How salespeople can gain credibility in 2021 – Social proof and how to use it.

Since the recent popularity of our Social Proof post on LinkedIn we thought we’d dig a little deeper on the subject.

In business there is little that matters more than your credibility, your reputation.

Do your customers value your services?

Do your prospects trust in your ability to deliver?

These are the types of questions answered by your reputation, before your salespeople ever interact with a prospect – your credibility and social proof speak first. 

What’s the difference?

Your credibility is caused by the actions that you take directly that influence what others think of you, Social Proof is the reputation you hold through what others are saying about you. The two are closely linked and sometimes overlap but for this purpose, we’re separating the two.

Building credibility:

Fancy strategies, marketing campaigns and business development all have their place. But if you really want your business to succeed, you need to be trusted in your industry.

That’s where credibility comes in.

Building credibility is complex; it takes a long time to build your clients trust. Even more work is needed to maintain it.

However, complex and difficult, it is absolutely vital for small businesses and huge corporations alike. Without it, your business will find it difficult to attract and retain clients.

If you want to build credibility, you need to put in the effort. Show your clients that you are trustworthy:

Never sell a solution that isn’t in your customers best interest.

You won’t always be perfect for everyone. Sometimes, you don’t have the right solution at the right price. When this happens, it’s always best to be honest with your client, instead of proposing something you know won’t deliver what the client is looking for.

Never misrepresent the features, advantages or benefits of a product or service.

Your clients don’t want a product or service that only comes close to meeting their requirements. Give them a full, unvarnished truth of your capabilities, then let them decide if your solution will work for them.

Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

Some salespeople find it very difficult to say no to their clients about anything. However, telling your clients a certain solution with specific features and benefits will be delivered by a certain deadline, when you know you can’t deliver, will always be a recipe for disaster.

Keep pricing consistent to all clients.

You will poison relationships with your clients if they discover the discrepancies.

If problems develop after a sale, don’t make excuses and place blame; fix the problem.

Your salespeople are the face of your company, make sure that they are delivering on the promises they made and aren’t passing the buck down the line.

Don’t withhold bad news.

If you think your clients will be upset when you deliver bad news, imagine how much worse it would be when they found out you knew bad news three weeks ago and didn’t tell them.

If you must speak of your competitors, be respectful.

Some salespeople think that if they trash-talk the competition, it will make their services look better. Usually, it just makes them look petty and immature.

Give your word and keep it.

Above all, you must do what you said you would when you said you would do it. This is one skill that will put you head and shoulders above your competition and see your credibility soar.

Now you’re doing all of the right things to build your credibility across your existing customers, here’s how you mobilise it into an essential tool to attract new clients.

Social Proof is the trust, brand, and reputation you build through your service testimonials, reviews, likes, and online mentions.

It has a hugely powerful psychological effect of your potential clients. This is because the feedback comes directly from your current and previous clients – positive messaging about your service from those who use it and not your marketing team.

Your future clients will see this social proof as their peers giving your team and services an endorsement.

A recent Trustpilot study showed:

–      66% said that the presence of social proof increased the likelihood of choosing a particular service.

–      Positive star ratings and reviews are the most important trust symbol with 82% saying it would make them likely to purchase.

–      Positive star ratings and reviews on your website will drive 86% of prospects to choose your service.

So, what are the different types of Social Proof?

–      Star ratings

–      Reviews

–      Client testimonials

–      Industry recognised certifications

–      Case studies

–      Public figure/Influencer endorsements

–      Company social media presence

There are many forms of social proof, but some make bigger trust signals than others. Some prospects may hold more respect for your positive reviews, whilst your client testimonials will influence others. That’s why it’s important to build all different types of trust signals and socially prove yourself in this digital age.

Tailoring your signals to your target audience:

Most important of all is to understand who your audience is. Once you identify them, you can share the social proof that matters most to them.

Baby boomers are more likely to be influenced by case studies and reviews, whereas Gen Z put more faith in social media presence.

If you know your audience, you know where to focus your attention.

How social proof works:

Despite being well and truly in the digital age, surrounded by ads and social media noise; it’s now harder than ever to inform, build trust with and engage your prospective clients.

The days of clients relying on advertisements and word of mouth when choosing services are long gone. They now look for social proof.

Social proof helps in the four main areas your prospective clients look for:

Uncertainty – Looking for guidance in an unfamiliar situation, e.g. a company looking to branch out into a new market.

Similarity – Gathering and using feedback from sources they relate to, e.g. successes and feedback from a competitor or company working in a similar field.

Expertise – Valued opinions and verification from people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than themselves.

Numbers – The number of satisfied customers in your client base or transparency of the ROI they received is greatly influential for those of your prospective clients who are financially focused.

Your prospects require guidance and help to trust you; social proof offers this in the authentic formats they want.

Where to use it:

All marketing efforts across all industries work better when they use social proof. However, you must be aware that they can work differently in different formats and places.

For example, guest blogs or endorsements from influencers and thought leaders are great to raise your brand awareness. If you’ve got a prospective client trying to choose between two suppliers, case studies and testimonials should be your main focus.

For your social proof to work for you most effectively, it must be delivered the right way at the right time, to the right audience.

Like everything important, using social proof takes a lot of work and effort.

Partnering with business development experts like Intelligent Talk can help get your social proof in front of your ideal clients, building meaningful and honest relationships.

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help take your business development efforts to the next level.

Published: 8th February 2021

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