“What others say about you is 1,000 times more believable than what you say”
Testimonials are tiny nuggets of gold for any business. Merely having them provides instant credibility and “social proof” that you can be trusted. They can even serve as”the final nail in the coffin” and close the sale for you… IF you know how to use them.
Now if want to discover how to collect, sharpen, and wield testimonials so they strike at the heart of your prospects…
Filling them with an unwavering belief that you are the “go-to” person to solve their problem…
Then check out the “quick-and-dirty” guide to testimonials below… and turn your happy clients into a relentless sales force that does all the heavy-lifting for you.
How to Get Testimonials that Sizzle
Ask your customer for a testimonial and you’ll likely wind up with something along the lines of:
“(Your name) is great! I love him! Can’t recommend him enough! You should hire him right away!!!”
Now that enthusiasm is great and all, but a testimonial like that won’t convince a skeptical prospect to buy from you.
If you want your client to give you a testimonial that will connect with your prospects and drive the sale home, you’ll have to do two things:
First, you’ll want to prompt your client. Guide her into giving you the specific information you need to tell her story and back-up your sales points.
How can you do that? Here are four questions you can (and should) ask every one of your satisfied clients (I stole these questions from a training put on by Kevin Rogers over at Copy Chief):
- What was your life like before you used this product?
- How did you discover this product?
- What was it like using the product?
- How is your life different after using this product?
Allow your client to go into as much detail as possible when answering these questions. If your sending these questions via email, let them know there’s no word limit. If you’re talking over the phone, record the conversation so you won’t miss anything. (Some clients will prefer email while others will prefer to chat live, best to ask their preference, first).
Once you have the answers to these questions you will be able to comb through them and piece together your testimonial. Which brings us to step 2…
Work with your client. It may take a little back-and-forth to really iron out a strong testimonial… to drill down to the major benefits she received from your product/services… and get to the specifics of how it changed her life and what her experience was like.
Not all clients will give you that kind of time, but those who are wild about your services will. So at least try to hammer out a strong testimonial, because a powerful quote from a happy client will be worth its weight in gold.
How to Use Your Testimonials
Once you have your quotes, then what? How should you pick them apart to get the most bang for your buck? Here are a few ways to view testimonials that will help you sift the gold from the dirt.
Backup Specific Claims
If you are an NLP practitioner claiming you help clients “Overcome lifelong fears in a flash” then you want a testimonial that proves you can deliver that particular result. You’d want a testimonial along the lines of “My lifelong fear that’s prevented me from riding in elevators is GONE! And after just one session!”
Tell A Story
Telling a story gives your target audience a chance to identify themselves as your perfect client. By seeing how your product/service helped someone in the same position she is in (or ideally, someone in a much, much worse position) she can more clearly see how you’ll be able to help her, too.
As for how to tell a good story through the testimonial, here’s a great formula to use (Once again taken from Kevin Rogers and his 60-Second Sales Hook).
Identity -> Struggle -> Discovery -> Result
Identity: Who is this person?
Struggle: What problem did she have?
Discovery: What did she do that solved the problem (what did she get from you)?
Result: What was her life like after the problem was solved?
(You may have noticed this formula lines up perfectly with the 4 “How to get a testimonial that sizzles” questions mentioned in the section above. That’s no accident.)
Here’s an example from a sales letter written by Chris Haddad (aka Michael Fiore) for The Language of Desire – a product he recently launched for women on how to send dirty text messages to their boyfriends/husbands.
“My BF is a sailor and even though we live in the same county, our work schedules have been crazy. I sent him a couple of emails and texts and was rewarded with the most mind-blowing phone sex ever”
Identity and struggle are both wrapped up nicely in that first line. Who is she? A busy woman with a busy boyfriend. What’s the struggle? They hardly get to see each other (it would be stronger if she said that directly, instead she sort of leaves it for us to imply with the “schedules have been crazy” line).
Discovery: The emails/texts she learned from the Language of Desire book. (Again this is something that’s implied as she doesn’t mention the Language of Desire book specifically. But given the context of the sales letter we naturally assume that’s where she got those emails/texts).
Result: Mind-blowing phone sex.
How easy is it for a woman to put herself in this position? To start thinking “I’ve got a busy schedule and don’t get to spend enough time with my boyfriend/husband either”. From there she sees how a few emails/texts were able to lead to “mind-blowing sex”. It let’s her think “Well if it can work for this other woman surely it can work for me, too”.
