“This is great stuff. I could make a career out of this guy! You see how clever his part is? How it doesn’t require a shred of proof? Most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant!” -Dr Peter Silberman, The Terminator
The Forms of Evidence You Can Use in Sales
In the Dale Carnegie Course and the Sales Advantage Course, we have a formula for remembering the types of evidence that participants can use to support their position in a discussion or a sales presentation.
When we express our opinions, or sell our services, we encounter less resistance when we provide information supporting our claims. In the Dale Carnegie Course, participants practice applying the various forms of evidence to make their arguments more persuasive. In that process, we use multiple forms of evidence which you can remember with the acronym DEFEATS.
The various forms of evidence are as follows:
Demonstrations: Show the operation of the product you are promoting.
Exhibits: A physical representation for your audience to focus on.
Facts: Something about your product that is measurable.
Examples: A situation where your service performed well.
Analogies: Compare your idea to something that your can audience can easily understand.
Testimonials: Written or spoken support from one of your clients.
Statistics: Numbers gathered about your product’s performance in certain circumstances.
Applying the Forms of Evidence in Sales
In one sales class, we were discussing how to use the forms of evidence when engaging a technical audience. One participant asked, “How can we tell the difference between an exhibit and a demonstration?”
This is how the sales instructor explained the differences:
If I hold my demo unit up high for all to see, it’s an exhibit. Now, if I start to turn knobs and press buttons, it becomes a demonstration. If I talk about how other clients are using it, it’s an example. But if I let the client talk about it themselves, either through a letter or a podcast, then it’s a testimonial.
When considering evidence, remember that certain audiences will relate to some forms better than others. Technical people love to see things in action, so a hands-on demonstration will go over well with them. Executives, however, prefer to see the big picture. They often want to know about other executives who are using your services. They will relate better to testimonials. Money people, like the CFO, are typically detailed oriented. So, statistics and facts will appeal to them.
Remember, these are generalizations. Research your target audience before creating your presentation. Then, tailor your presentation and the supporting evidence to make the best case for your offering.
When I served as a sales engineer, our team often carried a portable systems to show the system administrators, giving them a chance to touch the unit. However, when we talked to the executive team, the sales reps used written testimonials from peer executives. This strategy worked for selling capital equipment. Adjust it accordingly to work for your situation.
When you’re out there making your sales presentations, always keep some forms of evidence with you. It will make your sales process and your life a lot easier.