As the Sales Leader, I speak often about the importance of having testimonials and social proof in a thriving business. In fact, I feel so strongly about them, I devoted an entire chapter to that topic in my most recent book, Non-Stop Sales Boom.
Clients believe clients first and you second. Testimonials are how you leverage that social proof and put it to work for you and your team as the biggest source of influence in your sales cycle.
Today, smart businesses and sales leaders are discovering new ways to harness that power. That’s why I’d like to share with you my best new thinking on testimonials. In particular, let’s talk about how to make them work better internally first so they can have maximum influence externally on your capacity to grow as a business.
The proof machine: not just for prospects
People do their best work when they see tangible results for their efforts. When you make testimonial collection an integral part of your sales process, you’re creating a proof machine: one that has the capacity to do more than just attract new business.
It motivates and inspires your team, too. But only if you share those success stories internally.
I have a client in the manufacturing sector who created a booklet highlighting customer success stories. They circulated it to every employee inside the company. First result: morale soared. People saw the impact of their work in the marketplace. Thus, they had deeper pride in the work they did, which resulted in a better quality of work, a more positive interaction with customers and a more positive culture at work. Not surprisingly, productivity and sales skyrocketed very quickly!
Interesting little stories help tell bigger stories
Another important trend I see among sales leaders: integrating client testimonials into sales call scripts and other marketing where there’s a need for a compelling opening line. Same goes for social media content: retweeting a single sentence of praise from a successful customer has value that no amount of advertising can touch. In doing so, you’re highlighting a business problem that your prospect struggles with and convinces them through social proof that you have the know-how to solve that problem.
See how that works? Your testimonial is a story that proves through the words of others that what you say about yourself is true. You earn someone’s attention so you can then tell the much bigger story of who you are, what you do and what can offer. Internally, this gives your team that extra tools they need so they can do their very best work with confidence and conviction.
“And then, the unexpected happened…”
The best kinds of stories hold our attention because they contain an element of surprise. Testimonials are no exception.
Here’s a great example of how that can work for you and your team.
During a national sales kick off, a national financial institution client of mine had a customer panel present opinions on how they liked to do business with the bank. And then the unexpected happened. Their most important customer said to them: “You don’t come around and see us enough. You’re valuable, we need to see you monthly at very least!”
This shocked the 350-person sales team into dead silence! Until then, they’d worried that their customer outreach activities were too frequent. Instead, the opposite was true. The proof was in the direct, positive feedback from their ideal customer. This prompted major changes in their follow-up call schedule and marketing strategy. Just as important, it put wind in the sails of the marketing team: giving renewed confidence in the value of what they were bringing to the marketplace. Call volumes jumped. So did sales.
Used in public speaking and presentations
Here’s what else I’m seeing in the marketplace regarding testimonials when leveraged as an internal tool to generate sales growth: they are the perfect vehicle to integrate into speaking opportunities. In fact, this is something I do regularly in my own work. But let me also share with you one more example from the many experiences of my clients.
Recently, a client of mine presented a joint case study at an association tradeshow. They could have just talked about their experience on their own. Instead, they made the choice to reach out to that customer and invited them to share the stage and talk about how the product they bought made such a difference in their work.
By enlisting the support of your customer this way, the market sees the practical application of your service and product. Just as important: you build a tighter connection between your team and their team, because you’re now telling a story that is as much theirs as it is yours.
You can’t overuse testimonials. People are hardwired to listen to stories and they respond best when they can see themselves in the experiences of others. That matters just as much to your internal team. They will benefit from the enormous morale-boosting, work-affirming power of the testimonial and proof machine. So make sure yours is working overtime—day after day, week after week—to ensure you’re achieving the growth your deserve in your business.