To link marketing with sales and get more clients you need two key things working for you – mutual attraction and relationship building. In marketing yourself and what you do, you’re essentially dating your potential new client in order to seal the deal.
A key reason many professional services fail to grow is because they don’t know how to attract and nurture the right audience, link marketing with sales, and single out one core service, programme or product that matches what an ideal client wants.
The most successful relationships are built on trust, respect and achievement of common goals. This is no less true in business to get more clients.
Another reason is that a lot of professionals simply hate selling or pitching an offer. But this really is only an issue because there’s a mismatch between your marketing and your sales.
First, you need to make sure the leads generated by your marketing are a good match for your sales offer. And second, you need to close the gap through effective relationship building.
Imagine you catch someone’s eye and they smile back at you. You start chatting and cover off the basics – name, what you do for a living, what do you do for fun…
You then realise you have a common interest or two and you start to feel excited. Then five minutes later, they ask you to marry them. Creepy right? You’d run a mile.
In business – especially B2B – that’s what it feels like when the link between marketing and sales is too short. Jumping the gun with your sales offer is a very bad call.
From the moment that someone engages with you to the results you help them achieve, the impact you have on their thinking, business or life is what builds a trusted relationship, fosters client satisfaction and generates customer loyalty down the line.
Laying Foundations that Link Marketing with Sales
I’ve worked with hundreds of self-employed professionals and small businesses over the years and notice that many invest heavily in marketing and sales training and tactics (focusing on websites, social media marketing, email marketing, sales teams etc).
However, rarely have such businesses invested in developing a clear and compelling brand message and sales process that actually works consistently to bring in high quality leads and convert them seamlessly into clients.
Being value-driven is an important mindset for success here. That means having a fundamental commitment to create meaningful outcomes for your client. Usually, for service professionals this is second nature, but it doesn’t always translate into a seamless journey for your customer.
The best strategy to link marketing with sales and get more clients is to take time to build the customer relationship in similar vein to how you’d build a romantic relationship through dating. That way you pull a person towards you rather than push them away.
To start a relationship, you first need to attract the right person and be attractive to them. You then move to engage in conversation, educate each other on what you do, what you like, what you’re looking for and so on.
Essentially, relationship building is a kind of client dating process – step-by-step, one conversation, one trust-building activity at a time.
I call this the Engage-Educate-Enrol pathway. You can certainly speed the process up if you’re keen to progress the relationship.
Critical Levers for Attracting and Nurturing Clients
From my business improvement work, I identified seven critical levers for success that help link marketing with sales and get more clients. These “dimensions” form a curriculum framework for courses in the iSuccess Business Academy.
ALIGNING, TARGETING & POSITIONING
Attracting new clients comes down to how successfully you align your brand positioning with the needs of your target market.
Look to align in spirit, so you have a common connection with what you stand for, what you do and why you do it. And then consider your unique value proposition in terms of helping your client achieve the outcome they want.
When you integrate a clear message about what you do and what you offer with an efficient value-driven marketing system, you can move the process along pretty quickly.
BRANDING & PRICING
Next, make sure that what you’re offering is packaged and priced so it’s attractive and appeals to your intended (customer). Choose one area of expertise you want to become well known for doing well, create a signature programme around it and focus your marketing predominantly on that.
That doesn’t mean making it the cheapest or discounting. It means matching the value of what you deliver to a fair price your ideal client is willing to pay.
SYSTEMATISING & SCALING
A single methodology that can help bring this all together is to create a webinar funnel. People provide their name and email to opt-in (so you can start the conversation with them in a thoughtful, deliberate way). They are introduced to you and can interact on the webinar and towards the end you make an offer and provide a call to action – one-step via a simple signup & pay process or two-step via a free session & application process.
Harnessing Education as a Tool to Get More Clients
Taking an education-based approach to your marketing helps ease the sales process and client onboarding because the material you provide fast tracks the buyer’s decision-making journey.
Their education of what you can deliver is helped along in terms and concepts that they can understand, and is part of the process of how you assist them. Whether you deliver your solution directly via one-on-one, in-person services or via group programmes or online courses becomes irrelevant.
Client dating works much like regular dating. At the start, you aim to attract and engage the people you think are a good fit for what you do – an ideal match – and then you “court” them. If there’s a connection, you’ll keep in touch and keep them interested until you ask them to take the next step with you.
Most people will hire you when they have an urgent or pressing need, they want to feel they’re moving in the right direction. Your products, programmes and strategy sessions are all ways you can demonstrate you understand and can help them. It creates a connection and builds the trust required for them to make the decision that they need you.
