Using Client Testimonials to Attract New Business
You know your company is a winner, but how can you convey that message to prospects in an unbiased manner? Typically, potential clients want to know what your current customers have to say about their experiences with you, and since there’s no Yelp for the print and promo industry, testimonials can hold a lot of weight. Know how to ask and what to ask, and your business will reap the rewards. To help you maximize your potential, Linda Bishop, president of Thought Transformation, Atlanta; and Sarah Scudder, president of Procureit5, Dallas, share their best tips for obtaining testimonials.
Why They Matter
“We all buy from companies we trust,” Bishop said. “Testimonials offer proof of trustworthiness—they communicate in a direct, high-impact way exactly how you help people. Every company should collect testimonials, and use them when selling.”
Scudder agreed that quality testimonials can benefit companies across industries and pointed to Amazon as an example. “Amazon [has] reviews on its products, [and] these reviews often act as testimonials,” she said. “[Its] data proves that better and more reviews equate to higher sales.”
Of course, your company doesn’t have to be operating at the same level as a retail giant. Testimonials can act as an extra level of assurance for businesses at every stage of the growth cycle. “The two major benefits are [they] establish credibility and provide safety to the prospect knowing other businesses like theirs use your service,” Scudder said. “Companies don’t want to be the guinea pig. They want to work with proven suppliers that drive results, whether that’s increasing productivity, driving efficiency or reducing cost.”
Plus, in this current competitive landscape, you need to take advantage of every tool in your wheelhouse to edge out your competitors. “[Testimonials] are more important than ever before,” Scudder acknowledged. “You only have a short amount of time to grab prospects’ attention. Having strong testimonials makes you stand out as someone that they should at least consider. Testimonials may not win a deal, but they can get you to the final round.”
Whom To Ask
Reaching out to happy clients may seem like the obvious action to take, but there are a few other characteristics to look for that ensure a higher likelihood of quality feedback.
“I like to get testimonials from clients in the industries I’m targeting,” Scudder said. “If I’m trying to get more financial service clients, I’m going to ask my credit union, bank and wealth management clients for testimonials. I recommend asking clients at different stages in the relationship process.
“I like to ask a new client for a testimonial, and have them highlight how easy the setup and launch were,” she continued. “I’ll ask a mid-term client for a testimonial as to why they just renewed another three-year contract. I will ask a long-term client to highlight the length of our relationship, [our] ability to provide excellent ongoing support and why they have chosen to stick with us for the long haul versus moving to a new provider.”
Bishop recommended seeking out the clients who are exceptionally pleased with your services, and noted that those with a long history are more likely to put in the time to write you a glowing testimonial.
How To Ask
Sometimes, it can be difficult to ask for extra ice at Starbucks, let alone a personal statement on your behalf. But, if you approach them correctly, your customers will be more likely to participate. Bishop said to capitalize on face-to-face meetings, and ask clients in person soon after you’ve done an exceptional job. If an in-person meeting is unavailable to you, the phone is an acceptable communication method.
Scudder, on the other hand, shared that, for her, email has proven a great introductory outreach for testimonials. “[Email] allows you to have a record of your correspondence,” she said. “I suggest asking your client what problems you solved and the value you add. Then type the information in the form of a testimonial for him or her to review and edit. It’s important to make it as easy as possible for your client.”
Whichever method you choose should depend on the client in a case-by-case basis.
What To Ask
Like any type of marketing campaign, testimonials require a targeted plan of action. Ask broad questions or the wrong questions completely, and your efforts could be futile.
“Ask for specific examples of how your service or product solved a problem, increased efficiency, added value or reduced cost,” Scudder suggested. “Ask for stories—these are the best way to communicate and make the situation relatable to someone else. Don’t ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Ask for details, numbers and examples. Hard facts are wonderful.”
Specifics were the most important feature for Bishop, as well. If a client complimented a specific attribute of your business, that’s your chance to get it in writing.
Why Use Videos
Videos can add another exciting layer to your testimonials. Scudder recommended filming interviews that you can then play during a presentation. “If you are going after a large client, create at least two videos from well-known and respected clients in that industry,” she said. “If you can set up a situation where your client specifically addresses your prospect, that’s ideal.
“Open and close your presentation with a video. It’s powerful. Your competitors won’t, so it really makes you stand out.”
Where To Use Testimonials
Now that you’ve gotten your new, stellar testimonials, how can you use them to increase sales? Placement is everything, according to Scudder. “Highlight [testimonials] in a visible area on your mobile-friendly website, social account and marketing materials, use [them] in presentations and include [them] in proposals,” she said. “I recommend using client logos on the home page, and incorporat[ing] testimonials in case studies that are easy to access.”
Bishop proposed a few more ideas for leveraging testimonials. “You can include them in new business development emails and letters, mention them on the phone when cold calling, place them on your social media pages and include them with proposals,” she said.