One of the most powerful things you can do to market your business is to prove that your products and services deliver. If it’s a product – does it work? If it’s a service – does it provide what people want?
So in a world where most of us are naturally dubious and are looking for a catch, social proof can play a big part in overcoming scepticism.
Testimonials need to overcome your target markets’ most common concerns. When prospects are considering your services they will have fears, barriers and objections to working with you.
The unasked questions that need to be answered will be along these lines:
- How will I know if it will work for me?
- What happens if it does not work?
- How long will it take?
- Why should I believe you?
People are fearful of making a mistake.
Testimonials provide, in a straightforward way, the social proof from your past and current clients who have bought your product or service, taken the risk and will share their experiences with your future clients.
What makes a credible testimonial?
I’m sure you have seen some pretty worthless testimonials.
Many are so fluffy and general that they are just not believable or credible. They often state how nice you are, how you make great coffee and nothing was too much trouble.
Although these testimonials are laudable they are not going to reassure prospects that your services deliver. They just don’t cut it.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, the eminent professor of marketing at Arizona University, highlighted the importance of social proof in influencing people’s behaviour in his book, The Psychology of Persuasion.
He concluded that people will do and are influenced by the things that they see other people are doing.
Credible testimonials need to be a mix of the following:
Worthwhile testimonials explain in specific terms the results achieved and the impact they have made to the client. For example:
Results, ideally in percentages
Our bottom line increased by 8.4%
Out staff retention rate has increased by 47%
Our cash flow has increased by a third
Since buying ABC we have reduced cost by 55%
This is far more compelling than if the testimonial simply stated our performance was increased.
‘Fluffy’ testimonials lead to mistrust. To make a testimonial totally credible you need to include specific client details:
Video testimonials add more credibility – not many business owners would agree to a fake video testimonial.
Include a comparison of the client’s situation.
Explain their problems and what they wanted to achieve. Highlight their milestones and achievements. Focus on how working with you made a difference and the impact it has made on the business
Without doubt the best time to ask for a testimonial is right after a successful outcome.
At this point they are still warm and predisposed to reciprocating your good work with a meaningful testimonial
If your service has a follow up/review/maintenance or ongoing element, ask for a testimonial.
Depending on your business, there could be multiple contacts in an organisation that have benefitted from your work.
Having testimonials to include in your marketing from different decision-makers in different roles and seniority can boost your credibility so collect testimonials from different contacts across your client’s organisation.
It is likely that you will have helped to resolve different problems for different people in the organisation.
Ask specific questions
Rather than asking for a testimonial and leaving the rest up to the client, develop smart and open questions that guide clients on what to write.
You want testimonials that give specific, valuable content that positions you as the right person to work with and that overcomes their hidden barriers.
Here is a selection of questions that could be used to get powerful client testimonials:
Questions to get specific results:
- What results have you achieved by working with me?
- What exactly were you looking to achieve?
- What was their business like before they began working with you and how is it better now?
- How have I helped you helped you to achieve [xx] results?
Questions to get additional benefits of working with you:
- What did you like most about the way we worked together?
- If someone else was thinking about working with me what would you say to them?
- How did you feel after our project together?
- What was it like to work with me?
- What did I do that especially surprised you?
Questions to overcome specific challenges and problems:
- What problems did they have before working with you?
- What business problem prompted them to contact you?
- Why was this problem in their business?
- What made them realise they needed help with this problem?
- What were the tangible benefits of working with you?
- Why did they choose you?
- Were they sceptical that you could help them?
- Before working with you, what other ways had they tried to overcome their problem?
A mix of these questions will give you meaningful, precise problem solving testimonials and lead to more conversions.
If you don’t collect testimonials you’re missing a trick. Your clients are your best sales team.
Take a look at how you use testimonials. Is it time to shake it up?
Apply these ideas and you will generate more leads into your business.