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Turn Business Leads into Appointments
By Robert Middleton













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.

The four categories going, from cold to warm are: Affiliation - Familiarity -
Information and Experience. 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.

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 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: Story written by Robert Middleton of
Action Plan Marketing.
Please visit Robert's web site at
Action Plan for additional marketing articles and
resources on marketing for professional service businesses.
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