Every rep wants more customer testimonials. This form of social proof can drive more sales and lend credibility to the rep, as well as generate increased interest and awareness. But what are testimonials? How do they compare to reviews? And how can you encourage them? Alejandra Zilak recently shared her own insights, as well as eight tips for driving testimonials from your own satisfied clients.
1. Make sure you are mindful about timing.
2. Request it in writing.
3. Give examples.
4. Seek out existing content.
Customer Testimonials vs. Reviews
Customer testimonials are an endorsement that usually illustrate a challenge the customer faced that your service or product helped them overcome. So how do they differ from reviews? “What makes testimonials different from reviews is that they are provided by the customer directly to your company and offer significantly more details of their experience as they did business with you,” Zilak explains. “In addition, since they are managed by you, you can choose which ones to display on your website — as opposed to having no control over good or bad reviews left on third-party platforms.”
How Testimonials Can Help
Customer testimonials can offer so much value to a salesperson. They can:
- Humanize a brand. Including words from past and current customers adds a human element to what you’re selling. This is especially true if the prospect reading the testimonial has not interacted with you yet. These words will be their first impression. “With a testimonial, a potential customer gets to ‘see you’ in action before they risk any of their time or hard-earned cash,” Zilak writes. “A good testimonial focuses on the facts, but also has enough of an emotional element for prospects to imagine enjoying similar, just-as-desirable outcomes soon.”
- Show your longevity. Customer testimonials reveal your business to be one that’s been around and has been successful.
- Help prospects “get it.” This type of feedback demonstrates others’ ROI, can help you build a business case and spark a personal connection with prospects. Reading a customer testimonial may be what gives a prospect the push needed to reach out or agree to a meeting. As Zilak points out, “since testimonials can be viewed at the very top of the sales funnel, they do a lot of heavy lifting for your credibility early in a relationship.
Testimonial Tips to Remember
“The hardest thing about testimonials is collecting them and making sure they’re relevant, valuable, and authentic,” writes CustomerThink’s Syed Balkhi. [But] Asking for testimonials should be part of every B2B company’s customer success process. It proves that their opinion matters to you and that you care about their success, which leads to better and longer-lasting relationships with your customers.”
When asking for customer testimonials, Zilak recommends that reps keep some important things in mind.
Make sure you are mindful about timing. The best time to ask for a testimonial is when your product or service is fresh in their mind (rather than, say, a year after they purchase). She recommends asking during that very first follow-up call or email, a time when it’s customary to ask about satisfaction. You may not even need to do a formal request; if the prospect gushes over how happy they are, ask if you can use those words in a customer testimonial.
Request it in writing. If you do ask formally, asking via email could be helpful. It allows you to include instructions along with the ask, as well as having a record of their own words. Plus, you ensure that the prospect’s words are clearly understood since they are writing them. Be cautious though with following up. If you don’t get a response, Zilak suggests giving it a bit of time. “Following up repeatedly in a short period of time will only annoy them and won’t win you any points to gain repeat business in the future (plus, they’ll also tell everyone they know how annoying you turned out to be, which is worse than a bad review),” she explains.
Give examples. For some, this might be the first testimonial they’ve given. Or they may be intimidated by a “written assignment” and not sure how to start. Go ahead and share examples of testimonials to guide them. If you don’t have many examples, a template can also be helpful.
Seek out existing content. “Browse through Google and Yelp reviews, social media comments, blog comments on your website, and in emails from clients to look for good, detailed reviews that may serve as testimonials,” Zilak advises. Any positive words can be used for an effective customer testimonial. But, she adds, be sure to reach out to the poster to make sure it’s OK that you use their words for a testimonial.
Maximize Their Impact
Now that you have these testimonials, how can you maximize their effectiveness? Zilak recommends asking for the following from the client:
- Details, details, details. Make sure that their testimonial is as detailed as possible so it can really paint a picture of ROI for prospects. Not sure what to ask for? Check out this past SalesFuel blog post that outlines how to gain excellent feedback.
- A head shot or picture if they are comfortable.
Where You Should Put Them
It’s important that testimonials are easily available for reading. One vital place they should be is your website. Here are some suggestions of how to integrate them:
- Homepage. This is a perfect place to immediately establish interest and credibility. They can also set the tone for visitors, and there’s no rule where exactly they should go on the homepage; work with the placement your site allows.
- Service pages. “Including a testimonial from satisfied customers near the call-to-action buttons on your services page will be a lot more convincing than clever copy writing, since it’s the word of third parties who don’t have a financial stake in the sale,” Zilak writes.
- Landing pages. This is another ideal location for customer testimonials. As prospects head to this page for a sign-up or request, seeing a testimonial could be the nudge they need to follow through. Make sure, though, that the testimonial on this page is simple so it doesn’t distract from hitting the submit button.
Great customer testimonials don’t just help you earn trust and new business. They also help you gain confidence and show you just what you're doing well. So make sure that you are actively seeking them out and maximizing their impact.
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe