Straight to the point – here are the three questions:
- Do you get me?
- Can I trust you?
- Did you keep your promise?
Now, of course, the tricky part is that no one actually comes out and asks you these questions, but answering them, in often subtle ways, is the key to any successful relationship – business or personal.
Think of these questions as relationship stages.
Stages of a relationship
Here’s the thing you must accept. The company that can more clearly communicate that they understand what’s going on in the mind and heart of the prospect wins.
Addressing a prospect’s problem upfront is a little like doing a puzzle, and it involves an evolving journey. Think about the last time you wrestled with a thorny issue. Did you wake one morning from your slumber and exclaim, “I’ve got it, problem solved.” I’m guessing no.
Whether you were aware of it or not, you probably went through a series of stages on your way to the ultimate solution.
By understanding these stages, you can also acknowledge and address them in your marketing messages and business processes. You can begin to understand the job your marketing has to accomplish to guide a prospect to your brand of solution.
The stages addressed in the questions above align with our desire to attain more of these three little words in our lives – clarity, confidence, and control.
While most marketers jump straight into why it is such a great idea to hire them or buy their product, most prospects, still early on in their journey, may not even know the problem they are trying to solve. They may know the symptoms they are experiencing but have not diagnosed the “real” problem and certainly have not connected solving it with what we sell.
Clarity – Do you get me?
The first stage is a clear understanding of what the problem is. I mean, even if you never considered this, it probably makes sense.
You won’t go looking for a solution to a problem you don’t know you have or certainly can’t yet articulate. You certainly won’t be motivated to seek out a sales call, request a proposal, or pay good money for the ability to solve a problem that you can’t describe.
Ah, but once someone sheds light on the real issue, helps you name your challenge, helps you get clear on what something is costing you not to address, helps you know what you don’t know, see what you don’t see – then your world view begins to change. You see things in a light that allows you to take even baby steps towards finding a solution.
Your company may cut trees down but the problem your company solves is that you show up at the appointed time and clean up the job site meticulously. The thought is that pretty much anyone with a chain saw can cut a tree down (this is not true by the way), but no one will promise to show up in that small window of time I have in the morning to let someone into the yard to discuss my trees.
But you get that, so you promise to solve that problem.
As marketers, our first job is to communicate empathy with the problem, communicate that we know what the problem is and that we understand why it exists. Do this, and you’ll earn the right to explain how to fix it.
Confidence – Can I trust you?
With your problem defined and blind-spot removed now, you can start to search for a solution, but we don’t yet possess the confidence to know what the right path is. We begin to ask our friends, go online and search in all the usual places, maybe try to find an example of someone who successfully solved a similar issue.
As a marketer, this is where trust rules.
Once a prospect discovers that you do indeed get them and you’re the only one talking about the problem that’s been rolling around in their head for months, they’ll start to take a deeper look at two things: who you are and what you offer.
This stage involves deeper dives into your product and service pages and downloading your case studies, but it also includes filling out your forms, visiting your social profiles, maybe even Googling your business name.
Confidence is either won or lost in the details. How fast your site loads, how intuitive your forms are to complete, how well I get a sense of what you stand for when I read more about you.
None of these items alone is a deal-breaker, but collectively they tell a story about what’s important to you, and that’s the mental checklist a prospect is completing at this stage.
Do they believe, confidently enough, that you can live up to the promise of solving their problems in exchange for their hard-earned money?
Control – Did you keep your promise?
The final stage comes into view as a person is fully into solving their problem with you. During this stage, they want a sense of control.
Now, this doesn’t mean they want to control the process; they simply want to feel as though it is going as expected, that they see results, that communication is flowing in a way that allows them to relax and trust the process.
This stage equates to a great customer experience, a great plan of action, and, ultimately your customer’s ability to understand the value of their investment.
So, did you keep your promise? Did you surprise me? Did you exceed my expectations? All of these help me feel like I’m in control.
And a sense of control is what turns the tap for repeat business, evangelism, and referrals.
The point in understanding these stages is to help you understand that it’s not enough to simply have a great explanation of the problem you solve. Your business must also intentionally address and guide a prospect through each of the three stages.
Build a journey that addresses these three questions, and you’ll build a lasting relationship with your ideal customers.