You want to wow your prospective client by sharing testimonials and case studies that prove you can help them improve the important outcome they are facing. As you look at your list of successes, you choose the three largest companies. Each is a marquee logo on its own, but the three together are certain to wow your contacts and eliminate any uncertainty they might have about closing with you. Feeling confident, you send the proof providers to your contacts. Then, you don’t hear a word.
When you follow up, your contacts say they looked at the testimonials, but that you don’t seem to understand your prospective client’s business or challenges. This is puzzling because you spent enough time with them to know what they need from you and your company. Now you are worried that you will lose the deal, but you are not certain why or how you could be in this difficult sales scenario.
The Mistake Salespeople Make with Proof Providers
One of the major mistakes salespeople make is choosing the wrong proof provider to help them bring certainty to a prospective client. It is easy to believe that the larger the client, the more powerful the proof. However, this is the legacy approach to providing proof. It’s like showing all your largest client logos on a slide during your first meeting.
Occasionally, a contact or two might be impressed that you count a large company among your clients. Mature leaders, however, know the difference between a small or medium-size business is not their scale, but the many challenges they face day to day. Anyone who has worked for a large enterprise knows this to be true.
It may also be a mistake to use only testimonials from your prospect’s industry. It may be more powerful to show how your solution works across a large swath of companies in different industries.
If it isn’t the size and prestige of the logo or industry experience, then what exactly should you provide as proof?
What Proof Your Buyer Needs
Your contacts want proof that you understand their business, their company, and their problem. They want proof that you understand them better than anyone else outside of their company. But how can you execute this strategically?
When you provide your client with proof providers, you must match the new sales collateral to the client’s problem. Instead of hoping to impress your contacts with your most high-profile clients, consider how you can assuage your contact’s concerns and resolve their uncertainty.
How to Execute This Sales Strategy
As you explore your options, you want to look for testimonials and case studies for companies that had the same problem your prospective client is experiencing. By showing your contacts the sales version of the before-and-after picture, they can see themselves in the story.
Choosing three proof providers who share the contact’s problem and demonstrate the better results you helped them achieve offers proof that you have figured out how to solve their problem. Beyond this, there is another reason to share similar stories from three companies: Your prospective clients gain confidence when they see that you have been able to execute for different clients. Showing that your success is repeatable proves that you understand the problem and the way to dispatch it effectively.
I’ve made the mistake of focusing too much on big names in my own experience as a young salesperson. Once, when trying to impress a client, I provided Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and DHL as proof providers. None of these giant corporations had the problem my prospective client was facing. Recently, a young salesperson asked me about her choice of testimonials and case studies. Like a lot of large sales organizations, her company provided resources to help their prospects feel safe to buy. The conversation that followed reminded me of my own experience—and failure—in using proof providers.
What You Need to Enable
Too many salespeople do shoddy work, especially in discovery. They lack business acumen, do shallow research, and fail to understand that buyers are plagued by uncertainty. This pattern leads buyers to complain about the sales experience. When your stakeholders don’t believe that you know their business and their problems, they are uncomfortable moving forward and become even more concerned about making a poor decision, one that will be visible to everyone.
If you are a salesperson, look at one of your important opportunities and write down everything you know about the company, their industry, and their problem. The longer you write, the more likely you know enough to pass the client’s test of your relevance and authority. If you get stuck after writing two lines, you have a problem.
Sales leaders who wonder why they need so much coverage in their pipeline should ask their sales force what they know about a prospective client’s company, problems, and needs. Discovery is often commoditized and poorly executed, even though doing it right is critical to increasing win rates. By asking sales reps to share the questions they ask their contacts during discovery, a sales manager can assess how valuable those questions are.
How to Use Proof Providers
Using proof providers can help your clients buy from you. When done properly, you ensure your clients that you know their business and how best to solve their challenges. Effective proof directly relates to your client’s needs and situation.
Leaving this article, you should take an inventory of proof providers and other collateral. Categorize these assets by the client problem each one addresses. This can make it easy to find and use the right set of assets for every client concern. This will make it easier to manage your assets and deliver what each client needs when they need it.