7 Ways To Prove Extraordinary Value

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The moment you ask someone to buy something from you, or work with you, you take on a Herculean burden…

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.

2. Pedigree

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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24 responses

24 responses to “7 Ways To Prove Extraordinary Value”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths and TwittyBean, Santi Chacon. Santi Chacon said: The 7 Layers of Proof Needed to Sell Anything to Anyone: The moment you want someone to buy something from you, yo… http://bit.ly/dBj6r6 […]

  2. Amy Harrison says:

    The celebrity endorsement can be a fickle friend, and if you pick a character who doesn’t resonate with your target market, it can do more harm than good.

    A few years ago, in the UK there was a car insurance company that used a larger than life celebrity in a series of adverts. The adverts became incredibly well known because of the wacky character, but when people were buying car insurance, they didn’t want “wacky” they wanted reliable and trustworthy and sales apparently dropped a lot.

    The other risk is that people remember the celebrity and forget the product.

    Great article and tips to conquer the marketer’s burden of proof!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      No doubt, it’s always important to pick wise when tying your credibility to a celebrity. Not my fave approach, but it can work when done well.

  3. Great article Jonathan. A word which I think sums this all up, which you’ve also used in this article, is the term authority.

    Being an authority on a certain topic is a combination of all of the above; you have a successful track record, you have the qualifications as justification, and you are recognised by celebrities/the social graph as the person to go to. And thus being an authority most definitely will help to close a sale.

    I like to use the power of social proof in emails I send back to prospective advertisers. By demonstrating that “Company X” who happens to be the largest insurance price-comparison website in the country has started a campaign with us, it immediately signifies that we are a business worth associating with, and it almost always helps to close a deal.

  4. Jaky Astik says:

    Well, yes, you do need to give a proof. But what if you could make a product that proves itself?

  5. I think the internet has made it even harder to sell if you don’t come with the proofs you list here. There are so man scum bags selling online, that now, to rise above all that, you will need proof/testimonials/support from every angle

  6. Jeff Gardner says:

    Most excellent resource Jonathon and thanks so much for putting it together.

    It’s really timely and useful.

    Here’s why.

    Last week, I launched what I thought was an irresistible offer to a pretty tough audience (RV Dealers and Manufacturers, Destination Marketers and Tourism Organisations).

    The offer was for advertising on our new web site …

    … hardly up there in the trust-worthiness stakes I here you thinking.

    The site is a new directory type site addressing the Recreation Vehicle market in Australia.

    It’s a strongly growing market, underpinned by very favourable demographics, a market that’s hungry for a seemingly endless array of vehicles, gear and services, many of which are big ticket items.

    Folks involved with this lifestyle don’t mind spending money on it.

    And, the landscape is intensely competitive.

    All good macro level stuff.

    I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that as a new site,

    I’ve found that there is a natural level of ambient mistrust to overcome …

    … before the trust building process you champion can even begin.

    When building anything new, I’m as keen as the next bloke to get it out the door, and this project was no exception …

    … but I knew that I needed the site to be full of stock (vehicles to sell) as well as having other big name advertisers already supporting the site …

    … before we sent out our offer to the 5,000 or so advertising prospects we have identified.

    It took months of frankly pretty tedious work to create the content, inventory and seed advertisers but I’m so glad we did.

    Because, without a platform that dispels the naturally arising, latent mistrust lurking in every prospect’s mind, our offer would have bombed big time.

    My point is that before you can build trust you first have to neutralize inherent mistrust.

    In our case, I think we’ve done that as far as a newbie site with limited resources ever can, and as a result our compelling initial advertising offer, containing many of the offer elements you mention, had some open space in which to be fairly considered, unburdened by unspoken mistrust.

    Dispelling this prejudicial mistrust allowed us to start the trust building process.

    We did by disclosing our site analytics to show we’re getting more targeted traffic than most of our advertising prospects.

    So it seems like it’s all falling into place, with very positive conversion so far, but it’s too early to call it a raging success.

    Without doubt, it would have been much a harder process if we hadn’t first cleared the decks by answering the often unasked question fluttering on every prospect’s lips,

    “Why should I even think about whether to trust you, you new interweb thing?”

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      great point, the worse the reputation of the space, the harder you have to work to prove you’re the real deal.

      • Andrew says:

        Definitely hurdles to overcome online versus physical presence. Another example would be social media gurus, marketing or seo specialists.

        Someone like chris brogan establishes credibility because he’s written books and practices what he preaches.

        Yet there are lots who claim to have the easy answers.

        Would ut be fair to say that the more difficult to overcome the hurdle the more opportunities it will present?

  7. DiTesco says:

    Well said and thanks to @chrisgarrett for pointing me towards this direction. Proof, whether its a proven track record or metaphorical, is by far the most important “trigger” to conclude a sale. I do not see any other alternative for going around this unless of course someone is a trusted brand, and the “res ipsa loquitor” attitude is omnipresent. At the very least, the “logical proof” should be part of the minimum information one should provide to entice a sale.

