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- The Relationship Pipeline -

To turn prospects into clients you need to move them along
the "Relationship Pipeline."


Almost everyone has heard of the concepts "The Sales Pipeline" and "Relationship Marketing." But few Independent Professionals realize how closely they're connected and what it means to your marketing.

We're going to get into this topic in depth in next week's TeleClass Expert Series with Andrea Nierenberg, "The Queen of Networking" (see below for details). This week I'll give you a preview and build on last week's eZine on Turning Leads into Appointments.

The sales pipeline (sometimes called the sales funnel) is the process of moving unknown prospects - those who might do business with you someday - into paying clients.

Relationship marketing is the means of making this happen. Prospects don't travel through this pipeline without your focused efforts to cultivate, inform, and follow up until they are ready to do business with you.

It's important to understand that every single prospect who becomes a client goes through this process, whether you realize it or not. The sad thing is that many prospects get stuck in the pipeline (imagine appropriate visual image) because you made very little effort to move them along.

Here's a scenario typical for Independent Professionals:

You meet someone at a networking meeting and have a productive conversation. You exchange cards. You don't follow up in any way but they do visit your web site.

They like what they see, and in a couple weeks they send you an email to ask a question about your services. You answer this question by email but don't follow-up otherwise. And then... you never hear from them again.

One more lost opportunity. What happened?

When you made that initial connection and exchanged cards, the prospect entered the pipeline. They moved through as they visited your web site and sent you an email. But your response was very passive. You did little to engage the prospect and help them keep moving. And they ultimately gave up.

Want to dramatically increase your business this year?

You really don't need to add any fancy marketing techniques and strategies. You simply have to be better at using relationship marketing to move prospects through the pipeline.

Coming back to the stages of the pipeline from last week (Stranger - Affiliation - Familiarity - Information - Experience), let's look at what you could do to move a prospect along the pipeline from one stage to the next.

Stranger to Affiliation - You join an organization which is likely to include both prospects and people who can lead you to prospects. You get involved and go to meetings and meet new people you wouldn't have otherwise.

Affiliation to Familiarity - You meet someone through this organization and exchange cards. You recognize this person as a prospect and make a mental note to enter them into your relationship pipeline.

Familiarity to Information - After the event you send this person a note card and also a copy of an article about some aspect of your business. You include a link to your web site. You follow up and continue your conversation and answer questions.

Information to Experience - When talking, you mention your email newsletter (eZine) and they express an interest in receiving it. A few weeks later you're speaking at a professional group, and you invite them to attend.

Experience to Appointment - The prospect attends your talk and seems to enjoy it. You speak with them briefly afterwards and they ask some more questions about your business. You suggest getting together to explore how you might work together, and they agree.

There are as many relationship pipeline scenarios as there are prospects. Let's look at some of the things that are common to every single one of them:

1. Get out there. Most prospects don't get into the pipeline by accident. You need to put yourself in situations where you'll connect with new prospects on a regular basis.

2. Extend yourself. Prospects aren't going to get to know you unless you make the effort. You need to introduce yourself and make a positive first impression.

3. Provide information. Your prospects aren't going to know what you do, and what you can do for them, unless you educate them in some way. Articles, web sites, and eZines will do the trick.

4. Make invitations. Some prospects may need to know more and feel more comfortable about you before they are ready to meet and explore doing business. So give them opportunities to do so.

5. Ask. Ultimately you need to ask. If you wait for the prospect to make the next move, you may go broke in the process. However, if you've warmed up a prospect as I've outlined above, it will be easier than you think.

Your ability to master the relationship pipeline can be the biggest factor determining your overall business success. Knowing what to do, when to do it and how to do it will determine the level of that success.

I invite you to join me and the nation's top relationship marketer, Andrea Nierenberg, in the next TeleClass Expert Series as we explore the success secrets of relationship marketing. The date is Monday, April 24. You can attend the TeleClass or order the Audio Program and Transcript. Reserve your space at the link below today, and you'll be filling your relationship pipeline before you know it.

The More Clients Bottom Line: Don't just put new prospects into your relationship pipeline, proactively move them along the pipeline until they emerge as new clients.

What are you doing to move prospects along the relationship pipeline? Please let us know on the More Clients Blog at:

This Week's Featured Products:

Filling the Pipeline through Relationship Marketing

Why is it that some Independent Professionals seem to move prospects effortlessly through the relationship pipeline while others struggle to nurture these relationships?

Andrea Nierenberg has the answers. Andrea is the nation's most acclaimed relationship marketer. Perhaps no one else I've studied or met has such a firm grasp on what it takes to connect with people in business and turn those connections into new business.

The author of "Non Stop Networking" and "Million Dollar Networking" Andrea is someone who practices what she preaches. She'll be sharing dozens of her powerful relationship marketing secrets in this month's TeleClass Expert Series.

No matter the business you're in or how you attract clients, Andrea will give you practical ideas that you can apply immediately to build a powerful relationship pipeline. Read complete details and make your reservation at the link below:


Until next week, all the best,

Robert Middleton

Helping Independent Professionals Attract More Clients

210 Riverside Drive
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

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© 2006 Robert Middleton, All rights reserved. You are free to use material from the More Clients eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read:

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