OUR BLOG

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Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?

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CLOSE DEALS FASTER USING PROOF STATEMENTS

HOW AND WHEN ORGANIC PROSPECTS VIEW THESE

When I travel through airports, I often read the signs that line the walls. One sign in particular caught my attention recently. It was from a law firm and it said: “lady justice may be blind, but she sees things our way 97% of the time.” Now that is quite a claim. Essentially, they are saying that they win 97% of their cases. That’s impressive.

This got me thinking about something. Most service firms have to make strong claims about what they can do for their clients. After all, services are intangibles and if you give someone money, you want to know what you’ll get in return. But most sophisticated service buyers don’t just listen for the claim. They also look for the proof. After all, anyone can claim anything, yet proving it is a whole other story.

Proof statements are a critical part of a modern digital marketing strategy for service firms. But you might be quite surprised at what we’ve learned about proof statements and the role they play with organic prospects on the inbound journey. I’d like to share with you why you need proof statements, what kind you need and how to use them to close deals faster.

KEY TAKE-AWAY:

 

ORGANIC PROSPECTS WANT TO DO THEIR OWN DUE DILIGENCE AND SEE SUPPORTING EVIDENCE OF A CLAIM THAT IS ENTICING TO THEM BEFORE THEY ENTER DIALOGUE.

What Is An Organic Prospect?

In case you haven’t hear this term before, an “organic prospect” has a very specific meaning for us. An organic prospect is someone who:

  • Has never done business with you.
  • Was not in your database, was not a referral from an existing client or partner and was not in contact with you before they started their inbound journey.
  • Knew very little about you before they started their inbound journey and you knew nothing about them.
  • Was not predisposed to want to work with you and had no reason to say yes to you before they started their inbound journey.

This is how I think of organic prospects. They are truly new business.

What Is A Proof Statement?

A proof statement is a set of supporting points that prove a claim to be true. For example, the law firm I referenced a moment ago might offer as a proof statement the judgments rendered from their case file history. As long as they can prove that 97% of their cases resulted in favorable outcomes for their clients, they have proved their claim.

But this is not the sort of proof statement I’m talking about. Organic prospects who are trying to decide who they should work with for a service engagement do their homework online. Most of these people want to conduct their own due diligence completely independent of a human being. This means that your proof statements need to be digital in nature and likely located on your website.

Most service organizations today offer proof statements in the form of testimonials, case studies and documonials. There may be other forms of proof statements, but these three are the most common.

Effective Versus Ineffective Proof Statements

Effective proof statements position a service firm’s value proposition, their claim, in front of their ideal clients. An ideal client is the kind of person that a service firm is ideally suited to serve. A value proposition is the reason that person will choose that service provider.

For example, let’s assume an IT consulting firm makes the claim that they can improve the productivity of their client’s staff by 500%. That is a pretty specific claim and it is targeted at the kind of company who wants to improve employee productivity. How might the IT consulting firm prove this claim?

A moment ago I suggested that most service firms use testimonials, case studies and documonials as proof statements. But which of these three is most likely to support a specific type of claim – like a 500% improvement in employee productivity? Let’s explore this a little bit.

Many service firms get testimonials from their clients. But when we dig into these a little bit, we often find almost no relationship between a company’s primary claim and their testimonials. Testimonials, in fact, often are the shallowest of proof statements. They typically sound like this: we used ABC consulting and we are happy with them.

Testimonials, the way most service firms use them, almost sound like endorsements, the kind of endorsements that professional athletes make. And we all know that endorsements are paid advertising, where the person endorsing a product is paid to say those kind words.

It is my strong sense that most testimonials do almost nothing to persuade inbound prospects that the company they are considering can actually do what they claim they can do. Testimonials may have their place in your marketing plan, but I wouldn’t count on them serving as an effective proof statement of a specific claim. And as you’ll see in just a moment, organic prospects choose to engage or withdraw based on the quality of the proof statement.

Case studies and documonials, on the other hand, might effectively support a service firm’s claims. In case you are not familiar with the term documonial, they are essentially a video-based case study. Case studies and documonials can be used to showcase how a specific client actually realized the claim.

Now you may not find this particularly surprising or earth-shattering. After all, a lot of service firms also use case studies. But what I’m about to share with you may be something you haven’t heard before.

The Inbound Journey

Before I share that insight with you, I want to explain a key concept that is critical for today’s modern digital marketer: the inbound journey. The inbound journey is the set of steps that most organic prospects will take as they move inbound toward your company, as they decide whether or not they will engage in dialogue with you.