  8. Jim Vickers says:

    This is a great checklist to compare your product or service and your sales approach against. I can think of one more key ingredient that is not a proof but will kill most of your proof if it’s not there. You must seriously believe in yourself and the value of what you have to offer. If that’s not the foundation of your proof, that will eventually undermine the effectiveness of your proof.

  9. Josh Kilen says:

    Isn’t the metaphorical proof simply a testimonial? Granted, a well crafted one (something that rarely gets done in my experience), but a testimonial nonetheless…

  10. Mars Dorian says:

    That’s an ass-kicking list, Jonathan.

    And it’s super-vital too. All of your points make complete sense, but I LUV especially point 7 !

    The story approach is one of the best (and possibly hardest) to master.

    It has both – logical value and emotional inspiration.

    THis is one magical step that I want to master.

    My favorite marketers on this planet happen to be incredible storytellers. What a coincidence 😉

  11. Joel Libava says:

    Awesome post, Jonathan…

    The tools needed to make sure that we can “prove ourselves” are at our fingertips, like never before.

    We just have to use them.

    The Franchise King®

  12. Dan Perez says:

    Jonathan, I think you’re putting way more than need be into the sales process. People will buy something if you can effectively show them how it will benefit them. Moreover, not all sales are emotional ones and with all the information available online, consumers are more knowledgeable than ever. Here’s where I think you left out one key factor in selling: the salesperson.

    Salespeople that are knowledgeable about their product/service, who can read a prospect’s body language, can ask the right questions, are prepared for objections, who listen and, most importantly, can get the prospect to “like” him/her (I never bought something from someone I didn’t like), will usually make the sale more so than the combination of points 2-7. Just ask any successful salesperson.

    Nuff said.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Dan,

      Gotta disagree. It doesn’t matter whether your sales process is online, offline or face-to-face, you can’t sell without proving value. it’s a mission critical element of every sales presentation. You actually agree.

      You mentioned people will buy from you “effectively show them how it will benefit them.” That’s the proof process, proving value/benefit. Either way, “showing” is just a form of proving.

      Just saying it might be enough if you’ve already proven your own credibility enough for people to buy into the truth of what you’re saying. If not, you’ll need to prove the value/benefit of what your selling more directly. Either way, proof is a critical part of the buying process.

      As I mentioned, all those other elements, including rapport and likeability are important, but proof still matters. Easy way to test this is to try to sell anything consistently without either proving your own veracity or proving the benefit/value of what you’re selling. Can’t be done. At least, not without ending up with a whole lotta buyer’s remorse.

  13. Jane says:

    As a designer of mostly information products (annual reports, non-newsstand magazines, collateral, even identity work might qualify) it’s very hard to track results. Many clients, especially nonprofits, don’t really know why x piece is being produced. If they do, they don’t necessarily have a system in place to track results. And often the results are somewhat intangible, and hearsay.

    A designer or a writer can and should be part of defining hoped-for results and how to track them. But many of us work on projects that don’t have website shopping-cart results to follow, in order that we can better sell our worth to the next client.

    Often it feels like you’re bothering the client if you ask how successful something was. I want to know if it was effective, not just for my marketing purposes, but I really want to know!

    Thanks for laying out options. I’d love to use #1 but find it elusive.

  14. Evan says:

    I’m a self-development blogger. I haven’t organised it yet but I’m thinking of giving people the option to try out a sample of my self-development products. This way they would find out that the stuff works for them. The proof would be their own experience. I’m wondering what other people think about this idea.

  15. Phew, gret post, looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me!! Being new to the arena of blogging and network marketing I am finding my To Do list growing by leaps and bounds. This is certainly quite the work out for the internet newbie. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. Gland to have made your aquaintence

  16. Jen Price says:

    I enjoyed your article. I sell software, I’m the technical expert on how to setup, deploy and maintain our software solutions. I do our product demo, and answer the customers questions on specifics. I tag along with a Sales person who does the calling, builds the relationship, deals with contracts, etc.
    While I have the industry experience and pedigree as you put it, I’ve learned that sometimes the sale depends on items other than the product. Items such as how the payment for the product is handled, which budget year will the money be transfered, will there be costs for changes, etc. Or many times it is purely political where somebody with the purchasing decision has a realtionship with a vendor.
    My point is twofold:
    1. The ‘proof’ can be offered by different people within the vendor organization
    2. Sometimes all the ‘proof’ is meaningless or several vendors have ‘proof’, so the sale comes down to pricing, or politics.

  17. Radu says:

    Newbies can use 6 and 7, maybe 2 and 3 as well. I am a fan of content and freebies – some way to prove by giving something for free or for a trial (limited) period.

  18. […] Marketing Checklist: 7 Ways To Prove You Rule – Listed are 7 ways you can offer up the proof needed to close the loop on nearly any sale. From Pedigree to Social Proof this will have you well on your way to being a master of any sale. […]