When someone visits your website, especially someone who is seriously considering your services, you want to do EVERYTHING you can to assure them they’re making a smart, informed decision.

 That’s where independent, social proof helps win the day.

A strong testimonial from someone who has benefitted from your services will go a long way towards instilling a feeling of confidence in your reader. 

Here’s why: testimonials help rationalize your prospect’s buying decision.

In fact, a rock-solid thumbs up from a satisfied customer can often be the tipping point that results in having a prospect sign on the dotted line. Or, as Alec Baldwin articulated in the movie Glengarry Glenross, ‘getting them to sign on the line that is dotted.’

Yet, surprisingly, many of the testimonials I see on websites are weak and diluted and virtually void of any meaningful selling power.

Blah blah like “Gerry showed up on time and he was really polite” ain’t gonna cut it. 

Your prospects want evidence that you can deliver RESULTS! 

Effective testimonials generally feature four characteristics:

1. They are specific. What do you do when you hear someone claim they’ll cut your heating costs by 50%? ZZZzzzzzzzzz. That’s right. You tune out because it’s the same old same old. But when you read a testimonial that says, ‘The ABC Time Planning System saved me 7.5 hours the first week I used it’, you start imagining what you could do with those 7 ½ hours. Specificity sells.

2. They focus on one benefit. By sticking to one benefit, the testimonial becomes more powerful. If you try to jam in too many benefits your message gets watered down. The way around this is to offer 4 or 5 testimonials – each focused on highlighting a different benefit your product or service delivers. Why? Because people “buy” for different reasons.

3. They must be believable. People know how people talk. If you write the testimonial (using customer supplied details, of course), keep the tone conversational. If you make it too formal, it will look contrived. And another thing. Use full names and addresses (and pictures) if you can. A company name will suffice. Without something to indicate to the prospect that the person actually exists, you’re way down on the believability scale. Funny thing. Most prospect will not contact the people who provided your testimonial. They figure if you’re willing to include a way the person COULD be contacted, then the testimonial is valid. 

4. They must be targeted to your audience. Make sure the testimonial is relevant and useful and doesn’t include anything that is potentially offensive to your intended audience.

Ok, so now you know the rules. How do you go about putting them to good use?

If you simply call and ask your customer for a testimonial, you’ll likely get something vague like, “The new duct cleaning system you installed works great.” Hmmmmm, not exactly the gold right?

Here’s what you do: Create a “customer feedback” questionnaire that will get the customer’s honest, unrehearsed answers regarding the value your service or product delivered. Then pick up the phone and give the customer a call. Your questions might go something like this:

Why did you purchase (name of product or service)? This question establishes the phone call as a genuine customer-feedback call.

What three things do you like most about (name of product or service)? Here, we force the customer to think specifically. You won’t always get three. Just be sure to write down everything they say. This is WHAT your customers are buying and should be prominent in all your headlines and sales copy.

In your opinion, what is the strongest feature of your (name of product or service)? Why? This question forces the customer to be more specific.

How has (name of your product or service) saved you time, money or frustration? This is exactly the information we’re looking for. The customer will tell us how the product is fast, easy to use and/or inexpensive.

Is there anything about your (name of product or service) you would like to see changed? This can be an eye-opener. Depending on what the customer says, it may provide valuable insight into ways to improve your product or service.

Now the last, but very important question.

May we use your comments for promotional purposes? This protects you from legal repercussions. Very few people will say no. Even if they agree verbally over the phone, it’s a good idea to send them a copy of the quote with a dated sign- off release.

Once you have the feedback, just cobble together the answers and you will have a meaningful testimonial.

By following the guidelines above, your testimonials will pack a punch and boost your credibility.

P.S. If you want, you can send your client an email using the questions above. Not quite as effective but will still get some useful feedback.

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