[Sales Strategies] Making the Most of Testimonials

Features - Customer Service & Relations

Taking advantage of customer testimonials is a relatively simple way to drive more sales and grow your business.

April 30, 2013
Bill Delaney

What’s more likely to spur a customer to do business with you: slick marketing copy or real words from a real, satisfied customer?

That was the question explored during a recent webinar hosted by Compelling Communications’ June Van Klaveren and Coleman Services’ Hal Coleman. The pair stressed the impact that customer testimonials can have, if executed correctly. “We believe that too many people don’t take advantage of testimonials,” Van Klaveren said, adding that testimonials can garner more customer referrals and help attract new customers.

“What someone else says about you is 1,000 times more powerful than what you say about yourself,” Coleman said.

Nuts and Bolts. A good testimonial has several essential elements, and does a few specific things to hook a customer. First, a testimonial offers social proof of your firm’s effectiveness, Coleman said, likening the kind of proof to a witness testimony at a criminal trial — it’s not scientific evidence, but if enough people confirm the same story, it can be taken for truth.

Testimonials also are key to building trust, Van Klaveren said. “You want your customers to trust you, new clients to trust you, and that’s one thing testimonials will do.” An effective testimonial also will build your credibility, offer new customers reassurance and substantiate your claims.

But in order for the testimonial to convey those points, it must contain a few key components — importantly, attached with the testimonial ought to be as much information about that person as possible. That includes their name, position, company and phone number. “The more information, the more credibility there is, the more believable (the testimonial) becomes,” Coleman said. “People will go, ‘Wow, it must be true, if they’re willing to put their contact info in there.’”

Coleman added that customer hesitation to provide such information has never been a problem for him, personally. “You only want to ask for those testimonials from people who are already thoroughly pleased with you,” he said.

Presentation & Content. How do you secure a testimonial? Van Klaveren and Coleman recommended listening to positive customer feedback with the mindset that such feedback could be used for a testimonial. If a customer tells you, for instance, that they had two other companies out that weren’t able to solve a pest problem, but your firm did it — that could be the basis for a new testimonial. “You can say, ‘Would you mind if I share that comment, in the form of a testimonial?’” Coleman said, and recommended writing down the customer’s quotes, and following up with the customer later to review his or her quotes.

Van Klaveren also advised that prompting customers with specific questions can lead to better testimonials. Some of these questions were:

  • What problem were you having that required the services of a professional?
  • Why did you choose to use the services of this particular company?
  • How did this business solve your problem?
  • What impressed you the most?
  • Who would you recommend this company to?

In terms of presenting this information, pest control company websites provide prime real estate for effective testimonials, Coleman and Van Klaveren said. Testimonials can be written or come in video form. The Internet provides plenty of channels to disseminate that information, as well, including by way of a company blog or through social media. Testimonials work through more traditional communication outlets as well, including advertising, direct mail, flyers, postcards and “leave behind” literature.

On a company website, Van Klaveren said one good strategy is to let several quality testimonials accumulate and then sprinkle them throughout the website. She advised not to put a date on the testimonials, so the information always seems timely.

Armed with this information, your company has what it takes for a great and helpful testimonial.

The author is associate editor with PCT magazine. He can be reached at bdelaney@giemedia.com.