So, can you prove it?

Why should a prospect believe what you say? Just because you, the salesperson says that your solution can do what you say it can, doesn’t always mean that your prospect is going to believe it. After all, you’re the salesperson…you get a nice commission check for making the sale. In fact, every time you give the prospect a fact and benefit, he or she is probably thinking, “Prove it!

You can prove it by making sure your presentation answers these three silent questions that go through your prospect’s mind:

•  “So what?”

•  “Who says so?”

•  “Can you prove it?”

In addition to answering these silent questions, you can do what lawyers do when they want to convince the judge and jury. You can use evidence.

Types of Evidence

1.   Testimonials

• Written

• Verbal

• Customer list

• Portfolios/articles

The most popular form of testimonials is undoubtedly the testimonial letter from a satisfied customer and while unsolicited letters are most welcome, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a testimonial letter when you know your customer is particularly pleased with what he received in terms of product, service or after-sale support.

You can get more mileage out of a testimonial letter if it is undated. Sometimes you can request that the letter be not dated, or you can simply make a copy the letter with the date removed or blacked out.

Verbal testimonials can be used when you have satisfied customers who are prepared to receive a phone call from your prospect. The interesting thing about verbal testimonials is that prospects rarely call. Just knowing that they can is often evidence enough.

Sometimes just showing the prospect a list of the companies you’ve done work for in the past—a customer list—is enough to put his mind at ease.

Portfolios of case studies and past successes are also powerful forms of evidence particularly if they have been published in the form of an article.

2.   Examples (Stories) of Satisfied Customers

Using examples or stories of satisfied customers who have used and benefited from your services is yet another way to provide evidence and peace of mind to your prospect. The rules for using examples are that they should be:

• Relevant

•  Accurate (don’t embellish the truth!)

• Specific

• Clear

• Right length (short)

For example, we at SalesForce could share the story of one company that, after their team took our sales training program, increased their overall closing ratio from 21 to 34 percent.

3.   Demonstration

Seeing is believing, so if whatever you sell lends itself to being demonstrated, do so. Telling someone how strong something is, isn’t near as impressive as smacking it with a hammer to make the point. In fact, getting the prospect involved by having them smack it instead of you will have an even greater impact!

Don’t do demonstrations unless you follow these rules:

•  Make sure it works (if they smack it and it breaks, you have a credibility problem)

•  Know how to use it (particularly important with technical products)

•  The demonstration should show what, not how

•  It should support the point you want to make (don’t do it simply because you think it’s “neat”)

4.   Exhibit

Even products that can be shown but not demonstrated are useful forms of evidence. It allows the prospect to see as well as hear about what it is you are selling. By the same token, product samples, particularly something you can leave with the prospect, can serve the same purpose.

5.   Data Sheets and Catalogues

This is an often-neglected form of useful evidence. Don’t just show the data sheets to your prospect, use a pen or highlighter to mark the key points you want the prospect to remember. Some rules to remember; your data sheets should be:

• Clean and new (not all crumpled or tattered)

• Current (not last year’s stuff or an older model)

• Original (not a copy, or worse—a copy of a copy of a copy!)

6.   Analogies

Analogies are a compelling way to make your point and are particularly useful for explaining new, novel, or unusual things. The closer the analogy is to the prospect’s own experiences, the better the chance you’ll make a memorable impression.

Here is an easy-to-use template to help you develop your own analogies:  “Our product is a lot like… (insert a word) because… (complete the analogy).”

7.   Statistics — Expert Sources
Using the testimony of expert sources or publicly available statistics to prove your point can act as forms of evidence. Having impartial, third-party testimonials from well-known and respected experts in the field, respected industry organizations, or government agencies are all powerful selling tools.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales leaders with the direction and support to ensure that their sales people are using evidence to support their sales presentations.

Discover why traditional sales training doesn’t work.

by   Mark Christie