Does is make sense to ask for client testimonials? And if so, how exactly do you do it?
Well, yes, client testimonials are a good thing. Here are some ways to think about testimonials and a number of ways to get them.
What other people say about your work can be much more persuasive than what you say about your work.
After all, you’re biased, right?
First of all, what is a good testimonial vs. a bad one?
This is a bad testimonial: “It was so wonderful working with James. He’s such a nice guy and so helpful and responsive.”
That’s bad because it could have been about anything. And it didn’t say a word about how James actually helped the client.
This is a good testimonial: “When I came to James, the cash flow in my business was in chaos and my profitability was down despite increasing my business volume in the past year. James helped me hands-on with my business finances and taught me what I needed to do each month to stay on track. We now have a good, positive cash flow each and every month, and profitability is up by 13%. James is amazing.”
This one is good, because it talks about actual problems the client was having and then shares how James improved the company’s financial situation.
The testimonial could have been shorter or longer, depending on how it was used, but it clearly demonstrated that James could help the client get results.
And if you were looking at getting help with your finances from James, that testimonial would definitely help you to make a decision about hiring him. Agree?
How to Get That Testimonial
First of all, it’s nice if a client simply sends you a testimonial like this one unsolicited. But that rarely happens.
You have to ask. Here are four ways to do that.
1. Ask the client for the testimonial verbally or through an email.
“Dear Joyce, I know you had expressed how happy and satisfied you were with the work I did with you on increasing your cash flow and profitability. Would you be so kind to put some of your thoughts into writing and send them to me as a testimonial that I could post on my website?”
That’s OK, but in my experience, clients will actually write that testimonial only about 10% of the time. And it’s not that they weren’t happy with your work. It’s that most people are simply not good about writing this kind of thing.
So they put it off… forever. And then you bug them and ask again and they feel guilty. It doesn’t end well. And then you give up asking for testimonials.
2. You write the testimonial for them and get their approval.
This is a much better way to go. If you’ve had a good relationship with the client, and you’ve talked about your work and results, they’ve probably already said some great things about you and your work.
So you write up a good testimonial based on those comments and send it to your client. You ask if they would add or change anything. They will most often get back to you quickly, grateful that you did the writing for them. Sometimes they’ll make a few changes or approve as-is and you are good to go.
The only problem with this method is that you are also terrible at writing something like this, so you put it off forever. I’m right, aren’t I?
3. Hire someone to call your clients and interview them about your work and then write the testimonials for you.
This is the absolute best way to go. The interviews don’t need to be long. The interviewer simply needs to ask a few relevant before and after questions, and what it was like to work with you.
And because the person you hired is a good interviewer and writer, you get a great testimonial. This is the method I’ve used.
The only downside of this is that it will cost you some money. But in the long run, it’s an excellent investment.
One new client as a result of your testimonials will more than pay for the work.
The other advantage of this method is that the client will say things to an interviewer that they wouldn’t say to you directly or even write about.
I once interviewed some clients of a client of mine and they essentially said she “walked on water.” I was able to pull out just the right things about her work. And then we put those testimonials onto her website.
4. Make testimonials part of your client contract.
This is also a powerful way to go. I learned this from Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth.
As part of every single client contract, it was required that each client would write a “client impact report” on their letterhead after the client engagement was completed.
They gave their clients a number of actual samples as templates so the client knew what was expected of them. As a result, almost every single client wrote a testimonial in the form of a client impact report.
The other upside of this approach is that it built in accountability for Gerber’s consulting company. They wanted to do a great job each time and get very positive client impact reports, which they could then show to other potential clients.
Commit to Getting Testimonials. Decide on a System. Make it Happen.
Like most good marketing ideas, few people actually follow through with them. Don’t be that person! I hope I’ve made it simple enough for you to implement one of these testimonial approaches!