Who doesn't love a little customer proof prior to making a purchase?
You can demo your product for hours, but until the customer believes you can actually deliver the value you promise, your bells and whistles aren’t going to do much for you. Providing proof that your solution does what it says it’s going to do, (1) strengthens your sales message and (2) makes a customer feel more comfortable about doing business with you.
Testimonials are a critical part of demonstrating your value and differentiation. So, if customer testimonials are an important part of the sales process, why are they seen, in many organizations, as a job strictly for marketing?
Marketing may be able to package the content, but the sales organization can lead the charge in gathering powerful client references. Some of the most powerful testimonials we’ve created at Force Management came from a salesperson who was intimately involved in the account. They knew the metrics and were easily able to convince the senior leadership to talk about it.
The truth is when sales and marketing work together on testimonials, they’re stronger and more relevant to your sales conversations. Don’t rely on the marketing department to hunt down customer testimonials for you. Take a leading role in gathering the proof points that will help you close more deals.
Here are five reasons why you should take an active role in gathering customer testimonials:
1. Measurable Results
Best-in-class salespeople know the importance of gathering measurable results in their accounts, and they have the necessary client relationships and the trusted advisor status that draws out the numbers. A testimonial is much stronger when it’s tied to metrics.
Marketing doesn’t have the client relationship or the access to gather those metrics. Take charge of your proof points. Drill down on the positive business outcomes of your solution. Look for specific measurable results -- in dollars, numbers or percentages -- when gathering evidence on the impact of your product and services. Once you have them, share them with marketing so they can help package them effectively in their content pieces. They’ll be glad you did the heavy lifting.
2. Highly Relevant Content
When you participate in gathering customer testimonials, you ensure they’ll be highly relevant to your sales process and go beyond “generic kudos.”
Do you want your client to say your company is great to work with or do you want them to say that you helped them drive 25% more revenue in their North American business unit?
Think about when you call a reference for a new hire. Predictably, that reference will always have great things to say. After all, the candidate told you to call him/her. The key is to ask the right questions that get that reference to go beyond the typical boilerplate answers.
It’s the same when gathering a testimonial. If marketing is planning a testimonial interview, work with them on asking the right questions that draw out the answers you need. You don’t want generic answers. Instead, determine what you need this customer to say to close additional deals with current prospects. When you help marketing gather the right content, you’ll ensure your testimonials are highly relevant to your sales conversations.
3. Fill the Gaps
In most companies, there are usually two situations that spark a customer testimonial.
There is a willing customer.
There’s some sort of success within the account.
That strategy may ensure you have some great customer quotes on your website, but it’s not necessarily going to create the type of content that consistently turns a prospect into a customer.
Instead, think about your sales conversations. What do you wish you had current customers talking about? Help marketing fill in the gaps. Develop a process that’s focused on compiling measurable results not only from happy customers, but in needed areas that will turn future prospects into paying customers.
4. Win Deals Against the Competition
An impactful testimonial can be the one thing that turns a simple opportunity into a closed-won deal. Leveraging proof points at the right part of the sales process drives value and demonstrates differentiation in the eyes of your prospect. You will be at an immediate advantage if you give your buyer the opportunity to hear tangible evidence of your success in similar companies. That’s exactly why you should participate in the process of gathering them. When you take an active role in collecting testimonials, they’ll be stronger and you’ll be able to better leverage them in competitive deals.
5. Improved Sales and Marketing Alignment
A consistent sales and marketing message is one of the most powerful ways to communicate your value and differentiation to the marketplace. Unfortunately, marketing and sales often speak very different languages.
By taking an active role in the customer testimonial process, you’ll improve this alignment. Marketing will understand what you need in your sales process, and you’ll be able to better leverage the improved content in your sales conversations.
Originally published May 1, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017