Let’s be real for a minute.
It’s not easy to get testimonials from your clients. Even if you know they’re happy with the work, you’re asking them to take time out of their busy day to do you a favour. That can be an uncomfortable request when the entire relationship is based on you helping them.
So when you do ask, and if they agree, you better get it right because there’s no second chance. You’re either going to get a good testimonial out of it or you’ve wasted everyone’s time.
Luckily, getting a good testimonial from your client is easier than it sounds. It doesn’t need to be scripted. And they don’t need to do much preparation in advance… as long as you ask the right questions.
That’s what we’re going to tackle in this lesson. You’ll discover 10 questions that’ll help you get powerful client testimonials every single time.
Tune in to learn:
- Why scripting testimonials is a bad idea
- How to make clients feel comfortable giving a testimonial
- Why the sequence of questions is really important
- How to edit and produce a final testimonial
- What formats work best for testimonials
- VIDEO – The 3 Elements of a Client Testimonial (coming soon)
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Hey there, folks, welcome back to the show. I’m your host, Ahmad Munawar, founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Boutique Growth, where we help professional services firms build actionable marketing plans so they can generate more leads and win more business.
Today on the show, we’re going to talk about how to get powerful testimonials from your clients. We’re going to talk about, first of all, why is it so important to get testimonials from your clients, what do those do for your business, and then I’m going to show you 10 questions that you can ask to get really, really powerful answers from your clients that you can use in your marketing.
Before we get to that, if you haven’t yet joined us inside our free course on lead generation for professional services firms, you’re going to want to check that out inside the course. I will show you a proven five-step process to generate a flood of new business for your firm. Best of all, the course is 100% free of charge, and you can get immediate access at fiveleadgen.com. You can spell out “five” or use the number, either one works. That’s fiveleadgen.com.
So, first of all, why should you even bother getting testimonials from your clients? Believe it or not, this is a question that I actually get asked quite often, and the answer is really, really simple. Buyers will believe what your clients say about you over what you say about yourself any day of the week. Right? Anybody can make claims, right? Anybody can claim to be really good at what they do, they can claim to have expertise, they can claim to be talented, but claims fall on deaf ears.
If you ever met somebody who loves to talk about themselves, then you’ll know what I mean, that they’ll talk about how great they are, and their accomplishments, and how they’re so smart, and this and that, and eventually, you just tune right out because them talking about themselves and tooting their own horn is completely meaningless, it means absolutely nothing to you. And that’s why it doesn’t make any sense to claim that you’re really good at what you do; it’s much more effective to have your clients tell people that you’re really good at what you do.
And just to prove that I’m not making all of this up, this is one of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, and that’s “social proof.” Everybody is looking for social proof to validate their decisions. It is a key element of the persuasion process. You can’t get someone to do something unless you show them some level of social proof. Even if they want to like you, even if they want to buy from you or they want to hire you, they’re still looking for some social proof to validate that they’re not the only ones, and that they’re about to make the right decision.
And you’ve probably seen this work for yourself, if you’ve ever done something like drop the name of a big client to a new prospect, where you say, “Oh, well, guess what? We work with so-and-so. They’re a really big name in your space, and they’re really happy with our work; you probably will be too.” That is a very powerful form of social proof, if you’re telling the client that “you’re going to be happy because that other client is happy, and they’re just like you, and you know who they are.”
But beyond the benefits of social proof, client testimonials also help buyers visualize what it’s like to work with you, that when they see a testimonial that’s from the client themselves, and they hear the client and see the client articulate in their own words what they got out of the experience working with you, how it benefited them, what the results were, then they begin to visualize themselves in that client’s shoes, and they can see themselves working with you and getting the same results.
So now let’s look at the 10 questions that you can ask to get really powerful testimonials from your clients. Now, before we get into that, I want to really, really emphasize here that you should not script these testimonials. Do not put words in your client’s mouth. First of all, because people will see right through that, so if it’s scripted and they’re reading it, or it’s rehearsed, or it sounds like marketing-speak, people see right through that, they ignore it.
And secondly, because you actually don’t want to put words in your mouth. You want to hear it from them, you want them to articulate the testimonial and their feedback in their own words, because chances are, their words are going to be closer to the way that your prospect sees things and would articulate themselves than your words would be. So instead of scripting, instead of putting words in your client’s mouth, ask these 10 questions and pay attention to their answers.
#1: “What were things like before we started working together?”
The goal of this question is to get the client to paint a picture of what life was like before. We want the “before” picture. What were the challenges? What were the obstacles? What were they struggling with, relative to the problem that you solve? So think about any kind of infomercial that you may have seen
. Let’s say it was a weight loss program infomercial. One of the most powerful segments of that infomercial likely was somebody who was struggling with weight loss, who just, no matter what they did, no matter how hard they tried, could not shed those pounds, and they’re talking to this person, this person’s expressing how difficult it was, how challenging it was, the obstacles that stood in the way, all the things that they tried, and they’re painting this really vivid picture of the problem that they’re solving, so that people who are in that situation, are looking to lose weight, can begin to identify with the person in the infomercial.
