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Testimonials And References – Powerful Allies For Building New Relationships
Do you have testimonials from your clients on your website and available for prospects?
Do you have a reference list of clients willing to provide feedback to your prospects regarding the services you provide?
If not, you’re missing a great opportunity to show respect to your good clients, to thank them for appreciating you and to point prospects to people just like them that already use your services and find them good enough to recommend you.
Your prospects know that you are there to sell them on yourself. You want them to become your client and they don’t know you well enough to instantly bond with you and form a trust relationship. While nothing satisfies those needs more than performance, how can you perform if they don’t know you well enough to become your client in the first place?
The answer is to share comments from other folks like them who have become your clients already. Even better than comments are references to your clients who are willing to speak to the prospect about you. But there is a need for both forms of praise.
Testimonials can be published using initials or no identities to show your prospects how your customers feel about you. You can ask your clients for a few words about how they felt about your last intervention, your agency’s service and the degree of confidence they have in you. Then you can use all or part of their comments with no identification or initials or other forms that identify the client to you without making their identities known to any casual reader.
References require more active participation from your clients since their names and contact information must be told to the prospect who will call them. Like the old joke about the ‘Contribution vs. the Commitment’* a client must be totally committed to you and be available when your prospect would like to speak to him in order to agree to be a reference for you. The safest way of handling references is to tell the client that a) you won’t abuse the reference and will only use him sparingly, and b) you will always call him before giving his name as a reference to check with the client and verify that prospect is not someone already known to the client or in a sensitive position (i.e. your client’s competitor, etc.). Asking permission each time a reference is made is respectful to the clients willing to sponsor you as a reference.
Here’s an example of how to ask for a testimonial or reference after a contact with your client/prospect:
I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to help you with your insurance needs. I sincerely hope that our intervention proved valuable to you and that you found the level of professionalism and service more than adequate to meet your needs.
However, if I’ve left something undone or have not fully met your needs, please call me and give me the opportunity to complete what we’ve started. I never want to leave a job ‘half-done.’
If you agree that our time together was profitable to you, I have a favor to ask. Could you please provide me with a comment regarding our service to you that I could use (without divulging your identity) as a testimonial to future customers?
We speak to many folks who have never had a relationship with us and don’t know the grade of service for which we are known. We can tell them, but, of course, they feel our ‘self-praise’ is also ‘self-serving’. However, they do appreciate and believe the testimonials our clients are willing to share. So if you like what we did for you, please give me a line or two stating that and permit me to use your words (without identifying you) as a testimonial.
And, if you feel strongly enough about our relationship, I would LOVE to use you as a reference for prospects who may want to speak to current clients about our level of service and qualifications to help them with their asset protection needs. My promise to you is that we’ll never use your name without first calling you to confirm that we’ve given your name as a reference and we will only use your name sparingly to avoid bothering you with numerous calls.
Use testimonials in your website to show prospects how your clients feel about you. Use references in every proposal to allow prospects to speak to other clients to verify that you are everything that you say (and more).
“It’s not bragging if you can back it up” Muhammad Ali
*A pig and a chicken are walking past a restaurant at breakfast time. The chicken says to the pig, “I’m starving – let’s go in for breakfast.” The pig, glancing at the sign in the window for the ‘ham and egg special’ declines the invitation. “No way,” said the pig. “For you it’s just a contribution. For me that’s a total commitment.”