That Time When Name Dropping Backfired

Here’s a mistake I made as a younger salesperson, so you don’t have to.

I landed a meeting with McDonald’s.

At the time, we had another big-name customer, Principal Financial Group.

I thought name-dropping Principal would give me instant credibility. Robert Cialdini says social proof is one of the six key principles of persuasion, right?

So during the discovery call, I mentioned how much money we saved Principal on payroll taxes last year.

The VP of HR interrupted me and said, “We’re nothing like Principal. Our employees don’t sit behind a desk.”


The lesson?

References don’t matter unless they matter to your prospect.

If I had a do-over, I would have said this:

“We currently servicing 12 million remote employees and saved customers over 43 million in payroll taxes last year.”

See the difference?

I’m referencing the crowd, not a customer.

The psychology?

People tend to adopt certain behaviors simply because others similar to them do so.

The momentum of a crowd is a good way to lower the Zone of Resistance.

The many is more persuasive than the one.