Getting Testimonials the Easy Way

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business (Henry Ford)

What is the best way to approach clients with testimonial requests?

My client, Joie, wanted to know how to take the stress out of asking for testimonials. Let’s look at a way to do just that.

It is easy to see asking for a testimonial as a self-serving process. That leads to anxiety and a lack of confidence. I wanted to help Joie see the process differently.

Making the connection

Please note that, by using my working relationship with Joie as an example of how to get a testimonial, I also gained a testimonial for myself.

Nothing like “Two birds with one stone” … right?

Well, let’s make that “Many birds with one stone” and let you look in on how this simple, yet powerful, system works.

Testimonials are incredibly effective sales tools, but getting them can be difficult

Joie received verbal praise for her work on two recent projects; she then wondered how to get permission to transform those spoken votes of confidence into text, so she could place them on her website.

As with sales in general, asking for testimonials can feel uncomfortable – ESPECIALLY when we make it all about us. There is no reason to do that, though.

A different way to proceed

I first described the basics of the process to Joie.

The steps to effective testimonial gathering are:

  • Thank the client for expressing his or her appreciation for your work. That feedback helps you make sure you are on track.
  • Enlist the client’s help with a cause. There are others who could benefit from your services, but prospects want proof that you can deliver. Assurances from a peer will always trump what a person or company says about themselves.
  • Suggest a simple means of proceeding. When you ask the client to send a testimonial, it puts the burden on the client. When you ask for a brief interview, all the client needs to do is talk with you for a few minutes.
  • Interview the client, using the template that follows.
  • Confirm industry, position, name, company, and where any links should point. There are times when your client may prefer (and that’s fine!) you to NOT cite a name and/or company. In that case, you can state the industry and position instead – maybe even the initials. The main thing is that your client feel absolutely comfortable with the idea.
  • Thank the client and once again confirm you have permission to use excerpts from the interview as testimonials in various media.

I then walked Joie through a sample interview. Following is a basic transcript of that discussion.

Debbie: Joie, people sometimes find it hard to acknowledge they are struggling with sales. You have made tremendous progress, and I know your experience can benefit others. May we talk a little about our work together?

Joie: Absolutely.

Debbie: Joie, regarding sales, where were you when we first started working together?

Joie: I was really struggling with sales in my business. People loved what I did, but I wasn’t getting enough clients.

Debbie: (Expanding the interview) Was there one area, in specific, you were struggling with? What was your biggest struggle?

Joie: I could have great conversations with people, but I wasn’t closing them. I could schedule the sales conversation, but I wasn’t getting many sign-ups.

Debbie: Once we started working together, what started to shift for you? Where was the biggest impact?

Joie: It was POSITIONING: The wording, how I talked, and every part of my presentation. You taught me to position myself as an expert … so that other people could see the value and expertise I have.

Debbie: How did that empower you? Where was the impact?

Joie: I gained a lot of self-confidence. I recognized my own value in a new way. By trying to make it clear to other people, I made it clear to myself! Because of that, I entered into conversations with a lot more confidence and self-assurance. People began responding to that.

Debbie: With what you have learned and its effect on your sales, how do you think that is going to impact your business in the future?

Joie: No doubt, I’ll continue to build much more business. I’ve also become clear on who I market to. I market much more specifically than I have in the past. Your coaching has already had impact, and it will continue to well into the future. I have hired many other coaches in the past, but nobody ever approached sales the way you do. It has totally shifted my relationship to the word ‘sales’ – I feel different – I’m changed by the process you walked me through, and that change has made me more powerful and more confident.

Debbie: Joie, there are many people who are still just like you were. They lack self-confidence and they are not getting nearly as much business as they could. If someone like that asked you about working with me, what would you say?

Joie: If you have the chance to work with Debbie, absolutely do it! Her coaching was the key to turning everything around in my business, and I highly recommend her and the approach she teaches. Debbie doesn’t concentrate on selling. She concentrates on creating value for people, and she certainly has created value for me. When you create value for people, they WANT to work with you.

Was that difficult?

That is what I asked Joie next … and, of course, she said “absolutely not.” Her recollections of our work together – and the successes she had experienced – served to solidify the results and further deepen our professional relationship.

By interviewing the person offering a testimonial, pulling out the pertinent data, and getting permission to publish it, you can secure a steady flow of powerful testimonials.

Here are the strategic questions to use during a testimonial interview

  • What was the client’s situation before working with you?
  • What happened after you began working with the client? What shifted?
  • What was the impact of that shift? How did it affect the client’s business?
  • What would you client say to someone considering working with you about that issue?

Thank you to executive coach extraordinaire, Joe Seldon, for allowing me to use this transcript as an example.

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