A colleague recently said, “If you become a testimonial-based seller (which I believe to be the most powerful form of sales in the world), then you can get testimonials for every element, or every step of your sales cycle.” He is right on the money.

Testimonials can be used for different stages of the sales process; for example, deciding to set an appointment, receiving a given product/service or being contacted for a follow-up. And the power of the testimonial increases when “real” customers are seen or heard testifying as to how beneficial a product/service has been for them. Testimonials increase your credibility because they are third-party endorsements rather than words out of your own mouth. Offering real stories from other customers can turn a mental picture of your proposition into a tangible experience.

The more specific a testimonial is the more power it has for the customer. For instance, “Great company, great service” lacks meaning because it is vague and doesn’t really tell the customer anything of value. Consider the impact when a testimonial becomes more specific: “I was really impressed with this company’s speed of service. They pulled out all the stops so that I had product sitting in my warehouse within 24 hours.

When requesting testimonials, you are looking to obtain a genuine viewpoint that praises your organization/product/service. Therefore, the best time to ask for a testimonial is when your customer has experienced the benefits of your product/service.

To help busy customers respond to your request for a testimonial, provide them with examples so they can see how easy they are to write. It also helps if you can provide them with a simple structure to follow, for example:

  • Why did you agree to meet us?
  • What persuaded you to buy our product?
  • What benefits have you gained from using this product?
  • How would you describe our level of service?

Every testimonial should include the customer’s name, his title and his organization’s name (if relevant), and ideally a thumbnail-size photograph of the customer. This helps to convey the authenticity of the testimonial and builds credibility.

Using “the most powerful form of sales in the world” by deploying a testimonial for each stage of a sale can turn a reluctant customer into an eager one.

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit http://www.topsalesworld.com/, or go to his blog at http://www.thejfblogit.co.uk/.