Most of us are familiar with recommendations on Linked In – and these are always encouraging to get, and pleasing to read. But, you nearly always have to ask for them in order to get them; and if there’s no guidance, you get something along the lines of, “Karen is great. She is a really wonderful person and you should work with her.”
The same goes for testimonials that we gather (usually upon the launch of a website, and then we don’t think about testimonials again for months or even years afterward). But testimonials can be an extremely powerful way to get more business, so here are a few tips for gathering them in and using them well:
You need a systemised testimonial system, otherwise you miss your greatest opportunity. The absolute best time to get a testimonial is when you have just finished some work for a client, they’re thrilled with what you’ve done, and they’re right there with you. Think about when your most opportune moment is to gather testimonials. For accountants, the best time is usually in person, and right after you’ve finished their accounts, or tax, or something specific that has saved them money or made their life better in some way. Think about when this time is, and prepare for it.
Create a form that asks the right questions. Include their name, company, position, of course – but also include questions like:
– What needs did they have?
– How difficult was the work you did (what challenges did they face)?
– How long did it take you to sort the issue?
– What did you provide for them, or what results did they get?
– Why would they recommend you?
Then simply fill in the form with your client when you are there with them in person – or even make the form available to all your team members to do the same. (For a testimonial/case studies template available in our Free Stuff, click here to register for our Customer Hub.)
Ask leading questions. You want to encourage your client to talk about what is most helpful for your prospects and others to read, or know about. Think first about what you do best for your clients – as Andy Bounds puts it, the ‘AFTERs’ that your clients receive – and ask questions like “How much did we save you on tax?” or “How long did your accounting work take you before you came to us?”
Take photos. This is your best opportunity to let the world know that your clients are real people. Stock images of people are passé – most of us can spot them a mile away (or have seen the same image on multiple sites). Be real, and let your clients be real too. If at all possible, get a professional photographer to take some candid shots.
Take video. Even better than photographs is a short video of your client explaining this to the camera. It doesn’t have to be perfect – again, being real means that it will probably carry more weight if it’s not quite perfect – and you can get pretty decent results even from your iphone. Just use a blank background, keep the camera steady, and consider a video editing program like Camtasia to put together the best bits. (Or of course you can hire a videographer or graphic designer to help you out.)
Share the testimonials immediately, and regularly. If every time you got a new testimonial, it appeared on your website, your Linked In page, your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, Google Plus, YouTube, etc….it might get noticed a bit more than the one page of ten or twelve comments you’ve had on your website for the last ten years. If your client is on social media, link them with it. Thank them, promote their business at the same time. They’ll be thrilled, too.
You can read a few recent kind words from our own clients here – and more to come!