Testimonials are a strong selling tool and a resource that most sales people under utilize. Your reference sources are highly valuable to you, a "prized possession" that you want to use to your best advantage. Having a better understanding of the different types of testimonials might help you to not only use them better but get more "leverage" out of their value.
The best and most powerful testimonial is a live face to face conversation with a satisfied customer. This can happen during a tour of one of your customers facilities or possibly you have a customer that might go to lunch with you and one of your top prospects to provide feedback on their experience in working with you and your company. Powerful, yes, but time consuming as well and a finite resource. Realistically, how many times can you impose on your customers for this type of interaction?
Creating "reference accounts", customers willing to provide information to your prospects via telephone calls is the second best reference tool. You should work to create agreements with three of your best customers that would be willing to be a reference account for you. Make sure they understand that you will not "over use" them and that a phone call from one of your prospects will only occur after they have been well qualified. Always report back to them with your successes and thank them for their assistance.
The third type of reference tool and easiest to get and leverage is the testimonial letter.The greatest value of the testimonial letter is it can be used over an over again without requiring any additional time from you, your prospect or your customer. This "leverage" allows you to often shorten your selling cycle and save time. Also, the letter by itself is often enough to satisfy your prospect regarding your capabilities and might completely eliminate the need for a telephone call or personal face to face meeting.
So, what's the best way to get a testimonial letter, or even better multiple letters? It's really quite simple... the next time you are with a satisfied customer ask them how using you and your company has benefited them. After they tell you how much you have helped them, simply ask "would you be willing to put those words into a short testimonial letter?" Most people will say yes and you have just gotten your first, of what should be many testimonial letters. Make it easy for them and offer to write down what they have told you and provide it in a "Word" file that they can edit and then print on letterhead.
As you continue to constantly work on your testimonial letter file, it can become a historical record of consistent performance. We have testimonial letters dating back from our inception (1990) and have them laminated (after photocopying or scanning for reproduction) and hanging in our lobby. They become "silent salespeople", always at work meeting your prospects and re-selling your customers! They can also be on your website, too.
So, are you getting testimonial letters? Start this week and make it a habit of getting and using this powerful and "leveraged" selling tool!