I’ve spoken and written about the value of testimonials before. Indeed they are so important that they merit further discussion. After all, we know that client testimonials can be one of the best ways to grab the attention of prospects in your marketing. They are truly social proof…giving you credibility and demonstrating your successful track record. Most importantly they reflect the feelings that your clients have when you have served them with success.
Getting earned testimonials and introductions is not just a challenge – it’s an opportunity to talk and listen to your current or past clients. Often when I pass on this advice to others, they will indicate that there are several clients whom they believe will give them a testimonial.
The mistake is made in how they attempt to get it (That is…if they attempt. It is often a project left on the back burner.). Don’t call your client and ask them to write a testimonial for you.
Step 1: List out your top six clients. These are people whose experience with you best represents the experience you offer and strive to give to every one of your clients.
Step 2: Call and schedule a visit over a cup of coffee. Be up front about your agenda – you are updating some of your marketing and are interested in adding their testimonial, as well as learning more about what you might do to improve your service, and how you may be of further service. To insure its authenticity, you would like them to tell you as specifically as possible in what they valued in your work.
Step 3: Engage in conversation: Two key questions to prompt the right response:
- “Tell me what your situation was like before our relationship, and how did that make you feel?”
- “That said, how did that compare with your situation after, and what were your feelings then?”
Take notes on their responses. Note key expressions of feelings as well as measurable outcomes. You are going to use these notes to write up the testimonial for them.
Step 4: Ask this question: “Given your happiness with what we have done, who else should we speak with? Who else may benefit just as you have?” This is perhaps when you may want to have a print out handy of their LinkedIn connections, and highlight a few contacts with whom you would welcome an introduction. You may also wish to have notes from their file where other people were mentioned, such as business associates, friends or family members.
Take it beyond the referral to an introduction: your client doesn’t just give you the name and number to call…the client makes the introductory call on your behalf. (This has also been successfully done via email.)
Step 5: When you arrive back at your office, write up just a few sentences that summarize, in their words, what they value. You write the testimonial – not them.
Step 6: You then send the written testimonial back to them via email, for their approval. Most of the time, they will sign off on it as is – or they will return it to you with a little embellishment and thus sounding even better.
Step 7: Use testimonials EVERYWHERE. Print materials, website, LinkedIn profile (in the form of recommendations). Does the client’s story merit a re-telling for others to learn, in the form of a case study or blog article? This use and re-use is what adds up to social proof of your credibility.
It must be authentic. The process has to start with the experience and feelings of the client. Measurable outcomes are important, but even more so is how those outcomes made your client feel.
If you are not hearing about their feelings, ask them: “How did that make you feel?”