A few years back, I became enamored with Chinese medicine. So much so that I even applied to a number of top acupuncture and Chinese medicine schools in New York. After being accepted, I requested a meeting with an admission advisor for each and asked a series of questions.
Most were easily answered, but one seemed to stump every one.
I had a family to support in NYC and that requires a substantial income. So, I asked:
Can you please provide me with the contact information for 3 to 5 graduates who have been able to earn a substantial/6-figure income?
If they were asking me to pony up $50,000 and 4 years of my life, I needed to know (and my wife needed to know) that I’d not only be able to turn that into a career that I loved, but one that could generate a comfortable income for a NYC family.
At first, the advisors balked and talked around the issue, saying it was such an individual thing. I said I understood that, which is why, of the thousands of graduates, I was only asking them to identify 3 to 5 that had done well. They said they’d get back to me. One one did, it took a week and only one number was provided.
I called that person and was told that I most people never come close to earning a living, end up working another job part time and, even those who succeed should allow for a solid 5-10 years before being able to earn enough to do it full time. Yikers! And, this was the sole person the school could uncover as proof that acupuncturists can earn big livings.
Now, I also have friends who are in the field and they shared the same outlook. One, in fact, does earn a very solid living, because she affiliated herself with a large medical practice and leased offices within the practice. But, she also shared, it was still a daily struggle to educate both her clients and potential referral sources on the efficacy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
In the end, I wasn’t convinced and, because I had a number of other passions that offered substantially more plausible paths to a good living, I went in a different direction.
But, the big lesson here, from a marketing standpoint, for any small business, Career Renegade or professional, is that people want proof of your claims. When someone is interested, but uncertain about whether to retain you or buy your stuff, he or she will look to
- (1) see how other like-minded people have made the same decision, and
- (2) find “proof” that what you are selling or promising is the real deal.
It’s called social proof and actual proof. And, if you can’t deliver these, there’s a good change you’re going to lose a ton of sales. That’s why so many sales processes use testomials, case studies, surveys and other sources of proof that come from third parties.
Because, they are critical to the process of persuasion. Leave them out at your peril.
So, what do you think? Ever had a similar experience? On either side of the conversation?
How have you handled it?
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