Testimonials Turn Your Claims Into Sales

You can tell your prospects all day long how great you are, but it sure goes a lot farther when someone else backs up your view of yourself. That’s where testimonials come into the picture.

Next to their own experience, people tend to rely on the experience of others. For this reason, testimonials are very powerful. Your prospects get to see that someone else, given the same circumstances, chose you and benefited.
Plus, there’s a strong implication that testimonials from real people are “true and unbiased,” whereas a salesperson’s claims are often perceived as neither. Remember that if you make a statement about your service or superiority, it’s a claim. If a customer who has used you says the same thing, it becomes a fact.

If you’ve got a happy customer, put it in writing, and you’ve got a testimonial.

Where Do Testimonials Come From?
The problem with testimonials is that many people say they’ll give them, but never find the time. They got busy. They meant to. They would, but it’s just that . . . oh, phooey. Don’t worry. There are easy ways you can help them find the time. In fact, you’ll do it for them.

Gathering testimonials is an ongoing process. Pay attention. Whenever something nice is said about your business, jot it down and ask permission to use it.

Have you gotten e-mail messages or letters from satisfied customers? Send a thank you note back requesting permission to use their comments in a testimonial.

Do you have a place on your invoice to write a comment? Make one and you’ll see testimonials flow back in with no cost or effort. This open channel of communication is appreciated either way.

To help get this praise into print, stick to a few ground rules:

Ask. When you know someone is pleased with your service, ask for a testimonial. And get it right away. Don’t wait until they’ve forgotten your name and what you did for them. Tell them, “That means a lot to hear you say that. Do you mind if we use your comment as a testimonial?”

Get permission. You will need to get permission from your customer to use his testimonial in any way, shape or form. Remember, this must be signed permission on specific wording of the testimonial.

Explain their use. This is a part of getting permission. Your customer needs to understand how these testimonials will be used. Don’t surprise him by sending him a customer postcard that uses his own quote. Don’t let him hear from a friend with no advance notice, “My salesperson showed me your testimonial.”

Use names. Testimonials need names to give credibility. You can’t use a home address, but you can use a first and last name, along with the city. Or a first initial and last name. Don’t just put “T.K.” or it looks completely bogus.

Be specific. “You’re great!” may be something you love to hear, but in a testimonial, it’s not nearly as effective as, “Your guys were on time and efficient. I couldn’t have asked for better service.” Better still is, “I was a little skeptical about your energy savings claim, but after I got my first utility bill, my jaw dropped. We saved $61.88 over the previous month! And we expect to get savings all year long. Thanks for your commitment, courtesy, and quality.” Make it conversational and real.

Make it a habit. While it’s possible a testimonial will magically appear in your mailbox, it’s not likely (unless you’ve put it on your invoice form as suggested). You have to be proactive about getting them, and the best way to be proactive is to make it a habit. Make it a part of your routine. Establish a system that includes this as a check off item at the end of a service or installation, such as “Testimonial Form completed?,” to help the technician remember (We put it on our actual Sales Proposal too!)

Listen to your customers. A lot of times testimonials come from listening. Listen for compliments, make a note of them and work with the customer to turn them into a testimonial. Also, watch for good e-mail messages. Did someone say “thanks” in a way that could become a testimonial?

Make it easy. Create a page of testimonials that your customers can check-off. They can change them, write anew, or simply check as is! And offer your customer incentives for their strong testimonials — maybe a discount on the service being provided or future discounts.

What to Do With All the Testimonials?
A great place is one or more pages in your Sales Presentation Binder to help prospects see that others may have shared similar concerns, lived in a similar house, or same neighborhood. Your closing ratio will increase using testimonials. Pages of testimonials are very powerful motivators.

You can also frame them and put on the walls in meeting rooms or where customers might see them. Excerpted ones in your brochures are fantastic, as well as strewn throughout your web page. We’ve also used them, in “trimmed down” form, as headlines, later using the name and situation in the ad. A series of these are fantastic in print or on radio.
A strong assemblage of testimonials will undoubtedly increase the credibility you deserve while settling unspoken fears, and increase your sales as a result. Use them and profit.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. CB Hotmail readers can get a free bi-weekly marketing newsletter by calling 800/489-9099, faxing the request on letterhead to 334/262-1115, or e-mailing [email protected]. Visit www.hudsonink.com for more free sales and marketing reports.

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