The burden of proof. You need to prove to a potential customer, client, patient, reader or visitor that the solution you’re offering will solve their problem better, faster, easier, more-effectively or less-expensively than others.
You can answer every other question, grab attention, build rapport, establish though leadership, disqualify others, differentiate your offering, share benefit after benefit, claim superiority, reverse risk, create scarcity, incentivize immediate buying and call people to act.
But if you stumble on the issue of proof…you still lose the opportunity to help…and the sale.
People need a rational hook upon which to justify an emotional buy.
That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Simple human nature. We buy emotionally, but feel strongly compelled to be able to point to something rational as the outward basis of our purchases.
So, here are the 7 ways you can offer up the proof needed to close the loop on nearly any sale:
1. Actual Proof / Track Record
Point to examples, case-studies, research or other data that demonstrates objectively that your solution (a) works, and (b) works better than anyone else’s. If you’re a direct-response copywriter, for example, reveal your track record or conversion ratio for the recent campaigns you’ve written. If you’ve got a product that’s been studied and the data support your claims, share the results of the research. If you’ve got a product you can demonstrate, go ahead and demonstrate, let a potential buyer experience the results firsthand. If you’re selling knowledge or a thinking process, method or approach, create a body of content that demonstrates value in bite-sized pieces that, over time, add up to body of evidence.
If you have any specialized training, degree, certification, license or other accreditation or qualification, share that pedigree as another touchpoint that demonstrates you know what you’re doing and your product, service or solution rocks. So, if you’re looking to build a giant fitness private practice, you might point to your certifications or degree in exercise science. A surgeon might point to her degree and board certification in her area of specialty. Does having one of these qualifications always mean you ACTUALLY know what you’re doing? Nope. But, it’s just another piece of evidence that builds toward your burden of proof.
3. Authority Endorsement
Find a leading authority in your industry who is willing to publicly endorse you. This allows THEIR perceived authority to inure to YOUR benefit. It rubs off on you. The authority can be a person or an organization. You see this politics all the time, where one highly-respected person or group endorses a candidate in a effort to help prove that candidate’s worth to those still on the fence.
4. Celebrity Endorsement
Similar to authority endorsement, but here it’s a celebrity, rather than a perceived authority. Why does this matter? Honestly, in almost all cases, it shouldn’t, but it does. There are a variety of reasons. But sitting on top is the odd fact that millions of people either want what many celebrities have or secretly harbor a desire to “be” a celebrity.
That lays the the groundwork for a mental leap, which is “if Celebrity A loves and uses this product and they’re living the life I dream of, it must be an amazing product AND maybe if I use it, I can be just like them.” Again, is this logical? Not so much, but for many, it’s reality. And, for many, it moves the proof needle.
5. Social Proof
One of the first things people do when they are on the fence about buying something is look to see what decisions other similar people have made in a similar circumstance. The decisions of those around you, whether good or bad, hold huge sway over your decisions.
So, as a marketer, if you can demonstrate that other people “just like” your prospect regularly choose your product, service or solution over others and are thrilled with that choice, you’ve just satisfied a serious chunk of your burden of proof. Social proof, done well, is an immensely powerful part of any persuasion funnel. The typical example of this in any field is the classic testimonial. The more detailed, the more benefit-oriented, the more personal and attributable, the better.
Note – be sure to know and abide by any laws that guide the use of this type of proof for promotion.
6. Theoretical /Logical Proof – “It makes sense that…”
When you’re lacking any of the above, but you’ve got a product, service or solution that, as lawyers say, “res ipsa loquitor” or “the thing speaks for itself,” sometimes all you need to do is make the case. If “it just makes sense” that it would be the clear choice, you can lean on theoretical or logical proof.
This is the classic “if A = B and B = C, then A must = C” approach. Here, you would lay out, in the simplest, most direct and irrefutable way possible, a logical argument that allows a prospect to convince themselves that your solution is the most sensible.
7. Metaphorical Proof
This approach to providing proof is one of the most under the radar, yet potentially powerful approaches. Here, you create an anecdote in the style of a metaphor where a person in a story endures a struggle or experiences a need or pain very similar to what your typical prospective buyer would experience. You set-up the problem and demonstrate the pain, then show how that person resolved their pain and solved their problem using your product, service or solution.
If you get the first part right, the reader will subconsciously transfer themselves into the story, assuming the role of the protagonist, and like the subject of your story, come to view your product or service as the ultimate solution to their problem. Doing this artfully is not an easy task, but done well, it’s extraordinarily powerful. And, of course, the story you’re telling should be based on a genuine experience of an individual or a composite of people who’ve benefited from your solution.
Will satisfying your burden of proof assure you of a sale?
Of course not, it’s just one piece of the mental sales puzzle that needs to be solved. But, it’s a mission-critical piece. It’s nearly impossible to close any meaningful sale without it.
So, have you tapped any of these sources of proof in your marketing, copywriting or sales funnels?
Is your current sales process too light on proof to be effective?
Got any cool examples of any?
Share away in the comments…
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