You’re trying to do the exact same thing. You want your client to paint such a clear and vivid picture that your prospects will see it, and they’ll say, “Hey, that’s me, I’m in the same situation. They’re struggling” — or they were struggling, rather — “with the exact same problem that I have right now.”
#2: “What made them look for a professional or a firm to help them with that problem?”
What you’re looking for here is the trigger. What made them actually get up and do something about it? There’s a lot of problems that people have, a lot of struggles, a lot of challenges, but they’re not all worth taking action. You know, generally, status quo reigns supreme.
Most people don’t act on their problems; most businesses don’t act on their problems. Usually, something has to happen. There’s some trigger, there’s some event. It could be internal, it could be external, but something has to happen to get someone to actually take action and go out and find a professional that they could hire to help them with it.
You want to understand what that is, because, again, from the prospect’s perspective, if I’m watching this, I want to see that trigger. I want to see that that’s something that might happen to me, or maybe has happened to me, so that I’m more likely to then go ahead and contact you if I experience the same trigger.
And that’s also actually really valuable information for you, and this whole conversation is valuable for you. I want to underscore that really, really heavily, is that this is not just to produce a piece of marketing content.
If you ask these 10 questions, and you pay attention to the answers, you are going to get a treasure trove of information and insight into how your clients make buying decisions, and this trigger event is just one of those insights.
#3: “How did they find you?”
So they were out, they were looking for professionals, they were looking for a firm. How did they find you? Was it a Google search, was it a referral, was it some kind of a piece of content that they discovered? Was it through a podcast interview? Was it a video? Did they look you up in the Yellow Pages?
Whatever it is, part of the story is, how did they actually go about finding you, how did they discover you for the first time, and when they found you, what did they see in you? What was their perspective on who you are and what you do?
And again, a lot of times, you’d actually be very surprised at how clients found you, so their answers to that question are incredibly valuable outside of the testimonial.
#4: “What were the obstacles to making a decision?”
This is a really important question. There’s always an obstacle — there are always several obstacles, likely — that would prevent a client from buying, so you want to address those obstacles head-on. You want your client to tell you, in no uncertain terms, “Yeah, this was the problem. You were too expensive. I wasn’t sure if it would work. I wasn’t sure that you were the right person for the job. I wasn’t sure if I had a problem that could be solved. I wasn’t sure which solution made the most sense.”
You want them to be really, really honest about what the obstacles were, and it’s important to ask this question, because if you don’t ask it, they’re not going to bring it up. They’re not going to be forthright with you about what the actual, real, genuine obstacle was unless you ask. It’s just generally not something that you want to bring up, but it’s important for you because, again, you want your prospect to see this, and you want them to identify with the obstacle, because likely, it’s an obstacle to them making a purchase as well.
#5: “Why did they choose your firm?”
So now we’re getting into “Well, how did you overcome those obstacles? Why did you end up choosing us in the end? How did we stand out from the pack? What was it about our firm that made you choose us over the firm down the street?”
#6: “Now that we’ve worked together, now that we’ve completed the project, now that the engagement is over, now that we’ve delivered this thing to you, how are things now? What is life like? What is business like?”
Here, you’re painting the “after” picture, so this has to be the inverse of the “before” picture. So before, things were terrible, they were struggling with this problem, they tried all these different things, and nothing seemed to work, and now, you know, the air smells fresher, food tastes better, they’re better-looking, so on and so forth.
You want them to articulate here the benefits that they’re now experiencing after having worked with you, and the results that they’re getting.
#7: “What are three benefits that they’ve experienced through working with you?”
Now, the previous question likely is going to get you kind of a vague, generic answer. So when you ask, you know, “What are things like now,” right, “what is life like now, what is business like now?” you’re going to get something vague, generic, general.
It might still be valuable, but likely, it won’t be specific. So the seventh question is really now pushing the buyer or the client to get more specific, because you’re asking for three things, so what are three specific benefits that they found from working with you? And now their brain’s going to start kind of thinking about a list, and you’ll get three specific things that you probably would not have gotten if you didn’t ask this question.
#8: “What was your favorite part of the experience working with us?”
I love this question, because this usually gets you an answer that is very off-script, and very surprising, even to yourself. That when they think about what the favorite part of the experience was, it’s usually not that, you know, “You delivered this deliverable on time,” or “We like the way you formatted your documents.”
It’s usually actually nothing to do with the solution, and it’s more to do with the experience working with you and with your team, and that kind of feedback, that kind of testimonial, is really important, because in the end, professional services is a relationship business, and you want them to speak to how amazing it is to work with you and to vouch for that experience.
#9: “Would you recommend that others work with us, and if so, why?”
So this is now kind of bringing it home. Obviously, they’re going to recommend you. You wouldn’t ask the question, you wouldn’t even ask them for a testimonial if they weren’t going to, but this is now bringing it home.
You want them to say, “Yes, I absolutely do recommend that folks go and reach out to Acme Consulting, because you know what? They’re just the best firm on the street, and we’re so happy with the results,” and blah blah blah blah. So you want them to articulate if they’d recommend you and why, in a nice clean soundbite.
