“92% of respondents reported that a positive recommendation from a friend, family member, or someone they trust is the biggest influence on whether they buy a product or service.”
—Paul M. Rand
Most customers like to see recommendations from their peers before making a purchase or signing a contract. When properly crafted and genuinely delivered, these endorsements can be extremely valuable; especially when they address an issue or opportunity that prospects care most about.
Of course, a testimonial can only be helpful if it’s properly displayed and effectively leveraged throughout the organization’s marketing and sales materials. Whether in a video recording to be posted on social media or just a simple quote in the organization’s marketing materials, testimonials are one of the best resources a business can generate. Of course, it all starts with a great plan.
In part one of this series, we focused on identifying the best prospects for your managed services testimonials and getting the right people involved in the process. That includes arranging interviews, scheduling support personnel (videographers and writers) and creating a few primer questions to guide the discussion. In the second part, our discussion switched to validating the testimonials and completing the recording or quote gathering processes. After those steps comes perhaps the most crucial part of the entire process; leveraging these recommendations throughout the organization to achieve the ultimate goal: increased sales.
First of all, does the recorded or documented testimonial reinforce a particular part of the company’s messaging? If so, it should be prominently highlighted in marketing materials and tied into specific customer benefits. For example, in a section that promotes its expertise, a company would typically add a few quotes that speak to those particular proficiencies. That lets the customers tell or reinforce your story, adding significant weight to the words that might otherwise not connect with prospective clients.
Most potential buyers want to hear more about their peers’ success with a product or service than they do your marketing message—which should be no surprise to anyone. People respect the word of other customers more than the company pitching its wares. So remember that point well when writing ad copy and creating sales materials, and spread it liberally across virtually every prospect and customer-facing part of your business, including:
- The company website: don’t just use their words; but add pictures and video when appropriate to create a greater personal connection. People trust people, so be sure to make the message personal and connect it with an appropriate feature/benefit. Feature testimonials prominently across many, if not all the pages of your website in short, digestible segments that logically fit in that section.
- Your marketing materials: testimonials should reinforce your messaging and help define the organization’s vertical market specializations and other unique attributes. Consider this example; “XYZ IT Services understands the needs of a busy doctors’ office. They helped us improve a variety of our internal processes and automating those procedures to speed patient care and meet all our compliance requirements.”
- Sales materials: include at least a general testimonial in every sales proposal. You can distribute them throughout the document to reinforce specific points, but be careful not to overdo it. A few key words of support in the right place can help validate a prospective client’s decision.
- Lunch and learn: this can be a great place to use longer testimonial videos (literally a short case study) or infuse several smaller quotes to support the discussion. Be sure to use the actual words of real customers even when speaking to those who are already clients. It can strengthen the relationship and remind them of why they continue to partner with your company.
- Email signature: many employees fail to properly utilize this valuable piece of sales/marketing real estate. By adding a brief customer reference after the name and contact information of each employee, it can help boost your company’s messaging and create a “personal” touch your clients may appreciate. Many businesses make it voluntary and suggest changing them out every few weeks to keep a fresh perspective.
Of course, this list isn’t all inclusive. Testimonials are a valued resource that should be leveraged as often as possible to boost your revenue opportunities as well as your reputation. And while the number of words they contain is never as important as the level of details and the passion they convey, it still requires a lot of planning and effort to build a viable portfolio. After all, if you can’t get honest, warm recommendations from your clients, it’s probably time to take a closer look at your business and customer service.