vAllow me to lift the curtain and give you a behind-the-scenes look at the world of book writing.
You know those endorsements by celebrities, other authors and industry experts that appear at the beginning of a book and on the back cover? They are rarely written by the actual endorser. Instead, they are often written by the authors themselves or someone who works at a publishing company.
Here’s how it works:
You write a book. You feel good about it. You understand that readers will be more apt to buy your book if respected people have endorsed it. You make a list of industry experts and other authors who have written similar books. You contact those respected people and ask them to write an endorsement or testimonial for your book. If those potential endorsers know you or have heard of you, they’ll likely say “yes.”
But there’s a problem. The endorsers are busy, which leads to a couple of scenarios: 1. They intend to read the book and write an endorsement but they never get around to it; or 2. They ask you to draft the endorsement language and send it to them for their approval.
Scenario #2 is quite common, so authors write up a proposed endorsement and email it to the big-named endorser. If that person is comfortable with the wording, he or she will approve it, and presto! the book has an impressive endorsement.
The same thing happens every day in your industry.
As a sales professional, you need testimonials from past and current clients attesting to your outstanding service and product value.
A long list of client testimonials makes it easier to get new business. In an era of social media reviews, clients expect would-be vendors to have proof that they provide great service and high-quality products. One of the ways you show that is by providing glowing testimonials from highly satisfied clients. Strong testimonials make you a safe choice.
But be prepared; you might have to do much of the work yourself. Just like the book-promotion world, your happy clients would love to write a testimonial for you, but they’re stressed out and short on time.
What makes a good testimonial?
Make it specific to you, your product and your company.
It should be obvious who the testimonial writer is and why he or she is relevant to your business.
The testimonial clearly states what problem you solved and what unique value you brought. It should show that you deliver on promises, go above and beyond and get results for your clients!
It should not be fluffy or overly wordy.
Testimonials are particularly powerful when they show how you made someone money, made someone look good in front of other people, made someone’s life easier or reduced someone’s stress.
If you have ever helped a client overcome adversity, include that in the testimonial.
Testimonials should put the reader in the testimonial writer’s shoes. Readers should imagine themselves benefiting from your products and services just like the testimonial writer did.
Make it positive but not obnoxiously gushing.
How do you get testimonials?
Be prepared to write it yourself and ask if they would be willing to attach their name to it. Don’t offer this right away, because some people take pride in writing their own testimonials.
If they do want to write it themselves, stand ready to coach and guide them. Let them know what purpose the testimonial has in your sales efforts and what messages would be particularly effective for you.
Plant a seed and make it easy. Remind them of how you served them. It’s okay to ask them to highlight certain things.
Think of interesting stories you have experienced with the client and suggest they highlight one of those stories as part of the testimonial.
Ask existing or past clients a few questions about your products and services. If the answers are positive, you could say, “You know, it would be so helpful if my prospective customers could hear what you said. Would you consider writing a short testimonial for me that I could use in my future sales efforts?”
Send clients a written survey. Some of the responses could be fodder for a strong testimonial. Of course, get their permission before you publicly quote them.
Don’t be bashful! If you are confident you made the client happy, ask them to be bold and positive.
Give in order to receive. Write an unsolicited testimonial for your client and then ask them to do the same for you.
In many cases, one competitor beats another because he or she has better testimonials. I have personally witnessed it.
Gather those testimonials!
Make sure they are well written and clearly show how you provide differentiated value. Then, put them into your prospects’ hands. Publish them on your website and social media platforms and hand them out as leave-behinds during sales presentations.
Clients want social proof. Powerful testimonials get the job done.