Of course, if there’s no initial invitation, no connection or follow up, people will not move forward and they’ll disappear or fizzle out. This is fine, because at the same time as you focus on attracting the right people, you’re also filtering out people who aren’t right for you.
Back to our Engage-Educate-Enrol marketing and sales funnel. A ‘first date’ invitation might be to ask your target to download a free guide, attend a seminar or webinar, watch a video series, or take a 5-day challenge.
An education product provides a cool duality for your marketing: it teaches or helps your prospective client with something they want or a problem they have; and it builds the trust they need to make the bigger commitment to buy your high-end service or programme.
In the digital age we live in today, there are many great technologies that can really help with the pace and efficacy of this relationship building process.
- your website (particularly the landing page, lead capture page, sales page your prospect encounter but also your content and the value you offer)
- your email series (where you can have a conversational, storytelling kind of engagement with your prospect)
- your social media interactions (again all about giving value to attract the right people)
- your offer (and of course a clear call to action).
Getting More Clients from Your Sales Calls
The next step isn’t to try to “sell” them on all your features and benefits right off the bat; that’s like asking for a full commitment after one date. No, you first need some romance and spark, and then you invite them on subsequent dates, so you can get to know each other on a deeper level.
You can do this using educational content delivered online (or offline in fact). Some businesses have a whole “value ladder” in place, where they give away something free and then offer a series of low-cost products leading up to a main high-ticket programme or service. The idea is that you’re progressively leading your prospect upwards towards your high-end offer.
I don’t recommend using lots of steps in your value ladder. There are several reasons, but mostly it’s because a low-cost product can give the wrong impression if your main goal is to work at the high-end.
Firstly, unless you use reusable content, you can end up spending so much time creating and marketing a “band-aid” kind of product that doesn’t break even and doesn’t give the customer what they want. It gives them temporary relief that can lead to frustration, even resentment. Secondly, and related to the first point, a cheap product is probably not in line with the value of your professional expertise as a consultant or coach.
Furthermore, from experience I can almost guarantee it’s way harder for you to sell 100 products at $50 (that’s about 40 quid) than one high-end programme at $5000. For me, £4000 per participant is equivalent to a 4-day consulting assignment, so spending say 20 days to create and launch a programme that attracts even say 20 people is real leveraged consulting and coaching!
In traditional business transactions and sales appointments, “closing the deal” can be a big hurdle. While most consultants and coaches are great at what they do, they are rarely natural sales people. (There are also all kinds of money blocks that fuel our fear of selling!)
My advice is always to:
Focus on getting consultations booked in rather than on getting clients signed up. It takes all the pressure off and the client ends up with a high-value consultative conversation.
Enrolment calls are a great way to complete the offer. The call should be structured; you need to provide the prospect with a lot of value without giving too much. It’s most definitely not about delivering one big sales pitch. A good enrolment conversation gives relief, hope and incentive that the full solution is within reach.
Your initial education-focused materials are all intended as a lead-in to inviting the prospective client to the free consultation. Some call this a strategy session, a discovery call or an exploratory call; others label it an enrolment call, a sign-up call or even blatantly a sales call. Whatever you call it, make it an attractive offer not a thinly disguised sales pitch. Give it a purposeful name and make sure the focus is on how you can assist someone to get what they want (a solution), not on what you want (a sale).
When you avoid looking at business development as “sales” – and you focus on booking enrolment calls in the first instance –- your mind gets into gear with what you do naturally as a consultant or coach, which is inspiring and helping people to commit to a desired result.
A good consult is where you help the person see what’s been holding them back. The gift is one of clarity; they no longer feel stuck, and have been given the next steps to take. The call should make the solution feel within their reach and your only pitch is to ask “do you want some help implementing that?”
The good news is, when you create a sales funnel, alongside good follow up (by email or phone), education-based marketing does much of the trust building and selling for you. This means when you get on a call with the prospect, they’re already half on board with you.
People who have gone through an inceptive education with you make ideal clients and good candidates for your high-end products, programmes and services.
Packaging your expertise into a programme of support or a product gives you far more leverage in your consulting business than negotiating a certain number of days working one-on-one with a client. For instance, if your monthly income goal is 20k, instead of having to sell hundreds of hours worth a few hundred pounds or dollars, you only have to sell a handful of programmes at 5k.
Go into sales enrolment calls with the mindset of seeing if you can help the person, and if you can, tell them about your programme, product or service as the vehicle for them getting the help they need.