#10: “Anything else you think is important to mention?”
This is a catch-all, and chances are, if you ask all these questions, the client’s gears are turning now. They’re reflecting back on the experience, or thinking about what they got out of it. They’re thinking about the benefits of working with you, and they probably have some stuff in the back of their mind that they want to mention, but didn’t quite come out in one of the questions.
So, usually, when you ask this question, they’ll kind of stop, they’ll pause, they’ll reflect, and they’ll say, “Yeah, you know what? Here’s another thing.” And usually, you get a really, really insightful response when you ask a question like this.
So those are the 10 questions that you can ask to generate really, really powerful testimonials.
How to package client testimonials
The next question is, well, how do you do this? How do you capture these answers? How do you present them in your marketing collateral? And there’s really three options here: text, audio, and video. Let’s take those one by one.
So you have to actually schedule an interview with the client in some shape or form. Whether it’s a phone call, whether it’s some kind of online meeting tool, whether it’s an in-person meeting, you have to actually get in front of them somehow and have this conversation. That’s required either way. And then how you produce this depends on what your resources are, and what the client and yourself are more comfortable with.
When it comes to text, you have to record the interview in audio at least, so you have the records, and then you can write up the testimonial or the case study from that. And then either you can do shorter testimonials from that interview, so you can grab a few lines and kind of package that into a nice short testimonial that you can put on your home page or something like that, or you can choose to write a longer case study from their answers, which, again, if you asked these questions, you should have all the data right there to write a longer case study, whether it’s a one, two, or a three-pager, or you could decide to do both. So that’s the bare minimum, is some kind of a written testimonial or a case study that you can create from this interview.
The second option is audio. You’re going to record the audio anyways; you could always turn that into kind of an interview, right? So you package this as a client interview, a client story, and you release that as an audio interview on your website. And then, again, you can also do text from there, so you can have the audio interview, and then a testimonial quote, and then a case study to go with it. That’s all possible.
But the most powerful way to package this — and this is certainly what I recommend, and what I try to do as much as possible with my testimonials — is a video testimonial. Video, for obvious reasons, we’ve been talking a lot about video on this show.
You can go back and listen to those lessons if you’re not yet convinced that video is a really, really powerful medium. But when it comes to client testimonials, it’s easily the most powerful choice of the three options, because as a prospect, I get to see your client, I get to hear them speak, I get to see them articulate themselves. I get to now see myself in their shoes, which is ultimately what you want out of this testimonial.
And video doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to send in a video crew, and pay a lot of money to go into your client’s office and shoot this really fancy, highly produced video. You can do that, and it may make sense — it’s definitely a good idea, it’s definitely an option — but if you don’t want to spend that kind of money, you know what you can do? You can get them on a videoconference.
Listen, go to boutiquegrowth.com, and in the menu, click on Stories, and look at the testimonials that I have there. I’ve done both. I’ve hired a video crew, and I’ve sent them into my client’s office, and I’ve recorded testimonials, and they’re really, really well produced, they’re really, really high quality.
But then I have also gotten clients onto a videoconference using a tool that I use called Zoom, but you could do the same thing with Skype, or with GoToMeeting, or WebEx, or whatever it may be. Any kind of videoconference, and I’ve asked them the questions on videoconference, I’ve recorded it, and then I’ve gotten that edited, and you know what? Those are just as good.
I don’t think the testimonial’s any less valuable doing it that way, and it was practically free. I mean, I paid an editor pennies on the dollar to get that edited. I don’t even know what it was, it doesn’t matter, but it was cheap, and they’re incredibly powerful and very, very easy to produce.
Now, obviously, whether you’re doing text or audio or video, you don’t necessarily want to include everything the client said, because it’s not going to be rehearsed, it’s not going to be scripted, it’s not going to be something that they’re just going to be able to say off the cuff. They’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to go back, they’re going to revise certain things, and you’re going to ask follow-up questions to get them to say things in a certain way. That’s a part of this process, so editing here is key.
If you look at my video testimonials at boutiquegrowth.com, that’s not the whole thing, right? I take a 10-minute conversation, and it gets edited down to, you know, three or four minutes. You want to just include the most powerful elements from the testimonial in that clip, or in the text, or in the case study.
But remember, include a piece from each of the stages of the conversation, so you want some of the “before” picture. That’s really important; you want to know what it was like before they were working with you. You want to know a little bit about the journey. How did they find you? What were the obstacles? You want to know a little bit of the “after” picture. What are things like now? Some of the benefits, some of the “Hey, would you recommend me? If so, why?”
So you don’t have to have the answers to all 10 questions in there; that’s not the point. Those 10 questions are just meant to get the right answers out of your clients, but then when you do edit this down into a case study, or a video, or an interview of some sort, then you want to make sure all of the big pieces from the client’s journey are represented there, and you’ve got the best pieces from that journey into a nice tight clip that’s short, sweet, and concise. And again, you want to check out some examples of what this looks like, head over to boutiquegrowth.com, click on Stories in the menu, and you’ll find some of my client testimonials, which I think are pretty well done.
So that’s a wrap on this lesson.
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