Maximize the Effectiveness of Proof Points in Your Sales Conversations
Categories: Sales Conversation
Customer testimonials are an asset to any sales conversation. Providing tangible points on how your solution provides the results you promise strengthens your message. Making the connection between third-party evidence and your prospect’s business challenges can provide the necessary validation to turn an opportunity into a closed deal.
Proof Points Defined:
We define proof points as verifiable evidence, preferably from a third party, that your solution can address your customer’s needs and deliver on the positive business outcomes you promise. They can come in several different forms including standard customer references, case studies, industry awards and analyst-sponsored reports and studies.
The ability to effectively articulate these stories of success in a way that has meaning to the buyer in your sales conversation is a critical skill. Here are the steps you can take to maximize the effectiveness of proof points in your sales conversations.
1. Do a White Space Analysis
Effective proof points speak to the priorities and the perspectives of your customer.
You could have great success stories from your clients, but if you aren’t making a conscious effort to turn those measurable results into hard hitting proof points – they aren’t any good to your sales conversations. Map your proof points. Determine where you have the strongest tangible evidence about the value of your solutions, and then determine the gaps. Which of your value drivers need stronger proof behind them? Do you need more up-to-date proof points or proof points on new or elevated solutions? Work with marketing to gather results and develop additional proof points to leverage in front of future prospects. Leverage your identified white space for gaps you can close using future customer success stories and metrics.
2. Own the Proof Point Process
The greatest proof points come from the sales team. Best-in-class sellers know the successes in their accounts. Don’t delegate your proof points to marketing. You have the client relationships and trusted advisor status to gather measurable results. Marketing can help package the message, but sellers are the ones with the ability to map the story. Enable your marketing team to demonstrate the value of your solutions through well-curated proof points by taking charge of gathering the proof as soon as possible after a successful engagement.
Just like negotiation starts at the beginning of the sales process, you can also lay the groundwork for gathering proof points at the start of your engagement. Let the decision-maker know that you would like a publishable quote or testimonial video when you meet the success metrics. It may also be a good idea to include “capturing a proof point” in the contract, so you can ensure you get what you need. Build strong relationships with your champions in your accounts so you can leverage them for proof points later on.
3. Focus on the Numbers
Testimonial quotes can help demonstrate the impact of your solution, but they aren’t nearly as powerful as measurable results. In a sales conversation, it’s much easier to articulate your value when you have numbers to back it up. Drill down on the positive business outcomes of your solution. Always look for specific measurable results – in dollars, numbers or percentages – when gathering evidence on the impact of your product and services.
Find numbers that could lead to proof points that help you better achieve your company's goals. For example, if a main KPI for the sales team is to increase up-sells or cross-sells, keep that in the back of your mind when working to collect more metrics of customer success and proof points. Do you have champions in closed accounts that achieved certain metrics by implementing one part of your solution, who then extended their success when they came back to implement more of your tech suite? How can you put those numbers into a story for future conversations to improve cross-sells, up-sells, etc?
4. Leverage Your Proof Points to Tell the Right Story at the Right Time
Proof points can be leveraged at varying points in the sales process, including:
- Getting someone’s attention
- Demonstrating an understanding of a buyer's pain points
- Showing your differentiation
- Mitigating risk for the economic buyer
Proof points can carry a lot of weight and can make your job easier — when used effectively. While they can be used at various times for the above reasons, it’s important to note that how you use them plays a major role in their success in front of your prospect. The more you’re able to effectively articulate tangible proof points in a way that’s meaningful to your prospects, the more they will see the value in doing business with you.
When you’re gearing up to use your proof points ensure you’re maximizing their effectiveness by telling the right story at the right time. Do you know enough about your buyer’s desired positive business outcomes and success metrics to craft the right story and incorporate the right proof points? Can you say for certain you’ve done enough discovery to ensure the proof points you plan to leverage will be relevant and meaningful to your buyer?
If not, dig deeper. Ensure you have enough information to align your proof points to your buyer’s challenges in a way that’s meaningful to them. Understanding your customer’s buying criteria will improve your ability to align their challenges to proof points that are relevant and meaningful to them. Beyond executing great discoveries, ensure you know your proof points cold so you can be audible-ready or prepared to effectively integrate them into sales conversations at the right time. The most elite sales people memorize their proof points so they can effectively align them to their live opportunities at the right time in a way that’s relevant to each of their prospects.
Develop a Company-Wide Proof Point Process:
Companies that accelerate growth have the customer proof points that matter to new buyers. These organizations have likely implemented a process that supports their salespeople in consistently gathering proof from customers and using them effectively. They implement processes that support their sellers in ensuring they have the right evidence to validate their solutions in front of future prospects. If you’re in an organization that supports your ability to create and leverage impactful proof points — use it to your advantage. Leverage the steps covered in this blog to maximize the effectiveness of your proof points in future sales conversations.
Like proof points, there are other processes you can identify to determine if you’re in the right place to grow your sales career or if it’s time to start looking elsewhere. This episode of the Audible-Ready podcast covers what you can look out for in your organization to ensure you’re in a company that’s staged for growth.