Human beings are social animals – and although we like to think that we are unique individuals making rational decisions, the truth is that we are strongly influenced by the choices that others make. That’s particularly important when the other people making decisions are ones that we admire and identify with.
Marketeers regularly use this mechanism to influence our choices. When you see a travel operator claiming that, “92% of customers would choose to book with us again” or devoting a section of their website to ‘Trending Destinations’, that’s Social Proof at work. And, slightly more subtly, that’s why you see a panel marked ‘Frequently bought together’ appear underneath the details of the product you clicked on.
The concept is far from new: it was identified formally as an important influencing tool in the mid-1980s, based on experiments that went all the way back to the 1930s. These showed that Social Proof is particularly powerful when:
The choices that our friends make are especially important: we’re twice as likely to pay attention to recommendations from friends than recommendations from other sources. But other forms of Social Proof – approval from acknowledged experts, customer testimonials, user reviews, even celebrity endorsements – all have an impact.
So how can we use Social Proof in a sales setting? It’s tempting to think that we just need to e-mail over a Case Study as part of presenting the value of our offer, but in fact, we need to be consciously using Social Proof throughout the Sales Cycle.
Referrals are a vital tool and rely on Social Proof to open up new conversations. During those initial explorations, think about Social Proof that’s directly relevant to both the organisation and the individual:
Framed questions within your qualification criteria will unearth the real deal to qualify in or out of the sales process.
Delivering a Proposal
Use existing customer feedback that showcases the benefits they received from your solution. Quantify the benefits wherever you can. Use direct customer quotations to make the Social Proof compelling.
Use the Feel, Felt and Found methodology to refer to relevant Social Proof.
Have existing clients provide reference calls/emails for you as part of the deal closure process. The more similar the reference client – in terms of both industry sector and role – the more powerful will be their Social Proof impact.
SBR Consulting’s proven Sales Methodology QUIS™, represents Social Proof in the term of Third Person Validation. As represented below, the use of Third Person Validation is utilised not only throughout the entire sales process but also throughout the entire sales engagement.
SBR Consulting: QUIS 10:4
These are uncertain times, so we know that Social Proof is especially important to our prospects. Using it appropriately can help fill your funnel, cut your sales cycle and improve your win rate.
Jonathan Adams, Senior Consultant (email@example.com)
To talk to us about Social Proof, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740.
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