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Martin Wales

[September 4, 2001]

Customer Catcher™

By Martin Wales

Win More Business With Customer Testimonials
How To Get More Of Them And Use Them To Increase Sales

How many more deals would you close if you used client testimonials more often? Before you can use them, you have to get those glowing testimonials about you and your business to show to your prospects. Then you can turn them into profits by using them more effectively to attract new customers. Read on for several ways to apply this influential and under-utilized tactic.

What Is A Testimonial?
A testimonial is a positive statement about your product or service. It's a description of a great benefit or advantage your clients experience as a result of working with you. It's a compliment on your knowledge or skills. Regardless of their form, testimonials are the most powerful sales and marketing tools. Why? Because what they really are is referrals from satisfied customers.

Different Types Of Testimonials
There are many variations of testimonials. Many companies fail to realize the marketing capital they'd possess if they gathered testimonials in all forms. Testimonials vary in how they are captured and then re-presented. They can be any of the following:

  • Quote: These are the one or two sentences, in quotation marks, that are attributed to a customer and placed in your marketing.
  • Appreciation letter: This a letter on your client's company letterhead that thanks you for a job well done, or praises your technology.
  • Reference letter: This is differentiated from an appreciation letter in that it is a concrete referral of you or your company, i.e. "I would recommend you to anyone seeking…"
  • Case study: This is your documentation of the process with a client that you assisted, possibly with the complete story from end to end. This reveals your methodology beyond a product or service and demonstrates your ability to solve a prospect's problem.
  • Verbal introduction: This is seldom used but is practical and affordable. You want to have an associate introduce you to one or more of their contacts via phone or in person at a networking event. They start off with their own personal testimonial about you.
  • Speaker introduction: If you have the opportunity to address a group then have the person introducing you act as a testimonial to your expertise and experience. It is imperative that you write a brief 2-3-sentence introduction for them. The person introducing you is usually the leader of a group and a trusted center of influence within the organization or association to whom you are speaking.

How To Get Testimonials
You can get testimonials without much more effort than you are expending now. All it takes is some intent and a little planning so you remember to be on the look out for these opportunities, and capture them when they happen. It is a simple two-step process:

  1. Ask: If you perceive that your customer is at the peak of client satisfaction upon completion of a project or product delivery, ask for a testimonial of some sort.
  2. Capture: This is the weakest link in gathering clients' positive comments. You must write down spontaneously spoken statements and ask the person if you can quote them. Ask for their business card and write the quotation on the back immediately.

Different Ways To Capture Testimonials
You have several methods at your disposal. You have to take advantage of:

  • Documentation: Make it your responsibility and not the client's. Do a post-sales interview with a set list of questions. Ask them if you may choose a few comments from what they've said and put them in a letter. E-mail it to them and have it printed out on their letterhead. This way, all they have to do is sign it (with any desired edits) and return it. You might also get snippets from feedback forms after a presentation or seminar.
  • Photography: Take pictures of happy clients shaking your hand in front of their office buildings. You can place a quote from the owner or executives in the caption for your photo. The Internet is graphically based, so put some snapshots of these visual testimonials on your site.
  • Audio: Whenever you speak publicly, or even in a sales presentation, consider using a microphone and recorder. Digital is the best and allows you to create sound bytes for your Web site. You might also think of creating a whole audiotape to present your best case study interviews.
  • Video: This media gives you a visual and audio presentation of your happy customers. It can include your clients' corporate logos (recognized brands are great) and names with titles as subtitles that are favorable to your company and products.

How To Use Testimonials
Once you have a collection of testimonials, you want maximum leverage from them to win new customers. It's a shame to walk through a business where all they can do is point to their "Wall of Fame" with two to ten-year old testimonial letters on faded, sun-bleached papers. Respect the power of testimonials and use them more appropriately in any, or all, of the ways listed below.

  • Web site: Place one or two per Web page related to the topic covered on each of those Web pages.
  • E-mail signature: Instead of a standard e-mail signature, put a short quote from a client that raves about your company, with a link to your Web site following it. Change them monthly to continually market to regular correspondents.
  • E-zine or newsletters: Have a testimonial section, or case studies with customer quotes.
  • Brochure: Don't just talk about your technology. List several testimonials in your brochure that let your customers sell for you. Let them reveal how great you are and how much they recommend you to the readers.
  • Business Card: If you put something on the back of your business cards, then why not place a couple of positive comments there that quote your clients.
  • Proposals: Proposals are really marketing documents, not just a quote for a sale. You might add a page of testimonials, preferably from the same industry or similar businesses. They get to decision makers, even if you can't in person. It also reconfirms with your prospects that they are making a good decision to go with you.
  • Direct marketing materials: Add testimonials to all direct marketing, such as postcards, sales letters, and audio tapes.
  • Computer telephony: You can use recorded voices to present your testimonials. It can be done via your message-on-hold, by voice mail messages in the form of a referral call by an associate to your prospect, or simply as an automated message line with several customers' recorded comments.
  • Articles: When you have the chance to write an article or have one done for you, then you have to quote your clients. If a writer or journalist calls you, you should suggest they call clients for input (this must be predetermined with permission from the customer).

Testimonials are very powerful marketing tools. Prospects become your customers more frequently when they hear compliments from your existing clients. Don't you feel more comfortable when you know that others love what you want to buy? Think about how you can apply this to your sales and marketing.

Martin Wales, the Customer Catcher, is a business development specialist helping companies win and keep more business with a focus on CRM. He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator focused on maximum results with minimum risk using a company's existing resources. Contact him at martin@customercatcher.com.

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