How to get testimonials that sell

If you have seen the marketing for the latest musical to hit Melbourne, you’ll have noticed that it relies heavily on testimonials.

Tweets from theatre goers adorn posters have been slapped on walls throughout the city. And it’s clear why, when they include gems like this:

“@bookofmormonau will the cast be doing stage door? Just wondering so I can thank them personally for changing my life”


“My heart just exploded with joy and I’m 160% okay with that #LoveMormon”

Testimonials are an incredibly effective sales tool. Hearing about the experiences of other people who have been rewarded for their decision to purchase a product or service gives potential buyers courage to take the leap as they identify with those people and subconsciously see themselves achieving the same levels of success.

Key elements of effective testimonials

Not all testimonials are equal. To be compelling, they need to:
– Be authentic (the more details you can include the better, for instance name, profession, location – video is often more compelling as it seems more ‘real’.)
– Follow the problem, solution, outcome format: “I tried everything for my daughter’s painful and itchy rash but it cleared within 24 hours after using xxx.”
– Address client concerns or objections: “I doubled my investment within two months.”
– Written in a conversational rather than formal style.

For example, instead of: “Bob provides a professional mechanical service.”
“I’ve been burned in the past by mechanics charging me for unnecessary work so Bob has been a breath of fresh air. He listens to my concerns and explains what he is doing and why. I recommend him to all my friends and family.”

Instead of: “Good service.”
“I wish I’d had a dentist like Amy when I was a kid, maybe then I wouldn’t be scared of a checkup!”

How do you get testimonials?

You ask! Make it part of your follow up process after completing a sale or after providing a service to ask clients for their feedback (and their permission to use it for marketing purposes).

What to ask

Without putting words in their mouth, you need to ask clients for a testimonial in a way that is likely to provide the key elements needed for it to be effective.

You can frame this by asking questions such as: problem, solution, outcome format

– Why did you buy our product/service? (to find out the problem)
– How did it help? (solution)
– What results have you achieved through using our product/service? (outcome)
– What concerns did you have about our product/service before you experienced it? (identify the sales objections that were overcome)
– Who do you think would benefit from our product/service? (identify others like them)
– Would you recommend our product/service? If so, why? (how it can help others like them)
How to get people to contribute a testimonial
– Reward them with entry to a prize draw
– Offer something small for everyone who submits a testimonial (gift card, discount offer…)
– Do it as part of a fun survey
– Offer to feature them on your blog or newsletter, which provides some cross promotion for their business
– Ask them personally; give them a call or send them an email
– Put a testimonials page on your website and ask people to submit theirs (you’ll probably want to ensure you can vet them first in case of spam or detrimental posts)
– Enable purchasers to add their testimonial via social media, including Facebook and Twitter
– You can also put out a call for testimonials on your company website and social media channels, or send them direct mail.

How to get testimonials for a new product/service

Give friends, family or existing clients a free taste of your new product or service in return for their feedback. This can also give you key information on ways to improve your new offering.

How to utilise your testimonials

Use testimonials wherever you can leverage their impact, including on your:
– Website
– Landing pages
– After your order form (to prevent buyer’s remorse)
– Social media
– Emails
– Direct marketing
– General marketing collateral
– ENewsletter

Bonus – source of compelling case studies

Gathering testimonials should be an ongoing process. You want to refresh the testimonials you display on your marketing materials and you also want to keep in touch with your customers’ experience of your product and service and demonstrate that you are committed to constant improvement and listening to your clients.
Another bonus of gathering testimonials is that they provide a great source of potential case studies. If you have raving fans, tap into them and flesh out their success story. The longer story format of a case study provides a greater opportunity to tap into potential buyers’ emotions – and people buy on emotion justify with logic.

Give them both and get the sale.