There are two different times where it is helpful to establish some sort of credibility when trying to improve selling. First, when we face gatekeepers that are trying to screen us out, establishing some credibility can sometimes help them to decrease their guard and feel more comfortable letting us in. The second scenario where we can benefit from credibility is when we are dealing with target prospects and need to either get their attention or get their commitment to continue.
One of the reasons that credibility is important is that we face fierce competition everyday. We are either competing with a number of other businesses and sales people or we are competing against the prospect’s option to do nothing and the status quo. If we don’t establish credibility, we may just blend in with the rest of the pesky cold callers and can get denied by the “sales filter”. That being what it is, there are some very clear and simple things we can do to increase our level of credibility.
When gatekeepers and target prospects answer the phone and recognize that they do not know who we are and why we are calling, their level of guard will immediately go to a medium level. From that point on, everything that we say and do will either make their guard go up or make it go down. The more effective that we are at getting prospect’s guards to lower while cold calling, the more successful we will be and utilizing a concept of social proof is one way to do that and this can improve selling.
Social proof is a concept where someone is able to establish credibility and a higher level of value and power by connecting themselves with certain members of a social group or organization. For example, a host of a party will know just about everybody at the party and will have extremely high social proof by having those connections and existing relationships. On the other extreme, a guest of the party that only knows the host will be somewhat of an outsider and have very low social proof. Through their actions and communications, both the host and the guest will be sub-communicating to everybody at the party what their level of social proof is.
One of the interesting things about social proof is that we have a tremendous about of control over the level of social proof that we are presenting ourselves to have. Continuing with the example of a guest at a party, if that individual modifies their actions and communications, they can easily increase their level of social proof. For example, by interacting with different guests of the party, they will give off the image that they have more connections and relationships and this will immediately sub-communicate a higher level of social proof.
Applying this concept to cold calling, when a gatekeeper or target prospect answers our call, they will be immediately trying to determine if we are a friend or a foe. A friend would be someone that they know in some way or someone that is already on the inside and involved with their business. A foe would be someone on the outside trying to get in, like one of those pesky cold callers. If we can establish social proof, we can stand to get the gatekeeper or prospect to feel like we are more of a friend than a foe and this will help to decrease their level of guardedness and could get them to let us in or open up more and this alone can improve selling.