The business software sales process is no longer a simple transaction to be completed with a single cold-call pitch. Buyer behavior has shifted (especially in the B2B sales process) and consumers are more informed than ever.
These empowered consumers mean your software sales process needs to be backed up by the power of social proof. Briefly defined, social proof is the mentality that third-party validation increases the likelihood of a consumer to conform to the same actions as others. Social proof can take the form of expert endorsements, word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or online user-generated reviews.
Here are four ways that the psychology of social proof enhances your software sales pipeline and overall lead generation:
1. Harnessing The Power Of Social Media
With so many people and companies using Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets as places to share their experiences with software products and services, your prospects are now heeding those reviews more than ever before.
In many cases, potential buyers prefer to get feedback from their friends and followers rather than via a website review board – especially since most users know that companies can add or delete reviews with the right amount of money.
Potential buyers might also actively solicit others’ experiences or reviews on social media platforms by asking questions like, “Has anyone bought accounting software recently? Which software vendor did you go with?” In addition, prospects turn to online professional communities for ratings, reviews and feedback (more on these communities discussed below).
2. Capturing Early Adopters
Everyone wants to be a part of the next big thing or the leading-edge software solution, but with so many new business software companies starting every month, companies are pickier than ever when reviewing potential partners.
Early adopters screen out the majority of these new software businesses by using reviews, social media and other forms of social proof. These early adopters (who are also your biggest promoters) look for the presence and experiences of others to inform their decisions and close the deal.
3. Handling Sales Objections
Social proof isn’t just for prospects initially considering you as a vendor or those just entering your software sales funnel – social proof also plays a role in addressing objections during the latter stages of the sales process as well.
One of the best ways to allay prospect fears and concerns during the sales process is through storytelling. Stories help you relate to customers and show them the proof that your solution works – particularly when you frame the story in their own industry lingo or jargon (which communicates a subtle form of social proof).
Another form of social proof that helps you handle sales objections is the use of case studies. Well-communicated case studies assure your prospects that their fears are insubstantial because others have faced similar challenges – and your software helped those people overcome their challenges. The more industry-specific and situation-specific your case studies, the more effective they’ll be at providing positive social proof for your prospects.
4. Turning Pain Into Advocacy
As more and more software prospects and customers visit online communities to seek reviews, search for product help and voice complaints, it’s important that your company listen to these customer pain points and address them before they become widespread in the community.
In these communities, social proof works both for and against your product: A complaint or concern that goes unanswered by a company representative provides social proof against your software product, while a complaint that is addressed and implemented into future software updates provides social proof for your company’s positive reputation.
Actively listening and engaging with these communities (such as Spiceworks or the Dell TechCenter) gives you an opportunity to turn concerned or complaining customers into advocates for your business. Once established members of these communities see that you’re proactively addressing comments and issues, they’ll start to advocate for your business in other sectors of the community (or in other communities entirely), providing the best kind of social proof for your software.
With consumers of your company’s software more empowered than ever before, your business can’t afford to ignore the importance of social proof. Instead, you need to embrace it. Once you harness the psychology of social proof, your software sales process becomes smoother and more cost-effective.
Want to make more informed decisions during your software sales process? Looking for more insight into what needs improvement? Click below to watch the Decoding Your Sales Data webinar, hosted by Invenio Solutions®, and discover how a closed-loop software sales cycle gives your sales team the insight it needs to drive revenue more effectively for your business.