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Let Your Customers Do the Talking

The Power of Testimonials and References

How many times has a prospect who is evaluating your product or service asked you for customer references? For many organizations, this is a required step in their buying process. Before any purchases are made, they want to know who has bought from you before and how they’ve benefited. We’ve found that customer testimonials, references and client lists are extremely useful. Customers are looking for proven track records from companies that aren’t going to take their money and then deliver a sub par product or service. 

Listed below are a few ideas you can use to leverage success stories and customer relationships to build more business:

· Ask for Testimonial Letters – First and foremost, whenever a customer buys a product or service from you, it is imperative that you follow up with that customer to get their feedback, be it positive or negative. When a customer provides you with a glowing review on their experience with your company, ask them if they would be willing to write you a testimonial letter. A vast majority will gladly agree. They understand that buyers want to see some proof before signing on the bottom line and they may have asked for testimonials before working with you. One technique is to supply a customer with sample letters that you have received from other clients. This can help get their creative juices flowing. Ask them to use their own words and to mail you their letter on company letterhead. These letters can then be used in advertisements, on web pages or scanned and e-mailed to other clients. You’ll want to make sure that your client will not need specific legal permission before using their letter for marketing purposes.

· Build Client ListsClient lists are very useful marketing tools.  They can be created to show a company’s overall experience or targeted by industry.  Many companies maintain general client lists and then build documents with lists for the financial industry, government agencies, high tech companies, etc.  Use targeted or general lists to provide prospects with an idea of your company’s track record.

· Use Quotes in Materials – Customer quotes are invaluable on web pages, sales circulars and brochures. These can be gathered from conversations, e-mails or letters. In general, when quoting a client, you may want to refrain from using their name. We’ve found that simply listing the person’s title, company and city/state will do the trick. If a customer needs more information, you can provide it to them.

· Build Reference Lists – Some customers may be more than happy to act as references when a prospect would like a personal conversation with a satisfied customer.  It is a good idea to build internal references for these times.  Use them sparingly as you don’t want your valued customers to receive too many calls.  In general, it is best to provide reference contact information as one of the last steps in the sales process.  Too many calls can ruin positive customer experiences.  Of course, don’t publish these references for anyone to access.

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