The inbound journey I’m about to describe is nearly 100% digital in nature. In our experience, most organic prospects will try to remain as invisible as possible as they are conducting their due diligence.

It’s usually only after they’ve made up their minds that a service provider has ticked some very specific boxes that they then reach out for a conversation. We’ve watched this happen hundreds of times for us and for our clients and we now know what those steps look like that precede a conversation. Here they are:

  • Anonymous – where they surf your website and sample your content without identifying themselves.
  • Acknowledged – where they register for a content asset and submit their personal information.
  • Engaged – where they spend time thinking about your ideas and how you can help them.
  • Leaning-in – where they are predisposed to want to enter serious dialogue with you as soon as they have need and budget.

This is how the modern digital inbound journey works for us and for our clients.

When Proof Statement Appear In Digital Footprints

We came to see the stages of the inbound journey after analyzing the digital footprint of literally hundreds of inbound organic prospects. We deploy marketing automation for all of our clients as the foundation of marketing infrastructure. This allows us to see the digital footprint of the people who are in their CRM, such as Salesforce. After analyzing hundreds, possibly even thousands of digital footprints, we discovered a trend.

Testimonials had almost no bearing on whether or not an organic prospect, someone who is new to their CRM, reached out for a conversation. Time-on-page in the testimonials section of the website was often quite shallow, sometimes just a few seconds. More than that, we could not discover a clear correlation between an organic prospect visiting a testimonials page and then requesting a conversation.

But there was a strong correlation between a request for a meeting and pageviews of case studies and documonials. The correlation we discovered goes like this.

If an organic prospect:

  • Encountered a blog-post on a specific topic that directed them to register for a deeper-dive content asset like an e-book or action guide on the same topic,
  • If the prospect registered for that e-book or action guide,
  • If there was a proof statement, like a case study or documonial, on the same topic as the blog-post and e-book and if the prospect viewed one of them,
  • Then a request for a meeting usually ensued within 30 days or fewer of viewing the proof statement.
  • What’s more, if the prospect was a good fit and had appropriate budget, a deal usually closed in roughly half the normal time and with much higher profit margins.

That is a powerful correlation. I want to be clear. This did not happen 100% of the time and it also did not always happen in this order. The inbound journey can often be circuitous and non-linear. Most organic prospects don’t think or act in a straight line.

But the key insight here is that the case study or documonial nearly always preceded the request for dialogue. The proof statement was the last thing the organic prospect seemed to need to convince them that a conversation was in order.

The conclusion we have drawn from this is as follows. Organic prospects want to do their own due diligence and want to see supporting evidence of a claim that is enticing to them BEFORE they choose to request dialogue.

The Implications For Service Firms

I believe there are three very important implications we can draw from this insight:

  1. You need to make a strong correlation between your content marketing topics and your proof statements because prospects will look for that proof once you’ve made the claim.
  2. You need to make this entire journey available to organic prospects in a digital space so they can feel as if they are in control of their journey.
  3. You can track these inbound prospects and be prepared to engage them in meaningful dialogue if you are anticipating their conversation request. This shortens sales cycles and gets your consultants to deals faster and with higher profits because the prospects are already persuaded that you are right for them.

I’d like to offer some suggested next steps here for this last point – anticipating the conversation.

First, I recommend that you get marketing automation properly deployed at your organization if you have not already done so because everything I’m talking about here is only made possible by way of a real marketing automation deployment.

Second, I recommend that you set up a digital funnel that allows you to track prospects who display certain types of behaviors, specifically what I outlined above. If your consultants are conducting their due diligence as organic prospects are coming inbound, things can move much faster once you enter dialogue.

Third, I’d like to recommend that you anticipate which consultants might be right for certain types of inbound prospects before those prospects reach out for a conversation. This also allows you to get to deals faster. If a consultant is aware that an organic prospect might be inbound in their direction, that consultant can reach out and connect with the prospect on LinkedIn, visit their website and even conduct their own research to be ready for the conversation.

Where To Go From Here

In this post I’ve shared some pretty compelling insights with you that you may not have heard before. But this is just the tip of the iceberg that you’ll find in an e-book I’ve developed called Ten Things Service Websites Must Do To Drive Revenue. If you want to close deals faster with organic prospects, I know this e-book will really help you.

About The Author

Randy Shattuck is a seasoned entrepreneur who works hand-in-hand with senior leaders of mid-size professional service firms to grow revenues, acquire clients, open new markets, increase profits and effectively position their brands.

OUR BLOG

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?