Selling a service or technical product can be like “selling the invisible”.
Clients can’t directly see what they’ll be getting. And that’s why just about every expertise-based business relies on some form of ‘proof’ that they can deliver what they offer.
Potential clients simply don’t know whether you can do what you say you’ll do. They want evidence.
Because of this – and survey results that show advertising is the least trusted form of promotion, and personal recommendations are the most trusted – client testimonials are among the most sought after weapons of influence for sellers to have in their arsenal.
How do you go about getting a client testimonial that is worded well enough that you can actually use it?
- Do you find it difficult to be bold and just ask for a testimonial?
- Do you lose contact with your clients after the job is done, and have trouble going back to ask for a testimonial?
When you ask for a testimonial you don’t want to appear pushy, do you? But you do want to get a relevant testimonial that explains how you helped your client achieve their goals.
So, what’s the secret?…
In coaching clients on their marketing tactics I have found they can be successful in getting great testimonials by using a simple question-based approach. I recommend you try it as well.
How to ask for a testimonial
Firstly, it can be helpful to prepare your client for the task of supplying a testimonial. Let them know in advance that you would like them to provide their feedback. Maybe you can mention it during the final stages of your work. Or simply contact them and ask if that would be OK. (Just about everyone will say yes, as long as they are happy with the work you have done.)
Once they are expecting you to contact them for a testimonial you can ask them to answer a few questions. At a minimum you should ask these three questions.
Tip: When asking for testimonials it is helpful to provide guidance for your client. By asking them to answer questions they can quickly focus on what to say.
The following three questions should provide answers that can be combined for a strong testimonial.
[Note – this is a guide, so insert your own words where needed or replace the text in brackets]
1. Why choose us/me?
Example question: Which factors encouraged you to choose us/me to help you with [the outcome your client wanted]?
Or: Why did you choose me/us for this project?
2. What was the impact?
Example question: Please explain the impact of the work I/we have done for you?
Or: Please explain how you believe the process I/we used [or, your service or, what you did for them] will help you achieve your goals [for your business, your health]?
3. Why would you recommend me/us?
Example question: If you were to recommend me/our services to a colleague, friend, or business associate, how would you describe the way I provided my service/s to you [or, the way I helped you achieved your goals].
When you have those answers they can often be placed together to form a complete testimonial, saying why they chose you, followed by how you helped them (the impact of what you did), followed by why they would recommend you.
The questions above are a minimum.
You may find it suitable to ask other questions that dig a bit deeper into the specific actions and outcomes you were involved with.
Examples of additional questions:
- When we first started working with you what was your ‘challenge’ that you wanted to achieve?
- How did you feel about signing up for (the service/project)? Did you have concerns/excitement?
- What was it that convinced/persuaded you to use our product/service?
- What were your goals that you wanted to achieve from the project?
- What did you experience as you progressed through the project (stages/sessions)? Were there any ah-hah moments or breakthroughs?
- What did you like best about (our service/project/process)?
- How would you describe the support offered by us (during the project)?
- What are the major outcomes for you? What have you achieved? Is that more/less (better/worse) than what you expected?
Your objective is to ask very direct yet open-ended questions that encourage your client to explain their thoughts and feelings. Ideally the questions should be posed in a chronological order, starting with the decision they made to engage with a provider, and finishing with the outcomes of the work you did for them.
Make it personal
When crafting your questions be sure to personalise each testimonial request. This means adjusting each question to be directly relevant for the person you are asking.
So, if you wanted to use the example from above:
“If you were to recommend me/our services to a colleague, friend, or business associate, how would you describe the way I provided my service/s to you [or, the way I helped you achieved your goals].”
… you would need to remove the / (backslash) options and instead just use the one word which is relevant for your client:
- either: me or us
- either: services or service
- either: the way I provided my service…, or the way I helped you achieve….
And you would want to remove irrelevant words, which may be ‘colleague’ or ‘business associate’ if you are working with your client on a purely personal/individual basis. And vice-versa, remove the word ‘friend’ if you have purely a business relationship with your client.
When to ask for a testimonial
Ideally, you should approach your client to ask these questions shortly after the satisfactory conclusion of your business with them.
If you have an ongoing engagement with that client, ask after a major milestone has been achieved. That way your client has something specific to focus on when answering your questions.
Once you have prepared your client to give their input, these questions can easily be asked via email. There is no need to ask them face-to-face. In fact, by asking via email you can more easily capture their specific words. And importantly it gives your client a chance to think about what they want to say.
Keep in mind what you are looking for is a ‘complete’ testimonial. If clients only use two or three words to answer each question then your testimonial will fall flat. Encourage them to provide details in their reply.
People don’t always respond to emails. Even your satisfied clients will get busy and may not prioritise your testimonial request. You must plan for follow up and to be proactive if your client doesn’t respond in a timely manner.
In some cases you may decide to write the testimonial yourself (using words you have heard from your client during discussions with them) and then send that to your client for approval.
Or, create a form on your website that contains the questions so you can send clients a link to the web page and they can fill in the answers there. This is a good follow up option if they have not responded to the first request.
Take time to prepare your questions so they are worded clearly. Then stand back and send your testimonial requests.
Once you have your testimonials place them on your website and in other marketing material.
Do you have other suggestions about how to get testimonials for your clients? Leave a comment to let me know.
Image credit: toasty treat