Use Social Proof to Establish Credibility in Sales
When dealing with sales prospects, it is critical for you to establish credibility. This is important because there are so many sales people trying to get in the door and get the prospect’s attention. If you haven’t established credibility, you will blend in with the rest and can get denied by the “vendor filter” and one way to stand out from the rest and look credible is by using a concept of social proof.
Social proof is a method where you establish value and credibility by displaying yourself as being already associated with other people in the organization. As an example, take two different men in a social setting. One of the men is talking with many different people and groups; the other is not talking to anybody. The first has established social proof, while the other appears to be a stranger and disconnected. By simply observing those two individuals, we do not know which one is better connected to the groups, but our first impression and bet would be placed on the one that is talking to everybody and displaying social proof.
It is fairly easy to build and create social proof throughout the sales cycle and below are some ways to consciously do that.
Name Drop Internal Contacts
One effective tactic to establish credibility and display social proof is to name drop contacts in terms of other people that you have already spoken to and met with in the organization. This is great to do when cold calling as it can lower the prospect's guard as you go from being perceived as an outsider trying to get in to someone that is already on the inside.
The great thing about name dropping internal contacts is that you don’t even have to currently have a relationship with them or plans to meet with them in order to name drop them. You can do this by simply telling somebody that you are planning to meet with Jane Smith from accounting, for example. This sounds like you have a meeting on schedule, but in reality you may not have a meeting schedule but more so have 100% genuine plans and intentions to reach out to Jane to schedule a meeting. If Jane is senior to the person you are talking to, you just displayed social proof.
Name Drop Titles
Another tactic to establish credibility is to name drop titles of individuals that you work with. If you are trying to sell to a CFO and you mention working with other C-level executives during your messaging, then you can establish credibility as you have social proof from working with other executives.
Name Drop External Contacts
During the sales cycle, you can also name drop external contacts that you work with create social proof. Many communities and industries are fairly small in terms of people knowing each other. If you can name drop a contact at an external company that they prospect knows, that can help to establish credibility.
You can talk about your features and benefits all day, but what can really paint a picture is storytelling. By telling a story about how your company has helped another similar organization, they will then begin to relate to what you are trying to tell them and this will help to establish credibility.
Source: Jake Atwood, President at Ovation Sales Group & BuzzBuilder Pro