Testimonials can be an effective credibility enhancer for individuals, solopreneurs and businesses. If you’re not already continually seeking new testimonials, you need to make it a habit to better support your sales efforts.

Why you need testimonials

If they are genuine and truthful, testimonials can be an amazing way to build credibility and trust with your prospects. Testimonials from your existing customers give your prospects a sense of what to expect – from the results your product delivers, to how you treat your customers. If a prospect has any reservations, a testimonial (or even better – LOTS of testimonials) can play a role in putting their mind at ease, which is a critical to moving them closer to the sale. Clearly a testimonial from a well-known industry expert will pack an even more powerful punch.

How to get testimonials

Few businesses are lucky enough to have testimonials fall into their lap. For most businesses, it takes some work, a lot of work actually, to get testimonials, but the effort will be an excellent investment of your time.

When you ask customers for a testimonial, you want to make sure you don’t ask too much of them. When deciding who to ask for a testimonial, you can either take the shotgun approach and ask all of your customers, or you can take a targeted approach.

The risk of the shotgun approach is that it could make your organization appear self-centered. For example, if a customer recently had an issue which is yet to be resolved, receiving a request for a testimonial would frustrate them. Who knows, maybe they’d be ready in the future, but clearly not at that moment. Instead, take a targeted approach when asking for testimonials, and look for ‘slam dunks’. Create a list of customers to ask first who you’d consider to be raving fans of what you do.

A few different sources for testimonials could be surveys, phone interviews, asking customers for feedback in an email newsletter, or in person. Following up with customers who have recently purchased your product could be both an opportunity to see if they were satisfied, and if so, ask them for a testimonial.

What makes a great testimonial

A great testimonial states why the customer liked it and the outcome it produced for them. If your customer can use specific numbers, that make the testimonial sound better. Which sounds better – “… revenue went up as a result of using product X” or “… revenue grew 34%”. The more specific your customer can be about the result they achieved, the more believable the testimonial will be.

Only use testimonials which were genuinely created by your customer. If a prospect thinks your testimonials aren’t authentic, you’ll lose all credibility and trust.

Ideally testimonials should include the person’s first and last name. You can use their first name and last initial if your customer isn’t comfortable including their last name with the testimonial.

If your business sells to other businesses, you could also include the company name if you feel it’s worth noting and would help build your credibility.

A photograph can also be a good thing to add to a testimonial, but isn’t essential. Even if your customer doesn’t want to provide a photograph, that’s fine too.

For some product types, it’s becoming more common to see video testimonials. If your customer is comfortable on camera and doesn’t mind recording a short video testimonial, this could be valuable on your web site. Once you have several video testimonials they can also be stitched together as a part of a future sales video, or the content could be transcribed and the text used on other parts of your site.

After you receive a testimonial

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. If someone has taken the time to write or record a testimonial, show them your heartfelt gratitude. At the very least follow up with an email or phone call expressing your thanks. Even better would be to give them a gift or share something of value with them which you can offer. If your customer would benefit from exposure to your other customers and prospects, you could also provide a link to their web site from the testimonial.

If you start to look at your customers as partners, and look at how you can help each other, you can’t go wrong. Always look to create a win-win situation.

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