’t do that. Take the attention off yourself and listen to what the prospect says.
If they say something like “Oh, how do you do that?” or “What approaches do you take to get those results?” then you have an opening to say more.
4. But you don’t want to respond the way most people respond. Most say something like, “Well, we do various workshops and programs and also do some coaching.” This kind of response (which, by the way is the most common), is all about your process and all about you. Sure it’s what you do, but it doesn’t answer the hidden question: “What’s in it for me?”
You also position yourself as a commodity when you answer with your process. You sound like every management consultant in the world. Not good for your marketing or memorability!
5. Answer with a story, instead: “Well, perhaps the best way to explain what I do is to give you an example of a client I worked with recently. I worked with a team in a company that was very dysfunctional and productivity was way down. I did some work with them, improved communication and reduced conflict and now they are regarded as the one of the most effective teams in the company.”
So you need to pick out a few good stories, often called Cinderella Stories: “This is how bad it was. Then we came in and provided the help they needed. And now things are great.”
But these need to be real stories representing real clients that you produced real results for. Someone just told me such a story recently, and although I wasn’t a potential client for him, I completely got how powerful and valuable his services were. I actually got excited because of the way he told his story.
If you can’t get this across, why do you think they’d be interested in anything else?
6. Continue with the conversation, mostly putting your attention on the prospect and asking about their situation, their goals and challenges. Don’t jump in with how great your services are and how they’d be a perfect client for you.
There are so many possibilities in a marketing conversation when it gets to this point that it’s impossible to give step-by-step instructions, but if you focus more on listening than talking, you’ll always do better. If they want to know more, tell more, but avoid going on and on about everything you do.
7. As a marketing conversation winds up, there are multiple possibilities. One, you don’t see a possible connection with this prospect, for whatever reason, and you don’t follow up. Two, you see some possibility but you’re not sure, and Three, you see a real possibility to work with this person.
For possibilities Two and Three, let them know you have an article you think they’d be interested in and ask if you can send it. You might also ask if you can add them to your e-list. For possibility number Three, you should also say you’d like to talk with them more and will get back to them.
8. Then the final step is to follow up with number Three prospects. Call them, email them, and persist until you reach them. And in this call, let them know you think you might be able to help them in some way or the other, but that you’d have to speak in more depth. That, in turn, can lead to a selling conversation or what I often call a “Strategy Session.”
The purpose of marketing is to get Strategy Sessions. That’s where marketing ends and selling begins. And it almost always takes some kind of marketing conversation before you get to a selling conversation, even if someone called you from a strong referral. Don’t just jump into a Strategy Session until you know that this prospect is well-qualified.
If you follow this approach to connecting with prospects through marketing conversations, I promise you’ll get more Strategy Sessions and convert more of them into good, paying clients.Share