“It’s not that your customers don’t believe what you say. It’s just that they believe other people first, then they believe you”
Sound familiar? Well, if you collect quality testimonials from your satisfied customers, then you’ll understand first hand, just how powerful an endorsement from your existing customers can be, in the face of selling to new customers.
We have known how powerful testimonials can be for many years and those who make a real effort to collect quality testimonials are testament to their power, in terms of increased sales.
But I fear that most testimonials are never actually used when talking to prospects. And whilst this is their most powerful use, they can also be so much more than just marketing collateral.
How best to use testimonials
First point I would like to make, is how VITAL it is that you collect, or at least attempt to collect, testimonials from EVERY satisfied customer. And if, when you ask for testimonials, your customers don’t seem forthcoming, then I suggest you ask yourself two questions:
- Am I asking in the right way, and making it as easy as possible for my customers to provide testimonials?
- Am I doing a good enough job with my sales, support, customer service, product or service, to warrant receiving quality testimonials?
If your answer to question two is anything other than a resounding yes, then you really need to start here. You want feedback from your customers, but if that feedback is negative, you have much work to do. If this is the case, stop reading right now and go address the elephant in the room!
If your answer to question one is anything other than a resounding yes, then I suggest you put together a process and template for this very important part of your sales process. You need to be planting the seeds of testimonials with your prospects, early in the sales process, so they know this is likely to be coming later down the road. Surprises are only well received when they are not surprising!
Then, once you are confident that you have done an absolutely first class, triple A standard job for your customer, you need to ask for a testimonial. And the easiest way to do this is to provide some questions your customers can answer, which form the backbone of the testimonial.
Some customers will, of course, be happy to write out a full testimonial without any help. But as we know, our prospects are crazy busy and won’t see your testimonial as their priority. So, to make it as easy as possible, create three, simple questions your customers can answer, which will then create the testimonial you are after.
The questions should address the quality of the product or service, the quality of the overall experience of buying from you and ideally, the result they have (or anticipate having) from using your product or service.
Once they have written this out, ensure they are happy for you to use this for marketing purposes and then hand the final copy to marketing, for them to do their stuff!
If you are lucky and receive a long, glowing testimonial, you can split this up into smaller ‘sound bites’ for different purposes. All that I would recommend here, is that you take smaller sections exactly as they are. Do not splice them together, take words or phrases out of context or generally do something which alters the meaning of the testimonial. Remember, tricks here gain you little more than short term advantage, outweighed by long term reputational damage.
Once marketing have used these testimonials in their collateral, that is often where the magic of these success stories end. But they have so much more to give, so why stop there? Here are some ideas for how you can spread the love throughout the organisation.
Sales professionals do what they do because they believe in the power of the product or service they sell. And what better way to foster this passion, than through the sharing of success stories with the sales team.
Imagine how powerful your sales team will be, when armed with story after story of how existing customers have gained X, Y or Z result, directly by using your product or service? We all want to feel that what we do makes a real difference, and hearing about the transformational success your product or service is having on your customers, day in and day out, will be more motivational to your sales team than any pep talk a sales manager could muster. So, use testimonials to motivate your sales team as often as possible.
But as we know, an organisation is bigger than just a sales team. There are legions of back office staff within an organisation, that never get to meet customers and find out what a positive impact the company product or service is having. And again, we all need to feel part of something bigger than just ourselves, so use success stories to share with the entire organisation. That way, there is a greater sense of team work, of that fact that every small job within the organisation has had a hand in this customers success in some way and this all helps creates a culture of working hard to produce something good in the world.
In some cases, the feedback could be so glowing, or the customer is such an influential customer to win, that their reference could be turned into a case study. Case studies take the concept of a testimonial and grows it into more of a story, starting from the pain point, moving through the solution and ending with the benefits the customer is now enjoying. Case studies are entire seams of gold, not just nuggets – so well worth the additional time needed to create them.
In summary, testimonials are little nuggets of gold in the business world, not just for using with your customers, but for your marketing, for the motivation of the sales team and also, motivation of the entire organisation. For me, just one of these reasons is compelling enough to collect testimonials but with all of these reasons combined, the power of these short stories punch far above their weight.