When people are deciding which firm can best represent their company’s ideas, values and products, there must be a level of trust. They must feel confident that you have done this type of work before, and that your customers have been happy and gained directly from your efforts.
There is no better marketing tool to prove your value than a customer reference or testimonial.
Getting a Testimonial
Many business people think that a testimonial discussion begins after a deal is closed, you’ve completed the work and everyone is happy. Actually, that is when the conversation ends.
The first time to talk to a customer about becoming a reference is when you start your selling process. “I know I am the best partner for your growth and fully expect you to be so happy with my work that you will become one of our best referees.” Each time you meet with the customer, talk about the reference process. The client will be thrilled at all of the free publicity they will get and happy to promote your services if they think you did a good job. By the time you have finished your work with the customer, asking them to be a reference will be an easy conversation.
Creating a Reference
Everyone expounds on the importance of customer references, but no tells you how to present them in a manner that will capture interest and attention. The first tip is to keep them short. Describe the customer in a brief sentence and succinctly state their problem. Immediately follow it with the solution you provided and the results that were achieved. Each reference should have a quote. The more specifics you can provide the better. Make sure to obtain your customer’s permission to share their reference information.
Presenting a Reference
There are no shortage of ways and places where you can use a reference. Use them in articles, speeches and press interviews. Send them to prospective customers. Put them on your website. Take them on sales calls. Be prepared with phone numbers and e-mail addresses so the customers can talk to the references directly.
References can be the difference in an economy where customers are savvy and slow to spend their limited resources.
Start talking to customers about becoming a referee in your very first conversation and present them in a clear, concise manner that will give prospective customers the information they need and the confidence that you will help them succeed. As your references grow, so will your business.