[If this formula seems like too much you can always just go with a simple “Before and After” formula. Before trying X (*example of how life sucked*) but after trying X (*example of how life is awesome*)]
Let them Toot Your Horn
Your clients may very well be willing to say things about you that you wouldn’t dare say yourself. You may simply see yourself as someone who works hard and provides a good service. But if you have a happy client who insists you’re a “savior” who “works miracles”, has “the heart of Oprah” and “the brain of Albert Einstein”… well, who are you to say their wrong?
Your clients may be willing to make grand claims that you’d never think or be willing to make yourself. When that happens, roll with it.
How to Format Your Testimonials
Here are a few general guidelines that will help you string together strong testimonials that compel readers to fork over their cash:
Keep them tight. 1-2 sentences is ideal (that’s not just me saying that, John Carlton recommends the same thing in his must-have book Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets). If readers see a big block of text they might be compelled to skip it entirely.
You can use longer testimonials, but only if they are damn good. If you do go that route you’ll want to pull out a key phrase to use as a mini-headline (“Found the love of my life within 2 weeks!…”) and give the reader a reason to dive in to that long, intimidating chunk of text.
Be specific. Look again at the example above from the Chris Haddad letter. The result isn’t something vague or bland like “there’s more intimacy in our relationship” or “We’re happier with our relationship”. Nope, they go straight for the kill with “mind-blowing phone sex”.
So if a client says something like “I’m happier now than I was before” get examples of what that means. Find out what that happiness looks like. How it shows up in their lives. Have arguments with their spouse evaporated? Do they now take criticism in stride instead of feeling deflated and broken? Do they spring out of bed eager to tackle the day? Do they constantly hear the phrase “You just seem so much happier than you used to be!” from their friends?
Join your claim and proof at the hip. Make your claim and have the proof/testimonial right below it or to the side. The reader will have no time to doubt you and it’ll build your credibility immediately.
Get excited! Ideally you want your testimonials to make your product/service sound like the greatest, most life-changing thing on earth.
How can you get clients to convey that excitement? One trick is to collect testimonials at the right time. Ask for a testimonial right when things are going great for your client. You don’t want to wait too long to the point where they forgot what a life-changing effect you had on them. Nor do you want to ask them too early, before they’ve really had a chance to reap the benefits of what you gave them. Hit them at the “sweet-spot” when they are riding that wave of euphoria and cash in while they are feeling that excitement.
Make it authentic. Though you want to work with your client to come up with a testimonial that’s actually useful in pushing the sale forward, you don’t want to have too tight a grip over what they say. Let them use the words and language that’s natural to them. Let their own “voice” shine through. Otherwise you risk ending up with a pile of stiff, fake-sounding testimonials that fall flat.
Going Beyond “Soundbites”
Testimonials don’t have to merely be soundbites scattered throughout your sales letter or tacked on at the bottom. If you have a client who has a great story – if they faced and overcame the traditional “objections” your prospects face… if they were in a situation “typical” (or worse) than the situation your clients tend to be in… and achieved incredible results through your product/service – then you can go deep and tell that story. You can really dive in and use their example as the heart of your sales pitch.
Testimonials can also be a great resource for your headline. If you’re struggling for a headline you can always start sorting through your testimonials. You may very well find a line or phrase that’s perfect for grabbing your prospect’s attention and sucking her in to read the copy.
If You’re Struggling to Get Testimonials…
Even satisfied clients might be hesitant to take the time to give you a solid testimonial. After all they’ve got other stuff to do. They could sit there and write out their story for you… but why would they? What’s in it for them?
In No B.S Direct Marketing Dan Kennedy talks about his strategy for compelling clients to write testimonials:
Step 1 is to send a little “Thank You” gift basket with a note along with it. (If that’s beyond your budget, the note alone could suffice). Everyone enjoys a gift basket and some no-strings-attached appreciation.
Step 2 is to send a little something along with your request for a testimonial. Send your testimonial questions along with a Starbucks coupon as a preemptive “Thank you” for taking the time to answer the questions.
By giving so generously to your clients their natural tendency will be to give something back to you. And you’ve made it easy for them by supplying the testimonial questionnaire.
There’s a lot more that can be said about testimonials… but this should will allow you to hit the ground running and start collecting quotes that can close the sale.