Last week I talked to you all about the importance of building a great first impression with your readers and how in a short space of time you can either invite your reader in to learn more, or have them bounce back out and move onto the next web page (You can catch up on that post here).
Today, I want to talk about how important relationships are to growing your business (and to ordinary aspects of your life as well!). I realised a while ago that without a strong link between you and your readers/customers, there would be nothing that binds you together.
You want to have a bond with your reader!
But how do you build and grow that relationship?
Today I’ll be going over:
- Relationships and why they are important to growing your business
- How to build a relationship with your customer
- Asking Open and Closed questions
- Examples of Open Questions
- Benefits of Closed Questions
If you want to jump to a particular topic in the post just click the links above.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Building a Relationship
You cannot put into words the true power of building a relationship with your customers/readers.
I have seen some truly gifted salespeople, who completely understand a product or service inside out, who can give you all the features and benefits you could think of, but couldn’t get the customer to buy.
If you can’t build a strong relationship with that customer, then it all accounts for nothing!
As the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, says, “The only real objection they have is they don’t trust you” and building a relationship is the first step in getting your customers’ trust.
So the real big question is….
How do you build a relationship with your customer?
It’s easier than you think; the trick for most people is to be yourself. This is especially true in the world of online business as you see some of the most successful online entrepreneurs such as Pat Flynn (this guy is a passive income genius!) from SmartPassiveIncome.com, who writes his blog posts or uploads his podcasts so that he gives his readers / customers the honest account of himself.
He acts completely transparently and shares his wins and also, his losses and even shows his readers how much money he makes and how he made it. People really buy into this aspect of Pat; I certainly felt like I was getting to know the guy through his writing. Needless to say, this is his way of building a relationship with his customers.
Another example of building a relationship (which is super easy to do in your free time even before you’ve come up with a product to market!) would be reaching out to your customers and followers online via twitter.
Ahh the trusty tweet.
Use your twitter voice to bond and reach out to your customers by responding to comments, opening polls and getting reader’s feedback and drawing them into a conversation.
It’s SO much better to have 20 super-fans who you have built relationships with and connected with than to have 1000 people who visit your site who are only vaguely interested in what you’re doing.
Always try and think about ways you can be unique to your followers. I saw a great interaction from Charles Bordet (You can find Charles on Twitter) from Become a Top Performer.com. What he did was over time, when one of his readers subscribed to his post he would send an email asking his readers for a call to action! It’s brilliant!
This is what he put in the email…
“Hi (He puts the subscriber’s name here)
Thanks for allowing me in your inbox 🙂
Before we start…
Please read this entire email. I have 1 task for you.
So make sure you don’t miss it :-)”
At the end of the blog post he asks you to reply to the email with “Ready!” Once you’ve done this he then sends you a personal video he recorded (Don’t worry, it’s nothing ‘R’ Rated!) to ask you some questions on what you wish to gain out of his blog.
I loved this as it made me feel like Charles didn’t have just an auto-responder. He actually was interested in taking the time out to speak to each of his subscribers. I plan to implement something similar into my blog in the future. Thanks for the inspiration Charles!
Being lucky enough to have a one on one conversation with your customers, where you can ask them questions is the real key to building relationships.
This leads us neatly onto our next point.
Asking open and closed questions
Asking the right type of questions is one of the best ways to find out information, understanding somebody’s wants and needs, getting the necessary information to be able to help somebody make a decision (maybe even on a potential product or service your offering) and most importantly building a relationship!
The two main types of questions I’d like to focus on are Open questions and Closed questions.
Open questions are incredibly valuable in any conversation or Sales process (providing you listen to the answers given.) These questions help you gather information, establish credibility and trust with your customer and qualify sales opportunities.
Qualifying a sale is when you establish whether a customer is in the market to purchase your product or service. For example, if you are trying to sell an E-Book on designing websites, some qualifying questions might be:
- Closed question: ‘Are you interested in designing a website?’ This question has a yes or no response. If the answer is no, you can follow up with an open question.
