A Sales Lesson from the Show-Me State

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I’m from Missouri, the Show- Me state. Missouri’s U.S. Congressman, Willard Duncan Vandiver (1897 to 1903), is often credited for giving Missouri this unofficial slogan. At a Naval banquet, he said: “I come from a state that raises corn, cotton, and cockleburs, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

Vandiver’s sentiment also could describe the buyer’s mindset. Sellers often use frothy language to convince buyers. For example, “We have extraordinarily exceptional customer service and quality beyond measure.” This statement may be factual, but it’s far from compelling. Buyers desire more than “frothy eloquence”; buyers desire outcomes.

Value-added sellers leverage two value types to persuade buyers: perceived value and performance value. Perceived value raises the buyer’s expectation; it’s your promise. Performance value is delivering on the promise; it’s the value received. Perceived value highlights what is possible, allowing the buyer to dream. Performance value transfers the buyer’s dreams to reality.

This puts sellers in a tough spot. How can salespeople demonstrate performance value if the buyer hasn’t experienced your solution? Simple. Show the proof. Proof sources bridge the gap between perceived value and performance value.

Proof provides reassurance and peace of mind. Proof justifies the premium buyers pay to experience your solution. Translate your promise into performance. Here are three ideas to enhance your presentation with proof.

Social Proof

Social proof demonstrates how others have implemented your ideas or purchased your solution. We assign greater value to what is desired by others. Buyers like knowing that others have made the same decision and benefitted. What market leaders are utilizing your solution? And how has your solution positively impacted their business? Answering these questions offers compelling proof to cautious buyers.

Case Studies

Show me the data. Your solution is an investment for a future outcome. The dollars are in the details. Provide the buyer with customer success stories. A basic case study includes background information on the customer’s situation, a solution description, and details of how your solution impacted the customer. Bridge the gap between dreams and reality by showcasing a previous success.

Quality Certifications

If you have better quality, prove it. Our research shows that 76 percent of customers are willing to pay more if you can prove better quality. On average, customers are willing to pay 11.4 percent more for better quality. Invest in quality certifications. Promote your company’s quality awards. Collect testimonials highlighting the quality of your overall solution. Proving quality enhances profit.

Buyers have an aversion to loss – especially losing money. The buyer must believe your solution is worth what they are giving up. Proof bolsters their belief. Providing proof is more convincing than merely providing your opinion. How will you incorporate proof into your next presentation?

Paul Reilly, is a speaker, sales trainer, author of Selling Through Tough Times (McGraw-Hill, 2021), coauthor of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 2018), and host of The Q and A Sales Podcast. For additional information on Reilly’s keynote presentations and seminars, call 636.778.0175 or email paul@reillysalestraining.com. Visit tomreillytraining.com and signup for the free newsletter.

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