Values in Testimonials

August 22, 2010

Q: In your experience, do prospective clients pay attention to testimonials? My company is a sales and service organization with both tangible and intangible offerings and we’ve only been in business slightly over 8 years. I’ve told my team they we need to solicit and post on our website comments from satisfied customers both current and past. Do you agree?

A: Remember that selling has a great deal to do with the competence perceived, but clients are buying the concept of confidence as well. A testimonial is one way to lower the perceived risk that the intangible and/or intangible services a client is about to buy are plausible, realistic and risk free (or at least "low risk"). When you ask a client for a testimonial, think more about what a risk-averse executive or manager needs to hear and request the testimonial address the risk issues they considered in buying from you.

There is value to planning your "testimonial portfolio." Consider the range of compelling reasons you would like to place before a prospect. Since each testimonial can't realistically present all of these reasons, work with your client to create a testimonial that fills the gaps.

Prospective clients are less impressed by a testimonial about a firm when it doesn't necessarily relate at all to the buyers proposed needs. If possible, collect testimonials from the individuals on the clients’ team rather than the firm in general.

First, consider the greatest value your clients have received. What have they said was the most important benefit you provided? Then build your testimonial around that. Consider including the following (in a sequence that works for you):

• The project issue or challenge (the preamble for why product or services were required)
• The intended outcome of the engagement (the value provided)
• The actual outcome (especially longer term, in unit terms of dollars, output, or other measure that might translate to a prospective client)
• The reason the client selected your firm (this is the key element to convincing the next client why they should select you, and should include why any reservations were quickly overcome by your performance)
• The core strength you brought to the project (what aspect of your firm's offering you want to highlight)
• The reason the client selected you above other consultants (here is the second most important aspect of the testimonial to induce your prospect to select you)

You should think about the points above when you are writing your marketing pieces or updating the presentation of your website. Use these concepts to make your company standout and demonstrate why “you” and not “another firm.”

Here is an interesting fact about August 2010; This August has 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays and 5 Tuesdays and all in this one month. It happens only once every 823 years. My suggestion is that we all enjoy THIS August 2010 just in case we not here for the next one.

As always, please accept my wishes for a tremendous week. Remember that your comments and/or questions are always welcome here. Call or write if I can ever be of any assistance to you or your organization.

George F. Mancuso, CPC