If you sell for a living, you know the power of a customer testimonial. An effective client reference may mean the difference between a lost opportunity and a won deal.
And while your company may have great testimonials, if you don’t know how to use them in a sales process ... their value will fall flat.
There are numerous ways to leverage customer testimonials in the sales conversation. You need to look for the right opportunity to have the greatest impact. After all, your sales process shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter approach. Rather, it should align with what your buyer needs and how he/she buys.
The key to leveraging any testimonial is to use it in a way that has impact, depending on your prospect.
How do you know when the timing is right?
Evaluate each of the four use-cases below to determine which situation is best for your current prospect. If you have enough testimonials, you may consider using them at several times during your sales process.
1. Get Someone’s Attention
A powerful testimonial that contains measurable results can be the one thing that makes a prospect take notice. If you’re having trouble attracting an individual prospect, use a testimonial to get their attention.
We recently published a case study that highlighted how our solution increased one sales deal by more than $6M. One of our sellers used it as a reason to reach out to a prospect who had stopped returning her emails. The result? A meeting was set up for the next week.
Remember, money talks. If you’ve had trouble getting a prospect to pay attention, send them a short note highlighting a metric that could significantly impact their bottom line.
2. Demonstrate Your Value
If you have a prospect’s attention, the first part of any value-based sales conversation is to focus on the buyer’s needs.
What are their purchase requirements?
What positive business outcomes are they looking to achieve?
Once you reach a stage in the sales conversation where you truly understand your customers key pain points, then it’s time to let them know how your solution can solve their business problems.
Buyers are skeptical; they want to know that you can do what you promise. An effective testimonial provides tangible evidence in the eyes of your buyer. Telling them you can cut their processing costs by 25% is one thing. Hearing that same metric from three of your customers is much more impactful -- and can be what converts someone from a prospect to a customer.
3. Show Your Differentiation
Once you’ve demonstrated your value, you need to show your differentiation. Your competitors are always part of any sales process. If your prospect is considering a major purchase, it’s highly likely that they’re evaluating other solutions. A testimonial that demonstrates your differentiation is an effective way to show how your solution is more effective than the competition’s. Here are three testimonials to consider:
A video featuring customers explaining what makes your solution different.
A case study that demonstrates a capability you have that is important to your customer, and one you know your competition doesn’t have.
A customer-written blog or Q&A that talks about why they chose to work with you and the success they’ve had.
Don’t make your customer take your word for it. If your solution will truly solve their business problems better than your competition, let them hear the tangible evidence from your past clients.
4. Mitigate Risk
Early in the buying process, your buyer is focused on evaluating how your solution maps to their required capabilities. That’s when you need to highlight how your solutions can help alleviate their most pressing business needs. Later in the sales process though, your buyer will be looking to mitigate risk in the purchase. They want to feel comfortable about doing business with you.
Explaining your company’s history and longevity can help, as well as showing the logos of your past customers. But, neither will have as much impact as a testimonial. Hearing clients who are similar to your buyer talk about their success can help lessen any hesitation they may have about signing on the dotted line.
Testimonials are a fundamental part of effective value-based selling. They can carry a lot of weight with your prospects. Don’t waste them. Leverage them at the right time to help you move an opportunity forward and eventually close the deal.
Originally published May 8, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017