In these times of crisis, we must adapt to the new situation. In the new situation, we need to deepen social contacts mainly online. But how do you actually build an online business relationship? Here are 5 tips on how to deepen an online business date.
Tip 1: Be Personal
When you can have primarily digital contact, it is best to try to talk one-on-one with your customer. A dialogue allows you to use different questioning techniques. The key is to get your customer talking. Be a good listener and let the client tell you about his problems. Of course, this applies not only online, but also in person.
To make the client feel that he does not have to deal with his problems alone, it helps to share your own personal situation. Thus, the client mirrors his situation on yours. He will feel that you are going through the same problems.
Be aware of the so-called Barnum effect, a pitfall at this point. The Barnum Effect is named after P.T. Barnum, the showman who said, “a sucker is born every minute.” He found many ways to cheat “suckers,” as he called gullible people, out of their money.
The Barnum effect in psychology refers to people’s gullibility when they hear descriptions of their own personalities. By personality we mean the ways in which people are different and unique. But it is possible to give vague, general descriptions that apply to most people. Yet people judge these as very accurate descriptions of themselves. This effect is often used by soothsayers or astrologers.
To give you some examples of a Barnum description:
- YOU are always critical of yourself.
- I think YOU sometimes doubt whether you made the right decision.
- YOU know how to compensate for your weaknesses well.
Source: Michael H. Birnbaum, Professor of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton
Online, it is unwise to make extensive use of this technique. Because you can’t read the client’s body language, it’s hard to see how they are responding to the Barnum effect. This can backfire strongly.
So be personal!
Tip 2: Show, don’t tell
In the current crisis and a world of fake news, people are looking for a safe haven. The best advocate for trust is the customer himself. As a relationship builder, you need to activate this capability. By telling stories in which the listener has built their own world, you build on this trust. Avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly; give the listener enough information to draw the conclusion for themselves.
This technique is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Show, don’t tell is a technique used in various types of communication. It allows the customer to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses and feelings rather than through your explanation, summary and description. Instead of using adjectives in your analysis, present the scene by appealing to your customer’s senses. It will make him feel that he is drawing the conclusions himself, which is always stronger, because the “not invented here” feeling is avoided.
This technique is well applicable in online communication. Video calls and e-mail largely give you the ability to direct your customer’s thoughts incrementally. This creates an atmosphere that encourages the client to draw their own conclusions.This is because the client is much more solitary.
Tip: In the Prison Break video to the right, you can see this technique in action: Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and shows (and doesn’t tell) Tweener (Lane Garrison) that he is an experience pickpocket.
Tip 3: Be specific
The risk of distraction is greater during online communication. So it is even more important to be straightforward and to the point. What specific problem will you solve for your client? It is easier to keep his attention if you can define the problem precisely. How can you be more specific? The Internet is a useful tool in this regard. Clients enter their problems into the search engines every day. These questions are quite specific, otherwise they would not get the desired results. You can find these queries online, for example at: https://answerthepublic.com. These queries and related search terms will help you specify your client’s problem.
Another way to make the problem more specific can be achieved by building a mind map for your (potential) customer. This will give you more insight into how to be more specific regarding your own value proposition. For example, you can use: https://tobloef.com/text2mindmap/
But various apps that you can download from the App Store can also be useful in this regard. Here are some apps that can be used to create a mind map:
A mind map is a good first step in creating a so-called crisis value proposition. Read more about it here in our other blog article.
Tip 4: Be positive
Trust is the magic word in relationships. But you have to win it. In a face-to-face situation, it is easier to gauge your potential customer’s reaction than online.
An important guideline to follow is to always bring out the positive side of your solution. By omitting the possible negative side, you are at least not suggesting the possible negative side yourself. On the plus side, it is easier to gain the trust of your (potential) customer. This is reinforced when the positive is endorsed by others.
So be positive and don’t hang out dirty laundry.
Tip 5: Keeping in touch
The impact of an online meeting is much lower than that of a physical meeting. Despite all the effort you put into it. As a result, you will need to create more touch points to build the relationship. A common guideline within sales is 7 points of contact. Still, when building an online-only relationship, 7 is on the low side. Also read our article, Call Baby, Call, about calling for more information:
Especially in these times, it is advisable to stay in touch with your (potential) customer. But do keep in mind the ABC method.
To entice him, feed the customer little by little, giving him interesting information. This information contributes to your story (see Tip 2: Show, don’t tell). Storytellingalso highlightsthe positive side of your solution. By building the information, you deepen the relationship with the customer. This is how you build trust.
By using these 5 tips: 1. Be personable, 2. Show, don’t tell, 3. Be specific, 4. Be positive and 5. Keep in touch, in maintaining and creating online business relationships, you can still expand your customer base even in these uncertain times.