How to Move from Incredible to Credible

By Heather Baldwin

You’ve got a great new product that will reduce your prospects’ manufacturing costs by 75 percent. You send your reps into the field to tout this stunning figure – and they all come back empty-handed. What’s going on? Most likely, it’s a believability problem, says Mark Joyner, CEO of Mark Joyner, Inc., and author of The Irresistible Offer: How to Sell Your Product or Service in 3 Seconds or Less (John Wiley, 2005). The bolder your claims are – the more you say you can save costs, reduce errors, boost revenues, etc. – the harder you have to work to sell your believability and credibility.

Don’t believe it? To test this assertion, a direct marketer named Mike Enlow put an ad in the newspaper offering $1,000 for every dollar you gave him. Guess how many calls flooded in? Yup – none. And that was his point, says Joyner. An offer can be so good that no one believes it, which means you have to work overtime selling your believability and credibility. Here’s how to get a prospect to listen and believe in your offer:

1. Proof. There are three types of proof you can use to bolster your believability:

  1. Social proof – provided through testimonials demonstrating there are others out there who are happy with your product or service. The more well-known the people and/or companies endorsing you, the better.
  2. Technical proof – provided through scientific validation that your product can do what it says. If you have tests that support your claims, present them in a believable way.
  3. Factual proof – provided through independent research that shows your product can do what you claim. An analyst report that states your product has been key to fueling growth or cutting costs at certain companies will make your claims far more believable.

2. Credibility. Credibility is less measurable than proof. It’s about reliability, integrity and trustworthiness. It’s about appealing to a client’s more emotional right brain and making yourself a desirable vendor. Here are four ways to boost credibility:

  • High-profile customers. If companies or people who have achieved a reputation for success and excellence become your customers, that’s a huge credibility builder. When you can say that every executive at HP uses your scheduling software, it makes a pretty compelling case for your product.
  • Qualifications. Virtually every profession or career field has an association or organization that certifies the quality of its members’ work. Look into that, says Joyner. Cite relevant degrees or credits that speak to your expertise.
  • Awards and recognition. “Potential buyers gravitate toward an offer that has a winner’s aura,” Joyner points out. Don’t lead with your awards since it will sound like bragging, but make sure your awards are mentioned in either your literature or your presentation.
  • Logic. Don’t underestimate the power of appealing to your prospect’s logical thinking. If you make a great offer with a price that beats everyone else’s by at least 10 percent, their mental wheels will be turning, wondering how your offer is possible. Just explain the facts. Tell them that your competitors spend $2 million a year on advertising, taking out full-page ads in major business publications, while your company does no advertising, so its costs are considerably lower. Once they understand the logic behind your pricing estimate and realize you aren’t cutting corners, they’ll be more apt to consider your offer as credible.