by T.J. Tedesco, Grow Sales, Inc.
- At the 2013 MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, CJ McClanahan asked the audience what made their companies special. Without waiting for an answer, he said, “Great service. Great quality.” McClanahan’s message? Figure out a way to get different. Read more…
An important rule for good writing is “show, don’t tell.” The same advice applies to sales and marketing. Once you’ve told prospects about your unique selling proposition and capabilities, it’s time to show them specifically how you can help – and have helped – companies like theirs.
That’s where proof points come in. A proof point vividly illustrates a real-life example of your product or service delivering on the promises that sales and marketing makes. Proof points build credibility for your brand and product or service, generate intrigue through the power of storytelling and are excellent tools for convincing hesitant prospects.
Here are three types of proof points your company can create to drive more business.
A few kind words from a pleased client can be worth a thousand from your CEO. Customer testimonials – peppered throughout your web and print collateral – will greatly enhance your selling messages.
Securing customer testimonials need not be a complex process. If you’ve recently completed a project and your client is thrilled, simply call and ask them to talk briefly about how you helped them out. To capture as many customer testimonials as possible, your business should formalize a testimonial-gathering process. One idea is to send all new customers a brief email survey in which they have the option to leave a testimonial or have your company contact them for one. Having a process in place will help ensure that valuable testimonial opportunities don’t slip through the cracks.
Case studies are longer, more formal pieces that detail how your business helped a client overcome a challenge. While case studies take a little more work to create than testimonials, most can be created using a simple Challenge, Solution, Results formula.
The strength of your case study largely depends on the strength of your results statement. How did you help your client save money, time or make some sort of quantifiable improvement? The more compelling and specific the ROI statement you include, the better.
Truly effective case studies will do more than just deliver the facts – they’ll grab and hold your prospects’ attention. Integrate engaging multimedia content – photos, colorful illustrations, diagrams and videos – into your case studies to draw the reader’s eye and break up the text.
If you’ve got a new customer who’s anticipating excellent ROI from working with you, why wait a whole year to let everyone know? A baseline study allows you to start showing off this awesome proof point immediately. Baseline studies are almost identical to case studies except the Results haven’t occurred yet – so you call them “Anticipated Results.” Include a bar graph with projected cost savings, production efficiency improvements – or whatever metric you expect to improve – at key benchmarks agreed upon by the client.
Then, follow up with your customer at the benchmark dates to see how closely their estimates match reality. If you find the customer’s actual ROI is within the estimate range, then you’ve got an awesome case study to boot.
T.J. Tedesco is president of Grow Sales, Inc., a Columbia, MD-based full-service sales growth firm founded in 1996. Grow Sales services include marketing, public relations, web site design and sales support. He can be reached at 301.294.9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.