In business, being successful at standing out in a crowd is a skill that comes more naturally to some than others. At the root of that skill is the ability to be memorable, so that your name or that of your company remains top-of-mind for your customers. The challenge is that people don’t all find the same kinds of messages appealing. As students of psychology will attest, our society consists of left-brain and right-brain thinkers. Author Doug Hall zeroed-in on the importance of this in his book, Meaningful Marketing, (Doug Hall, “Meaningful Marketing” 2003, pages 72-74.) citing a collection of studies, including research published in the Harvard Business Review, that found that while hard facts appeal most to left-brainers, enthusiastic, emotional-based messages connect more often with right-brainers.
So how can you as a salesperson best connect with a wide range of buyers who don’t always find the same messages meaningful? This is where testimonials really shine.
Not only can the power of word-of-mouth communicate important facts about you and how you can influence a customer’s bottom-line, it can do so in an engaging, personal way unrivalled by any other form of marketing. Human beings are social creatures and while we process information differently, we share a common hardwiring for being interested in the stories of others. When we hear good stories, ones that involve positive experiences, we want to see ourselves in that narrative. Testimonials are, in that sense, an invitation to prospective clients to join and become part of a conversation.
One of the many great things about testimonials is that they are easy to find and hassle-free to get working for you right away. All you need to do is listen and ask to obtain them, and then find ways to collect and share them so that others can read all the great things that people have to say about you. Let’s look at what that entails…
Keep your antenna up
The trick to finding testimonials is to always be listening for them. Pay careful attention to listen for feedback during business calls or in email conversations with clients. When someone mentions how your work, your services or your products have helped make a lasting difference, ask them: “can I quote you on that?” Make it easy for people to say yes by offering to write it down and to send it to them for approval. Doing so requires minimal effort on their part, and they get the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to spread the good word about you.
Keep the momentum steady
Salespeople everywhere can learn lessons about testimonial collecting by looking at the business habits of the legendary W. Clement Stone—a man who built a multi-billion dollar empire selling fire-insurance policies door-to-door…and did so during the Great Depression, no less! According to legend, Stone’s sales presentation at kitchen tables across America included reading aloud from a personal binder that was overflowing with testimonials from his customers. The stories were compelling because Stone’s testimonials were ones to which his audience could relate.
So remember: quantity matters as much as quality when it comes to word-of-mouth feedback. Don’t stop when you’ve collected your first dozen testimonials. Make it an ongoing part of your job as a top-performing salesperson to find new ones constantly. Think of what you’re doing as collecting tiny snapshots of the many conversations you have with the people you do business with. Collectively, the stories they tell become more and more compelling as number of testimonials you have to offer grows. Volume reinforces in the minds of readers that praise for your work is well-earned and is the product of being consistent over a wide range of projects, over a long period of time, and while working with a diverse group of customers.
Keep beeping your horn
Once you’re on your way to establishing an ever-growing collection of testimonials, turn your attention to where you can use them. My advice here is straightforward. Use them everywhere—beep your own horn and do so shamelessly. This is no time to be modest! Some of the best marketing material I have seen—including a lot great work by my own clients—has involved leveraging testimonials. I incorporate this in my own business as well. I include them in our sales letters, particularly in the P.S. portion (which professional copywriters will tell you get read by just about everyone). I also make sure they are featured in the subject line of outbound emails. Have a look at bestselling books at your local bookstore. There’s a good reason why so many of them include testimonials printed right on the cover, showing potential readers others are saying about a book. Opinions sell.
I’m personally quite fond of using testimonials on the Engage Selling website and I encourage my clients to do the same. Let me share with you what I explain to them: I get an amazing number of clicks from prospects who simply want to know more about what we do at Engage, prompted solely on what was said in a testimonial by one of our many satisfied clients. They don’t have to be all that long either. Short, punchy ones can really stand out. And we don’t restrict them to just one page online. After all, we have no control over where people enter our site. So we spread them out throughout the site for maximum exposure.
Lastly, be sure to include testimonials or referrals in your sales script. Make sure they’re placed right at the start of your sales call, so that the called party’s attention can be drawn immediately to the fact that you’re a known quantity in your business. Be as narrow as you can. If you’re calling a CFO, include a testimonial from an executive-level client. By doing so, you reinforce the idea that in the mind of the called party that you do business with people like them.
Testimonials are powerful motivators that help position you and your company as being memorable in the minds and hearts of your target audience. Not only do they help encourage potential customers to make the decision to buy from you, they also encourage customers to join in the conversation and share their own glowing testimonial about your work. So step on the gas and sell more in less time than ever before: get the power of testimonials working for you and your organization today!
Dedicated to increasing your sales,
PS for more articles on how to use Testimonials to ramp up sales please visit www.testimonialdirector.com