The Best Way To Use Testimonials (And How To Ask For Them)

Testimonials are the bomb.

Not only do they help rope in your ideal clients and buyers, they also can be a “feel good” store for those days when you need a reminder of the good you’ve done in the world.

(Confession: I keep mine in a Dropbox folder and have been known to scroll through when I want a lift from some stellar memories.)

But here’s the thing.

In a few sentences—or maybe even just one—they capture the essence of the transformations you deliver in multiple “languages”.

Because even when you serve a tight niche, every single client and buyer has their own filters and experiences with you.

Their testimonials give you the words to define their experiences for others just like them.

Which is why your highest, best use of testimonials is sprinkling them liberally throughout your marketing—especially your website.

You want to give your visitors a flavor—in multiple styles and places—of the transformations where you perform your finest magic.

But there is another use of testimonials that we don’t always think of.

And that’s in your sales conversations.

When I did merger and spin-off work, a CEO client was positively giddy with relief after we pulled her out of a bet-the-business problem that had consumed us for months. She turned to me and said “If I ever go into battle again, I want you right next to me.”

Not only did I write that down immediately, I started using it in my sales conversations with potential clients.

It perfectly expressed the feeling I wanted to create—that we were partners in attacking one of the biggest leadership challenges they might ever face.

But why wait for testimonials to erupt naturally?

The easiest way to ask for them is to make it a habit—by naturally ending your projects with a feedback loop. (If you’re more product-oriented, you’ll want to bake it into the client experience journey.)

Send your client an email explaining that you’d like their feedback on your work together and include a version of these five questions:

What was your biggest fear/worry/concern before you hired me/bought my product? Tip: Don’t be afraid to make it specific: “What was your biggest concern when you hired me to retool your marketing strategy?”

This allows you to get inside the head of your client as they make the pivotal decision to hire you. It gives you a window into their emotional state—get enough of these and you’ll know EXACTLY how to speak to your sweet-spot clients and buyers.

What did you value most about our work together? This gives you clarity about the value you bring to your engagements and your products. Think of it as a way to understand that “secret sauce” that only you bring to the table.

What if anything surprised you? This gets you under the hood of client expectations. Knowing what surprised them allows you to do it more consistently (or nip it in the bud).

What would you have liked to be different? Put any lingering client/buyer concerns out in the open to be addressed. Being vulnerable enough to ask and listen closely without being defensive will cement their bond with you.

Would you recommend me to someone in your position—and why? This either gives you valuable new information or—more likely—allows you to add a happy client to your webpage.

Your clients’ responses will give you a clear-eyed evaluation of your work AND the elements of a meaningful testimonial. All that’s left is to corral it into a format you can use and ask for permission to share it.

Think of testimonials—no matter how hard it feels to actually ask for them—as just one more reward for doing work that truly matters.

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