The Need for Evidence

August 27, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

Plenty of people are looking for evidence; the police and the courts, bounty hunters and, most importantly, buyers. It is, of course, this final group that this article is about.

One definition of evidence is: a thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgement. This is an equally valid definition whether we are talking about justice or purchasing.

There are three points in the buying process at which good evidence is needed in order to keep the buyer engaged with your brand or products/services:

  1. during the initial shortlisting stage
  2. during any final shortlisting stage
  3. as part of the final selection process

Initial Shortlisting

When buyers, or the person doing the investigative work, have entered the active buying stage, 93% of buyers start their search online. Online doesn’t now automatically mean Google, Bing or the other search engines. As many as 7/10 will use social media platforms as a starting point.

Once they find a potential supplier they buyer will look for evidence that the supplier could provide what they are looking for. A recent review of a client’s Google Analytics account showed that the case studies attracted more traffic than any other section of the website, apart from the Home page.

Final Shortlisting

Okay, you’ve got through the initial selection phase. You’ve had at least one telephone conversation with the buyer, or their assistant, and maybe an initial meeting. You have confirmed you are interested in the opportunity and they, based on your conversations, still believe you are a good potential supplier for their needs. The evidence you have shown them at this point is people-based. The buyer has talked to and/or met with customer-facing people who have started the process of trust development. People buy people and if the buyer neither likes nor trusts the people he meets from your company, the opportunity, for you, stops here.

Final Selection

You’re down to the last three (it’s almost always three isn’t it!). You’ve had various meetings, you’ve put in your proposal (more evidence) that includes a number of testimonials (evidence) and maybe even the contact details for client referees (the best evidence). Your proposal talks about how you are going to resolve the pain the client is currently experiencing as opposed to a description of your services. Now all you can do is wait for that elusive email or call to say you’ve got the business.

All the way through you have been providing evidence of your abilities to deliver on the buyer’s needs:

  1. case studies on your website and blog articles, maybe even recommendations on your LinkedIn Company Page.
  2. Well-trained and professional staff who can develop a relationship and talk knowledgably about your products and services
  3. Clearly structured proposal documents that talk about the customer and not just about you.
  4. A collection of relevant testimonials from happy customers
  5. A group of customers who are happy to provide glowing references and talk about how you have helped them.

Now think back to the initial stages of the buying process. What would happen if you didn’t have this evidence?

Nigel Davey
Small Business Marketing Consultant

I help small businesses to improve the return on investment (ROI) from their marketing spend.

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