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By Robert Middleton – ActionPlan Marketing

Close to twenty years ago I was meeting with a client in my office in Palo Alto California.

We were talking about where he was in the process of attracting a new client. 

I started to spontaneously draw a picture that turned out to be a baseball diamond. It was the first sketch of my Marketing Ball Model. Later that evening I drew a version of it in my computer and have been using it ever since to explain to independent professionals how marketing works.

You go around the baseball diamond base-by-base until you arrive home with a new client. And in-between the bases there are additional steps you need to take. 

Recently I've been drawing diagrams for clients via Zoom video as I work with them, to explain various aspects of the marketing process. 

Now I have a new model. Not one that replaces marketing ball, but one that explains in a more focused way how independent professionals find prospects and turn them into clients. 

It's not an original model; it's as old as the hills: a ladder. But I think you'll find it helpful because it builds on the recent articles I've been writing about direct outreach and marketing conversations. 

The most important thing to understand about this ladder model is "process and sequence." There are certain things you must do in a certain way and in a certain order to reach your desired outcome. Use a different process or sequence and you won't get the desired results. 

With a Ladder Model we start at the bottom. 

1. PLAN - PREPARE

Before you even start connecting with prospective clients you need to plan and prepare your marketing. That means developing a marketing message, and writing marketing materials such as a core-issue article and website. And then you need to figure out ways to get the word out to the right prospective clients. This builds a solid ladder that will support you in your marketing efforts. 

2. REACH OUT

Next, you'll choose a number of ways to reach out to prospective clients, such as by networking, sending emails, making calls, giving presentations to groups and asking for referrals. Your goal here is simple: to connect in such a way that prospective clients are motivated to respond with interest. That's all you want at first; you're still many steps before converting someone into a paying client. 

3. FOLLOW-UP

This is the step that's usually avoided the most. Once you've connected with someone through your outreach marketing, your goal is to have a conversation. Again, the purpose of this conversation is not to sell, but to discover if there is a possible need and want for your services. Your goal here is to agree to a meeting where you can explore in more depth. 

4. INFORM

In my experience, this is the step that almost everyone misses. We often assume that if we connected, followed up and had a conversation, the prospective client already understands what we do. The truth is, they only have a vague idea. This is why, after I set up a meeting, I next send them some detailed information about my services and also a questionnaire for them to fill out. 

5. EXPLORE

Now the prospect has some interest, knows much more about what I do and has shared some information about themselves, the ground is set for an exploratory meeting to discover if what I offer and what they need is a fit. Mostly this meeting includes questions about their situation and challenges, but most importantly, about the outcomes and results they are looking for. 

6. PROPOSE

At the end of this exploratory conversation I'll ask if what I offer feels like a good fit for achieving the results they're looking for. Then we discuss my fees and see if they fit my prospect's budget. If you are selling to a larger company or organization, a written proposal is usually required. This sums up their desired objectives, measures of success and your process for producing results. 

7. NEGOTIATE

Negotiation means finding a match between what the client wants, what you can deliver and what they are able to pay. When it comes to offering professional services, this is usually pretty simple and fast. If you're selling to a large company, it can often be drawn out and complex. You're always going for a win-win where it works well for everyone. 

8. NEW CLIENT

If you've gone through all of these steps and done them well, you'll attract more clients, more consistently. But marketing is never finsihed! Taking care of clients, meeting their needs, keeping them informed and happy is the key to earning favorable testimonials, case studies and referrals. And, of course, this 8-step process never ends, but continues with each prospective client.

How to make this process work for you 

Now you have a workable, proven marketing process. Next, you need to learn all the detailed steps to make it work consistently. 

What you do to reach out, what words and images you use in your communication and how you follow up can mean the difference between a few meetings or many meetings. The information you send and how you conduct your exploratory sessions determines the percentage of prospects who turn into paying clients. 

It's simple, but not necessarily easy. 

If you want to learn how to make this process work for you, a good place to start is the More Clients Club with several marketing courses and tutorials that don't just outline the things you need to do in your marketing, but explains exactly how to do them to get the results you want. 

It took me about 10 years to learn how to market my professional services effectively. With the More Clients Club you can master this process in much less time. Whenever you need more clients, you simply apply the step-by-step processes. 

Just go here to learn more about the Club: http://actionplan.com/fasttrack 

Cheers, Robert 

Comments 

 
0 # Gary Slavin 2017-03-28 09:20
Hello Robert,

Excellent model. However, you have combined marketing and sales. I know that's a bit picky, but there is always so much confusion, especially among independent professionals, between marketing and sales. The first two steps on your ladder are marketing and the rest involve sales. Together you have a great model for marketing and selling services. The point is that there is no OR in marketing AND sales. You need both to consistently create new clients.
Gary
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0 # Robert Middleton 2017-03-28 10:42
HI Gary, you have a point here. However I did this for a reason. I would actually prefer that people forget about marketing and selling completely. They are labels. Labels have limitations. And the labels of marketing and selling are loaded and come with a lot of emotional baggage for many people. I like to think of steps one takes to win new clients. In this process there are really only two prime activities - speaking and writing. And then you can break those down to these 8 specific steps. Cheers, Robert
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Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients.  He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.