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The Proof of the Pudding

Lawrence Wilson


‘Consideration’ is a crucial component of the customer buying journey, the point when customers realise that they have a need that must be met, and actively consider whether or not to buy the product or service on offer. As part of this process they will consider other customers’ opinions, which is why if you are an SME serious about growth it’s essential to obtain testimonials.

Client testimonials provide a way for SME’s to obtain ‘third party proof’ that they do what it says on the tin, help them build trust with their prospects, develop existing relationships and uncover what they are doing well (and not so well).

Many SME’s are not asking for testimonials with regularity or sharing them as often as they should in the business development process. Much of this is down to uncertainty about how and what to ask or fear about what they might find out.

So, when is the best time to ask for testimonials?

That depends on what you do. If you’re a sculptor, the time to get the testimonial is after you have done the grand reveal and jaws are on the floor. The rest of us must think carefully about when that ‘wow’ moment is for our customers. If they are complimenting you on what you have done for them, that can be a natural time to ask.

What does a testimonial look like?

A great testimonial will have a clear before and after. It will describe the customer’s situation before they made a purchase and then what happened as a result.

It will talk about hard results in value terms – you reduced costs by x, you saved them y time, increased profits by z, etc.

If there is no value component, then it’s more about service delivery and the experience. Were you professional and knowledgeable, how were your levels of communication and attention to detail? Were you easy to deal with and responsive? If you are in the hospitality or events sector, how did the venue or event exceed expectations?

If they are not sure what to write or say, ask customers questions such as – what was the problem they were experiencing before they purchased your product or service? Had they tried anything else to solve the problem? What were the top three benefits they experienced in purchasing your product or service?

Alternatively, write it for them and ask them to approve it/tweak it. Can you think of a problem one of your current prospects has that you can address with a carefully scripted testimonial that can help you close the deal?

What do you do with your testimonial?

The final stage is about how it’s presented and what is done with it. Signed testimonials printed on letter headed paper are great to hang in your office if you have client visits or to take with you to appointments to show prospective clients. Post them on your website.  Share them on social media with a link taking them back to a landing page with a call to action encouraging prospects to find out more or sign up to your newsletter, etc. Incorporate them on marketing materials. Add a photo or create a video testimonial for added impact.

In summary, deciding where to post your testimonial and who to share it with is the icing on the cake. The key point is to open the dialogue with clients. Inevitably during this process you will find out what you are doing right and you may even find out where you are going wrong. Whatever the outcome the rewards are well worth the effort – more new business, stronger relationships with existing customers and valuable insights into areas of improvement to build into your service delivery improvement plan.

If you would like to find out how Business Doctors can help you implement a profitable growth plan, simply click on the following link for a free business health check



Author: Lawrence Wilson

With a solid background in business development, sales and account management, Lawrence has fine-tuned his skills to help small and medium sized business owners realise their ambitions.

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