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Common Questions and Answers
Too often salespeople are hesitant to go back to a customer or client and ask for a testimonial of the product or service they bought. Actually they should hesitate, because by the time the sale is completed, they’ve already missed out on their best opportunities to get one. If you want to get a compelling customer testimonial that will enhance your company’s reputation and your future sales presentations, you need to position testimonials as a value-add during the sales cycle.
In my corporate communications work with companies of all sizes, I hear the same story repeatedly: the marketing department would love to get a testimonial, but the business development manager or salesperson who controls the relationship doesn’t want to “pester” the customer with requests that don’t have anything to do with additional sales. And repeatedly I would like to say, “Get over it.”
The number one thing a salesperson needs to get over is the idea that initiating the conversation for a testimonial is asking the customer for a favor or creating a nuisance. When you approach it as a benefit to the customer, it takes on a whole new value and differentiation, and can actually be an additional incentive for them to buy from you.
You need to know the marketing and media communications capabilities you or your organization has to produce and promote a testimonial. Even if you’re a small organization, you can compile a customer testimonial that’s a few sentences to a few paragraphs. For more complex sales, a one or two-page case study is possible. A brief two or three-minute video can also be very effective and enable visibility on websites and social media channels. If your company engages in media outreach, the testimonial can be targeted to publications in both your and the customer’s target audience. Whatever you can do, let the customer know you’re going to be proactive and creative with ways to use it
The single most effective way to get customers to agree to a testimonial that I’ve found in my experience is to offer them the opportunity to tell their story–the company’s goal, challenges they faced in meeting it, and how they overcame those challenges to achieve success. Make your customers’ point of view front and center, assure them it will be written to convey them in the most positive light, and you’ll be amazed at what and how much they’ll be willing to say. Also, be sure to let them know they will have final approval of the finished product. Don’t worry, your service or product won’t get short shrift, and the customer’s depth of detail will convey a relationship of trust between your two organizations.
Committing the resources to producing quality content without any expense on the customer’s part can be very enticing, particularly if your company can provide communications support to get it beyond your sales kit and into the media. The customer receives a no-cost, high-impact marketing piece that will impress both their customers and the higher-ups in their organization.
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