Testimonials are a powerful sales tool when handled correctly and customer testimonials are often the most effective type since they are also the most believable. The wise salesperson will gather a group of testimonials for use in convincing prospects to buy.
Interview Your Customers
The most effective, albeit time-consuming, way to get testimonials is to interview your best customers, write up a testimonial including direct and accurate quotes, and print it out in a professional-looking format such as a letter or brochure. This process takes some planning, as you'll need to locate customers who are willing to help, set up a time to interview them and do the actual writing of the testimonial.
The next best way is to have a pre-written form for interested customers to fill out, and then plug quotes from this form into a standardized testimonial template. This method takes up much less of your time and yields faster results, but usually, results in a less effective end product.
One method that just doesn't work is sitting back and waiting for your customers to shower you with testimonials. Sad but true, if your product is working well for the customer, they don't think about it. The only time you're likely to come up in the customer's mind is when something is going wrong, in which case they are unlikely to shower you with testimonials.
Ideally, you'll want to collect testimonials from a wide range of customer types. The more connected a prospect feels to the customer in the testimonial, the better, so having a lot of possible samples increases your odds of finding a really good match for a tough prospect. It also demonstrates that your product works well for many different types of customers.
If your business is brand new or you're selling a new product and don't have many customers, you can get testimonials anyway by handing out free samples of your product in return for a written evaluation from the recipients. Make sure to include the information somewhere that you may use quotes from them in your marketing materials.
Thank You Notes
Hopefully, you already send thank-you notes to new customers right after you close a sale. You can include a request for a testimonial in the thank-you note itself, and you'll soon be neck-deep in testimonials. Either suggest that they email you a few lines about their experiences with your product, or include the aforementioned pre-written testimonial request form with the note.
If you need to build up a big stock of testimonials quickly, try offering some incentive to customers. It can be as simple as appealing to their pride by telling them their name and story will be featured in your marketing documents, or you can offer a coupon, free gift or another incentive to get the testimonials rolling in.