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IT services providers who complain about the value of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook may simply not understand the value of networking. Some just can’t find a way to separate their business from their personal relationships, so they rarely engage in meaningful discussions or add much content to their profiles. Others just don’t recognize the opportunity or how to efficiently employ social media to grow their own business opportunities.

All those concerns and issues can be easily overcome with a little time and the right mentoring. Of course, the lack of interest or expertise with using these tools is often a sign of a much deeper marketing and organizational challenge: modesty. What most business owners fail to realize is there’s a big difference between shameful self-promotion and telling customers and prospects more about your business. When you do something particularly well and one or more organizations profit from it, the world (especially those companies in your target market) needs to know.

That’s where client testimonials come in. When properly employed and leveraged, they can remove the air of self-promotion while emphasizing a key reason (or multiple reasons) that other businesses should be utilizing your services or purchasing your products. Testimonials are the “tips” received for a job well done and IT firms that use them effectively tend to see their sales increase exponentially. As most business owners know, just getting a solid client recommendation takes some work, but incorporating it into a much more comprehensive marketing and sales campaign can be a major endeavor.

Break it Down, Ramp it Up            

So how can a busy MSP get the most “traction” from his (or her) customer testimonials?

  • First off, you have to identify your best client candidates. If their overall customer satisfaction isn’t high, your chances of getting a solid recommendation will be significantly diminished. While there may still be net supporters in those organizations, their support should be used to solidify internal relationships and improve the chances of renewal. Those individual devotees can make great referral partners, but if their employer defects and signs with another IT services company their value can drop significantly. It’s hard to take someone’s word as fact when they’re using a competitor’s services (even if it is mandated by their employer).
  • After narrowing the list to true supporters, you have to figure out the types of referrals each customer can help with. Can they discuss a vertical specialization, the responsiveness of your help desk or support services in general? Are they willing to share specific details relating to you performance (and theirs) or are they more comfortable speaking to your strengths alone?

Start by creating a chart of your company’s key selling points and determine which clients could be your strongest advocates for that specific practice. Just realize that those generously willing to help, even if top clients, may not have the communication skills needed to give a great video or webinar testimonial.

  • Now the tough part; soliciting testimonials and referral partners. Those who freely offer kind words and indicate a willingness to help grow your business can be difficult to track down when you try to follow up. Others continually put off responses or delay the recording schedule. The most uncomfortable part can be asking someone for a testimonial when they haven’t offered one first. Whether fearing rejection or simply not wanting to trouble a respected client, MSPs should be looking for solid testimonials as aggressively as they search for new prospects. It should be part of the everyday conversation. Whenever a client says your service has helped boost their sales or improved their operations, be sure to ask if they would be willing to share their success with others.

Quarterly business reviews often generate a wealth of testimonial ideas and successful MSPs should be able to elicit numerous success stories during those discussions. Just be sure to ask for their recommendation and, if possible, get an immediate quote you can use.

  • Persistence is a key virtue when gathering recommendations and creating testimonials. The best advice is to lock in dates and, whenever possible, ask if you can record audio or video segments in their offices. It looks less staged than a professional studio and typically speeds up the process.

What’s the special sauce that makes good testimonial prospects even better advocates? Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll cover the best practices used to build great recommendations, as well as several methods to effectively leverage endorsements in your MSP business.