Who will testify on your behalf? Your customers!

Who will testify on your behalf? Your customers!

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

Who will testify on your behalf?

Your customers!

Testimonials-the single most powerful method of making a sale-and also the single most wasted resource in creating a marketing message.

Every time I see a testimonial, I read it with interest for two reasons. The first, of course, is to see what it says. And the second is to determine if it impacts my buying decision. Does it spur me to action? Or do I just get that so what feeling?

Testimonials can sell when salespeople cannot sell.

One of the late great John Patterson’s principles of selling was, “Advertising brings awareness; testimonial advertising brings customers.” What he meant was an ad will brand you, but a testimonial (ad) can create action toward you.

When you say something about yourself, it’s bragging. When other people say it about you, it’s proof. That is the essence of the testimonial.

Before you read further, take a moment and look at the written testimonials you are using. Do they drive you to make a purchase? Or do they say the same old tired “They are wonderful people to do business with. I have been doing business with them for ten years”? That’s a passive statement that sounds nice, but the message doesn’t create buying power.

Let me give you an example: The great Ty Boyd founded the Excellence in Speaking Institute, one of the finest speaking skills and presentation skills schools in the world, right here in Charlotte, N.C. Thousands of people attend ESI each year, and they love it. Ty wants to use a testimonial campaign to promote his business. And he wants to include this statement from one of his students: “Wow! What a tremendous experience…way beyond my expectations. You and ESI are the best!”

But that testimonial is way too general.

To be most effective, testimonials need to have a specific message. General messages have little act-now impact. The following are some good examples:

— I overcame my fear of speaking.
— I improved my skills 300 percent in three days.
— When I first saw myself on video, I wasn’t that good. (OK, I was horrible.)

But now I’m 100 percent better-incredible program, incredible results.
— Now I can give speeches AND lead meetings.
— My people actually listen to me now.
— Improving my speaking skills helped me upgrade my leadership skills to a new level.
— My speaking skills are 100 percent improved. My self-confidence level is 100 percent

— The butterflies have been replaced with skills for a lifetime.
— Don’t let the price get in the way of your success. I invested in it, and it paid.

NOTE: Using a person’s name in a testimonial is not important (unless it’s a celebrity). A big company name is effective, but no name is needed unless it’s the CEO.

What should a written testimonial say? A written testimonial should be phrased in a way that takes away a risk or neutralizes a fear. It should be phrased in a way that shows a value benefit or a specific enhancement.

A testimonial should show action and make a call to action: “I used to use a competitor, but I switched to ABC. So should you.”

A testimonial should overcome an objection: “I thought their price was too high, but I bought it anyway. Now I know they have the best value.”

A testimonial should re-enforce a claim: “I increased my productivity.” “I earned more profit.”

A testimonial should claim a happy ending: “Ease of use.” “Speed of service.” “Now my people love to use the copier.”

Then there is the unspoken secret of testimonials. How do you get them? The answer is the same as it is for referrals. You earn them. The difference with a testimonial is you will have to earn them AND ask for them.

And it’s OK to prompt customers about what you want them to say-IF what you want them to say is the truth. The only thing worse than an exaggerated testimonial is that the prospect who bought from you knows the testimonial was exaggerated.

I can make you one promise about testimonials. One iron clad guarantee. THEY WORK!

I can also issue you this caution: They must be used in the proper manner, or they will lose their power. Salespeople use testimonials to get in the door. Obviously, if that is your only way, do it. But the power of testimonials is the proof they offer at the time the customer is ready to decide. Testimonials should be used at the end of the sales cycle to dispel any doubt, reduce all risk, substantiate value, and pave the way to the order.

ACT NOW: List the ten customers who love you the most. Call them, tell them what you need, and figure out a way to meet them for breakfast or lunch so you can offer them something of value (an idea or lead), and at the same time, earn your testimonial prize.

If you feel in any way awkward about asking your customer for this favor, I challenge you that your relationship with the customer is weak-so weak that your competition could earn the business.

Testimonials are powerful, and they prove you are what you say you are. Lack of testimonials indicates weakness, and they prove that you aren’t what you say you are.

Free GitBit: Want the 4.5 best ways to earn a testimonial? Go to www.Gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the word TESTIMONIAL in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, is now offering licensed training programs to corporations, as well as distributorships to individuals, based on his best-selling books and the TrainOne online learning series. This process is starting with his newest book The Patterson Principles of Selling. Jeffrey can be reached by phone: 704/333-1112 or e-mail: salesman@gitomer.com

c 2004 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112