How to Harness the Power of Third-Party Endorsements

Learn how to ensure that your LinkedIn profile provides social proof that you and your organization can deliver .

June 8, 2015


A recent article in Forbes magazine defines “social proof” as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation.” Social proof can take many forms and can be delivered through any number of channels. The social proof that shows up on your LinkedIn profile should point toward at least one recent downloadable case study and should be supported by recent endorsements and recommendations from your network of LinkedIn contacts.

One thing a lot of salespeople are afraid to do is go back to the customer after the fact and ask for a recommendation. Sales professionals should be doing this systematically. It’s important to know who your best customers are, and you should be willing to ask them, specifically, for recommendations on LinkedIn.

Social proof, in the form of third-party stories on your LinkedIn profile, is not a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have.” What you say about your product, service or company— the claims you make—are not likely to be that different from what your competitors are saying about their product, service or company. It’s the social proof verifying what you say—the recommendations, endorsements and case studies you get from those who have used your service, have been satisfied with it and are willing to tell why—that adds value to your message.

“It is not uncommon for someone to tell me after viewing my LinkedIn profile and reading the recommendations, that this is a deciding factor on whether or not to contact me and/or use my services.”

—LinkedIn user quoted in Forbes magazine, May 14, 2014

When a prospect who is looking to buy something comes across your profile and sees that lots of different people who work at lots of different companies all have something nice to say about you, that opens up trust. It adds professionalism and credibility to your profile. Your profile is not complete unless it has this kind of social proof.

How Much Should You Help?

Sometimes salespeople ask whether it’s OK to craft the ac­tual language of a recommendation for them on LinkedIn. It’s not.

If you have to craft the final wording of the recommendation, it’s not truly genuine. With that said, it’s common for some people to say to a salesperson, “I would love to give you a recommendation, but I’m a horrible writer. Can you give me an idea of what you’re looking for?” In these cases, it’s all right to give the person a list of possible bullet points or to show the person the kinds of recommendations other clients have provided.

That kind of help can start the process, but the final language needs to be your client’s, not yours.

Social Proof in a Nutshell

When you say you can do something, a prospect might take that with a grain of salt. But when 10 other people for whom you’ve done a good job step forward and say, “Yes, not only has he done it, but he’s done it more quickly, and less expensively, than we expected,” that adds value and credence to your message and gives prospective buyers a reason to take another step with you.

David Mattson is the CEO of Sandler Training, an international training and consulting organization headquartered in the United States. Since 1986, he has been a trainer and business consultant for management, sales, interpersonal communication, corporate team building, and strategic planning throughout the United States and Europe.

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