Social Proof - one of the six methods of influence identified by Dr Cialdini - is essentially what other people say about you. Social Proof can range from informal commentary to formal qualifications.
Medicine, architecture, and law, for example, are professions regulated by law and requiring formal qualification in order to practice. Such qualifications, in a sense, act as professional social proof - typically denoted by suffixes and prefixes surrounding practitioners’ names. This kind of social proof is generally well-regulated and verified easily via registers or professional bodies.
Informal social proof, on the other hand, comes from many sources – customers, colleagues, suppliers, neighbours, community groups, etc. Clearly, with this degree of scope, informal social proof can be much greater in volume. It can still carry great weight, as witnessed by the many sources of social proof available online. It’s almost impossible to book a hotel without finding out what the previous 50 guests thought of the room, ambience, car parking, local shopping, etc.
So how can social proof help you deliver persuasive presentations?
Well, the lesson to learn is how influential named customer comments can be. How many do you currently use in your sales presentations? If testimonials have been a deal breaker for you personally, why not extend the logic professionally?
Testimonials can be text, audio or video, but the real value lies in them being attributed. If at all possible, they should be attributed to people whose opinion your audience would hold in high esteem.
By way of an example, here’s a client comment from our English Business Presentations programme:
This testimonial works because Friedbert has managed to succinctly link clear business benefits to the work done with Active Presence. When collecting testimonials from your own clients, always try to have them (if possible) connect the work you did for them to some tangible benefit they experienced. Others will wonder if you could do the same for them.
This six-part series is based on Robert Cialdini’s methods of influencing people, as per his pivotal 1984 text Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion. We have adapted the six methods of influence to illustrate their applicability to the creation and delivery of memorable, more persuasive sales presentations.
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