Testimonials matter. In sales where value propositions are next to identical and compelling differentiation is narrow or non-existent, proof of concept counts and often closes. Buyers typically aren’t too optimistic about being the first one into the deep end of the pool. Knowing you’ve been there and done that provides assurance. The ability to demonstrate outcomes that not only meet expectations but deliver above and beyond can be a difference maker. Involving your best customers in the sales cycle elevates trust among business relationships you are cultivating…and the strength of the testimonial often depends heavily on the sellers skill.
So, how does a sales organization build out a portfolio of world class testimonials? How do you turn customers into Raving Fan Brand Evangelists? Simple. You earn it.
1. Deliver results
2. Invest and build meaningful relationships
Results are what its all about. But results without a relationship aren’t good enough. Do your best customers champion your cause and go out of their way to help you succeed? Do you do likewise for them even if it isn’t in the contract? Tip: that is what new customers want.
When you are delivering and developing meaningful relationships, you still have to ask. But, isn’t that the job of the marketing department? Hardly! Customers are buying from YOU….and YOU need to demonstrate proof of concept also. A good marketing organization will take great care in packaging, promoting and building out a portfolio of testimonials, case study’s and client experiences the right way……but anyone selling today can cultivate client feedback in a way that advances their cause.
I recently delivered keynotes in Madison and Maine. In follow up, with positive client feedback, I felt I’d earned the right to ask for the coveted testimonial. Always an opt in (if I didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it, please do not feel obligated in any way to oblige) and authentic, I was fortunate to receive the following two positive returns from my customers:
“From a 72-member program faculty, Ryan Estis was the highest rated presenter at our four-day conference. No surprise! Ryan did his homework for the keynote. He offered a sophisticated, strategic message delivered with style. And Ryan connected with the audience so that the sophisticated message translated from the stage into practical applications for the attendees. We look forward to having him back next year!”
Maine HR Convention
“We engaged Ryan to keynote our conference because we knew he would bring high energy and set the tone for a great conference; he far exceeded our expectations. I have been involved in our conference for 5 years and never had I heard such a buzz that lasted throughout the day and beyond. Not only as a conference organizer did I find Ryan’s energy empowering, but as an HR professional, I still find myself revisiting Ryan’s message and applying it to my daily work life. Thank you Ryan for delivering on your promise; you told me you would bring it, and you did!”
Zach Penshorn, VP Programming Greater Madison Area SHRM Chapter
These are great additions to my ‘Testimonials Portfolio‘ and I am more than grateful for the client partner contribution because it certainly benefits my business. But, if you are a Sales 2.0 Rock Star and paying close attention you’ll notice my colossal mistake. How, with such good feedback and momentum around the client experience could I leave my Flip-Cam in the bag?
Yup. My mistake. That would have elevated the impact substantially. Next time.
You are a Sales Rock Star? Then you have powerful testimonials, proof of concept and an authentic, differentiated and compelling value proposition around both your business solution and buying from YOU!
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.