Evidence – The Key to Overcoming Doubt

evidence in sales presentations exhibits are but one form

As salespeople, we have to use forms of evidence to help convince, persuade, and influence the buyer. Remember, everything from here on out relies on the three elements of our Specific Interest Statement: presenting our solution, referencing the primary interests, and appealing to their buying motive. Now that we have that foundation, we need to climb our way to the top of the mountain over obstacles using evidence, practical applications, and showing the benefits of our prescription.

Overcoming Doubt and Resistance to Change

At this stage, the inherent obstacle is doubt. I don’t mean the doubt they may have in the salesperson’s abilities or the solution, although that certainly is a real factor. But right now, I’m referring to the buyer or prospect doubting if they even have an issue. Often, they’re wrestling with the question: “Do I really need to do anything?”

Here’s a tip to keep in mind. Change is hard. And at the end of the day, salespeople sell change.

When I’m teaching in a classroom, I’ll ask my participants to conduct a simple exercise.  I’ll ask them all to fold their hands naturally, like in a praying position. When I ask them how it feels, they all agree that it feels good – which usually means they don’t even notice it.

Then I’ll tell them to move their fingers up a rung or down a rung, so that the thumb that was on top is now under the thumb on the opposing hand. And then I’ll ask them how that feels. They always remark that it feels strange, different, that it feels like somebody else’s hand. I had one person remark that it felt ugly!

Like the folding hands exercise, we’re often selling people a way to do something differently. We’re trying to get them to change. Now, if we go back to buying motives, we have to revisit Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most motives fall under those needs. And they exist at a corporate and individual level.

So if we’re selling change, it is imperative that we leverage the motivational factors to ease that transition.

Target the Challenge with a Specific Prescription

When selling change, there are two things we have to consider to ease this transition and move the sale forward.

First, the prescription has to deal with the specific situation. Just like a doctor isn’t going to prescribe every medicine ever invented to solve your medical condition, you shouldn’t pitch everything in your product arsenal. Yet most salespeople have a tendency to throw a bunch of solutions up on the wall and hope something sticks. We call that they “spray and pray” method.

Realize when you just spit out a bunch of benefits or opportunities, or you say something vague like, “Hey, here are some of the outcomes that you can achieve,” it actually causes more doubt. Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is give somebody specific enough information, and just enough of it, to help them make a buying decision. More is not always better.

Leveraging the Power of Evidence

The second thing we have to consider is incorporating evidence into our prescription.

Over the last few years, we’ve done business with over sixty pro-sports clients and fifteen clients from the insurance industry. We’ve trained nearly two thousand salespeople and found one thing to be consistent – they all rely heavily on two types of evidence: statistics and examples. They rarely used any other form of evidence.

Well, there are a number of ways to present evidence. Check out your options:

  1. A demo, a physical demonstration with the proper model to illustrate your prescription, like the moving company.
  2. An example, you’re providing the buyer with a relevant story about a satisfied customer.
  3. A fact, something current about the market, the business they are in, their environment… You want to keep the facts relevant to the topic under discussion.
  4. An exhibit, graphs, charts, materials, photos, or other materials that show evidence to support the salesperson’s solution.
  5. An analogy is when you’re comparing your solution to another situation that the buyer might be familiar with. Be sure to check out this week’s sales training exercise on building analogies.
  6. A testimonial, a third-party confirmation (video, written, it could be anything). Again, be sure to check out this sales training exercise on building testimonials.
  7. And statistics is the use of accurate, relevant numbers to support your solution.

Remember Doug with the nest egg analogy? That wasn’t just a physical prop. It was an analogy as well as a demonstration. This guy was one of the best Merrill Lynch sales reps in the country, and that’s why he’s successful. He was able to teach, tailor, and convince me using evidence in a variety of forms.

As salespeople, we need to rely on the SEES model: Statistics, Examples, Exhibits, and Stories.

Increasing your Powers of Influence using Evidence and Specificity

If we go back to our medical conversation, there are probably a lot of things a doctor can do to make somebody better. But at some point, doing more only causes confusion and doubt. When possible, a doctor is going to keep their prescription simple, straightforward, and convincing.

A salesperson needs to do the same thing.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happens all the time. Salespeople have a bad habit of overwhelming their prospects with details, hoping that they will find something that will stick.

Don’t be like the typical salesperson. Don’t  fall into the “show up and throw up” habit. Hold to resolving a specific challenge and offer a specific solution. And use a variety of forms of evidence to support your solution. You’ll easily overcome doubt and move the sale forward.

You’ll find more ideas on using evidence in your sales process in Lance Tyson’s book, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World available on Amazon. Get your copy today!

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