Do you routinely use customer testimonials to enhance your sales presentations and strengthen your marketing material? When it comes to effective marketing and business development, a glowing endorsement from a client is the gold standard. Using testimonials is a great way to build credibility and develop rapport.

In addition, customer endorsements are an effective sales tool when responding to a prospect’s objections. Nothing promotes credibility faster in the mind of a skeptical prospect than a heartfelt and sincerely written testimonial from a trusted third-party source.

There are many ways to request a testimonial from a customer, but as with most things, timing is everything. For example, don’t ask for a testimonial from a customer you’re meeting for the first time because you may appear overly aggressive.

The most effective testimonials are derived from three primary sources: positive comments received from verbal feedback, customer surveys and thank-you notes. If you take the time to nurture your key customer relationships, most of your customers are happy to give you a strong testimonial endorsement if you ask them for it.

Here are some valuable considerations to help you get the maximum benefit from your customer testimonials:

  1. Always get your customer’s permission prior to using his or her testimonial.
  2. Never rewrite a customer’s testimonial without obtaining approval.
  3. The testimonial must show the person’s name, job title and organization. If you’re using a written testimonial, it’s a good idea to include your customer’s picture, as well.
  4. There are three types of testimonial formats to consider: written, audio and video. While written testimonials are by far the most frequently used format, audio and video testimonials have been proven to be more effective.
  5. Obviously, some customers have better writing skills than others. You’ll want to coach your customers a bit on how to properly structure their testimonials in order to make them effective. Provide specific guidelines and give them copies of your most powerful and persuasive customer testimonials to serve as positive examples.
  6. Vague testimonials don’t really say anything of value. The best testimonials use specific examples that back up key selling points. For example: How much money or time did your customer actually save by using your product or services? How did your product or service solve your customer’s problems or improve his or her life?
  7. You need to be proactive and set a business goal of having a minimum of 12 customer testimonials.