Wouldn’t it be helpful if you knew exactly what your next customer was thinking?
Believe it or not, your prospects have a lot of questions about your product they want answered before they contact you.
We know from studying the behavior of buyers, that they progress through three stages of the buying process:
Awareness > Consideration > Decision
As salespeople and marketers, we want to enter the process as early as possible.
But how do we know what they are thinking? How can we get helpful insights early in the Awareness Stage?
Understanding How People Buy
Did you know that more than 70% of the buying decision is made when a prospective customer contacts a service provider?
That means buyers are going out and educating themselves before they reach out to a vendor. They don’t want to feel foolish or like they are being taken advantage of.
So they do their research.
They ask questions, they ask friends and past customers for reviews, they seek out advice on forums.
This is a huge opportunity for you to establish yourself as an authority!
By sharing your knowledge and experience openly, you create a relationship of trust. You become an advisor rather than a vendor.
Not only that, but you get inside the heads of your ideal customers by seeing exactly what they have questions about.
So how can you use your prospects questions in your sales process? How do you know what they’re asking?
First, you need to know where to look.
Niche Tools to Establish Authority
There are a number of question and answer websites that have the ability for visitors to ask specific questions and be answered by other visitors. Some sites vet the users and allow them to apply for an “Expert” position.
If you want to be seen as an authority in your industry, visit these sites and register as an expert to answer questions posted by others.
Clarity is a site dedicated to helping folks connect with experts. By providing a platform to share experiences, answer specific questions, and build community, Clarity makes it easy to connect with a host of experts — on any number of topics — around the world when you need answers.
Their primary product is helping schedule one-on-one phone calls between the community member and the expert. Clarity makes their money off a fee charged to the caller. The expert pockets the rest based on their pre-determined rate.
The question and answer section, however, is a very helpful resource when researching your ideal customers.
Each day, I check out their Open questions. These are questions other experts have not answered yet. I find great value in being the first to answer a prospects question for lead generation purposes.
For research purposes, however, I look at all the questions being asked in a particular category. I pay attention to the way someone asks a question — what words are they using? What is their intent? Are they asking in a way that I have to read between the lines to understand what they mean verses what they stay.
This type of understanding helps when I am developing blog headlines, pay-per-click ads, or even product launches. I want to be using the language of my ideal clients, not my own choice of words.
MosaicHub is similar to Clarity, except without the phone scheduling features. They make their money on experts upgrading to become a Featured Expert.
For lead generation, I’m sure this is worth the cost. For building influence and gaining a better understanding of your audience, the question and answer sections are free for all users.
The day I wrote this post, the most recent questions asked by the community included:
- Which social media platforms have you found most instrumental to your profitability?
- How do you set pricing, monetize, and promote your new mobile app?
- What CRM are you using and why did you choose it?
- How do you build a website?
- How do I get started with email marketing?
Many of these questions are filtered based on my preferences – these are questions I could easily answer to further my credibility and gain influence to people looking for my services.
What I realize by reading some of these questions, is that I take some of my knowledge for granted. For example, I don’t have to have a master plan or do any research to start an email marketing campaign. It is a skill I am so comfortable with, I don’t even think about how to do it.
In fact, in 1999, PJ Hinds wrote “The Curse of Expertise” at Stanford University. The idea is, that the more we understand about a topic, the harder it is for us to remember what it’s like to not know about it. As experts, we have a harder time thinking of the “simple” problems that may be plaguing our audience.
Open/Public Tools to Establish Authority
Not all sites require you to register as an expert before answering questions. For example, open forums and group discussions on Quora and LinkedIn are ripe for finding people asking about every topic imaginable.
If you are using LinkedIn for networking (you should be!), you should also join groups related to your service offerings. Don’t just join groups of likeminded people (they aren’t your audience, remember), join groups where your ideal customers would likely go. Participate in the conversation without pitching your product every other sentence. Over time, your influence will grow and you’ll have amazing insights on the questions your prospects want answered.
I’ll warn you now, I have lost many hours to Quora. Users can post questions for other users to answer, much like the other sites I’ve listed. In addition, users create feeds of topics based on their interests and see questions being posted, answered, etc. Quota’s mission is to have people with real-world experience answer the seemingly endless feed of inquires.
The results are fascinating. Again, a great way to get inside the head of a prospect. Study what they and their peers are asking, why are they asking the way they do, what is the pinpoint / frustration / problem that needs to be solved.
And how can you solve it?
Your Greatest Resource to Establish Authority
Finally, use your own website to attract new prospects. Take the questions you’ve seen and apply that to your blog content. Use your prospect’s language, answer their questions, and solve their problems.
Many of my more recent blog posts have been directly based on a question asked on one of these forums. Once I have written out a decent reply, I’ll post it as an answer. Then I’ll add some more detail, or occasionally make it more generic, and create a full blog post from it. That way, I am able to use that content more than once and I am sure others out there have the same question as the original poster.
Remember, your website should be the hub of all that you do. Any of these sites I’ve mentioned could go away or change the rules at any moment. Their motives are to rank high in the search results as well, so they welcome all this free original content on their site. If they closed up shop tomorrow, or suddenly started charging users for access, it would be a shame for all your work to disappear.
You have complete control over your own website and domain, so focus your efforts are building traffic to that constantly.
I hope this has taught you how to get inside the mind of your prospective customer and use that content to attract new visitors to your website. Doing this will cement you as an expert in their minds and boost your search engine rankings for topics relevant to your industry.
I’d love to hear your experience or “aha” moment. What stood out to you in this post? Leave your comment below. (I read every single one of them).