Ethical Bribes?

We recently spoke with a client who was frustrated by how difficult it was to get testimonials from their client. When we began to explore what was going on, we discovered that he was sending out a single email asking for a testimonial and then, when the responses were few, got frustrated and gave up.

I try to always remember that our customers are very, very busy. They have lots going on at work and at home and getting them to take time out to do anything is a challenge. Unfortunately, some interpret this as meaning that customers either didn’t have a positive experience or that they are unwilling to share that experience.

This is not so. The reality is that customers are more likely to proactively share negative experiences. Think about all the times you’ve provided feedback to anyone from whom you purchased a product or service; on the balance, was the feedback positive or negative. Complaints tend to be more common as typically, we’re looking for some recourse or remedy whereas positive feedback doesn’t have an immediate tangible reward (although it should as you’ll read). When it comes to positive feedback, there is much less “in it for them”…

This means that there are three important consequences to trying to collect testimonials from these super busy customers:

1. Location Counts

The old expression a bird in the hand… is directly applicable to how you get testimonials. If you have direct physical contact with your customers, then you have the best opportunity to get feedback. It is substantially easier to get a customer to fill out a feedback form or talk about their experience on video if you ask them when they are standing right in front of you.

We’ve experienced this first hand. We hold sales training events twice a year as part of the Engage Selling part of the business. We always have a video camera ready at these events as we find we can easily get at least 20% of attendees to give us a video testimonial right there. We didn’t use to do that. Instead we would send surveys out via email after the events and solicit feedback. The response rate to those emails were much, much lower.

If you don’t get the chance to see your customers in person, don’t fret – take advantage of the two strategies below.

2. Try and Try Again

If you’ve done email marketing, you know that multiple touches increase conversion rates significantly. That is, sending repeated messages with a call to action dramatically increases how many take that action. The same applies to testimonial requests.

We treat testimonial requests like a marketing program with multiple email requests. Again, satisfied customers typically have no issue in providing their positive feedback – but they will do so when its convenient for them. So multiple requests spaced out with a week or so between them increases the likelihood that one of these will land when its convenient and/or serve as a reminder.

For our top clients, our office manager, Casey, will call and specifically ask for feedback – taking it over the phone, drafting the testimonial using what they said and sending it back for their review.

3. Use a Bribe

One of the most effective ways to increase the conversion rate of testimonial requests is to provide an incentive. This is not to solicit disingenuous feedback but instead to help the customer prioritize their time to provide a testimonial.

Make sure you do something that personally rewards the customer. This is more effective than offering them a business reward such as a discount on future purchases or a free information product. We use which allows us to easily send out a Starbucks or Amazon gift card (or many, many others…).

Remember that investing in a testimonial is a good business decision. As I discussed in the recent article The Trust Return on Investment your prospects will trust feedback from other customers more than twice as much as, for example, an online advertisement. So spending a bit of money on testimonials can deliver a substantial return and often is a better investment than advertising.

So don’t be frustrated if you send out a single request for testimonial and you don’t get much of a response. Remember that testimonials are the single most trusted source of information your prospects use when making a buying decision. It’s worth the investment in time and effort to get them.

3 responses to “Ethical Bribes?

  1. Tweets that mention Sell More, Work Less and Make More Money by Colleen Francis » Blog Archive » Ethical Bribes? -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colleen Francis and moneyhours, Santi Chacon. Santi Chacon said: Ethical Bribes?: We recently spoke with a client who was frustrated by how difficult it was to get testi… […]

  2. Colleen

    Great advice! I know that getting testimonials is gold. I’ve had lots of luck with video. Your ideas for on phone reviews is great.

    I’m off to start calling.

  3. Hi Colleen,

    Thanks for sharing these great tips!

    Tricycle Telemarketing _ Leadgeneration

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