- Open question: ‘What are you interested in me helping you with?’ If the customer then tells you he’s actually interested in learning how to grow tomatoes, you know you have the wrong type of customer!
I recently heard a great example of somebody online using an open question to qualify a sale. I was listening to an interview with Shayna from Espresso English on the Smart Passive Income Podcast Episode no: 233.
She was talking about when she had written her first E-book, she worked on it for over a month and when she launched her first E-book she only had around 6-8 people who bought it.
On the 2nd time around, when writing her next E-book, before she had written the content she asked her blog readers and her customers, “Hey guys, what content would you like me to write next?” They responded with different options on what content they really wanted her to produce. She then decided instead of writing the content and then getting her customers to buy the content, she would first offer a pre-order of the E-book for release in 3 weeks’ time. This time, she received 20 pre-orders in advance before she had even written the content.
What she did in this example was ask an Open question to see what content her readers wanted her to produce, and she then asked them a Closed question to see if they wanted to buy the content (which 20 people did – more on closed questions in a second!)
The key to a good open question is to ask the question and let the person you’re asking give you their answer, without any prompting/leading or interruptions.
Here are some examples of good Open questions:
•What prompted you to look at this website/business?
•What do you expect to gain from this product/service?
•How do you see this happening?
•Can you help me understand that a little better?
•What does that mean to you?
•What goals are you trying to fulfill?
•What kind of challenges are you facing?
•How did you get involved in…?
•What is the most important priority for you in this and why?
•What would you like to see improved?
In a face to face situation, you can get in some great open questions, which can benefit not just your sales pitches, but also your social skills!
•How is your day going?
•How are you planning to spend the rest of your day?
The list of Open questions you can ask are endless, but getting yourself into the practice of asking Open questions, either in your writing, your social media enquiries or even in your social life can help build stronger relationships. Just remember to assume nothing and question everything. Listen carefully to the response, never interrupt and ask follow-up questions as needed.
Closed Questions are the open question’s quieter, more reserved cousin…
But with equal use in any conversation or sales situation. The main aim of a closed question is to get a single word response! (Think: ‘Do you want fries with that?’)
The main benefits of closed questions are:
•They give you facts
•They are quick to answer
•They are easy to answer
•They keep you in control of the questioning
•It is a great way to qualify a sales situation
To give you an example of a closed question, in furniture sales I would often ask my customers very early on, “are you interested in fabric or leather sofas?”
Closed questions are a great way to help understand what your customer is searching for, as in the example above or to test somebody’s understanding of a situation, such as “have you ever written your own blog before?”
If the answer is no and you are advising this person on how to write a blog, you can immediately gauge their level of expertise and pitch them a relevant product or service.
Closed questions are also great for getting closure on a conversation, whether asking someone on a date or trying to get a customer to buy.
“If I can deliver this to you tomorrow, will you order it today?” or in a dating situation “If we go for cocktails tomorrow at 7pm, could I pick you up at 6?” (Who knew Closed questions could be so useful?!)
What’s great is that you can turn almost any opinion into a Closed question that forces a yes or no by adding onto the end of the sentence a ‘tag question’ For example: “Isn’t it?”, “can’t they?” and “don’t you?”
•You don’t think Mary’s new bright pink hair is vulgar, do you?
•It’s not illegal to burn your ex-boyfriend’s clothes if he cheated, is it?
•I’m sure bloggers can come up with unique content without getting writer’s block, can’t they?
As you can see, it’s never been easier to get people’s opinions on a situation. (Use with caution in your social lives; some things are best left unsaid)
So in summary…
Hopefully, this has given you a little insight into how useful building relationships can be in your business and how using open and closed questions in your business, social networking and social life can be a great practice to get into. I’m confident that applying these skills will lead to increased engagement with your customers and readers.
Please let me know in the comments any questions you may have on how to apply any of these principles into your life or into your business. If you have any further questions, please, get in touch via the Contact me page.