Charles H. Green got me thinking the other day about the right way and the wrong way to ask for testimonials. He was actually talking about how to do customer service surveys but his point applies to asking for testimonials as well. In Trust-Based Selling, Green wrote, “It’s manipulative to ask customers point blank if you have given them excellent service; it is embarrassing, self-serving, and highly self-oriented.” (p. 201) Having been on the receiving end of just such a manipulation seven years ago when I bought a new car, I agree completely with Green.
The interesting thing is that the sales rep’s effort to control my survey backfired. I got quietly furious about their attempted bribe, a free initial tuneup in exchange for giving them an outstanding report card – whether they had earned one or not. The manufacturer eventually had a customer service rep do a telephonefollow up. I dumped my frustration on her. Need I say that this dealership practiced hard sell techniques rather than soft sell?
The reason I’m writing about this is because it relates also to requesting referrals and testimonials. One of the criticisms Charles Green made of these on-the-spot pleas for outstanding customer service ratings is that they are totally self-serving instead of being customer focused. So how does a heart-based, soft sell salesperson get testimonials?
I think it’s a bit of a tightrope walk to do it right without losing the trust you worked so hard to develop. First, you need to be sensitive to your customers’ degree of comfort with you and with your sincere efforts at putting their interests first. I listen too to their comments. If they are really excited about what I have done for them, then I ask if they would mind my putting it in writing for their review and editting then they can it back to me with their approval to use. The point is, everyone knows I’m a salesperson. The key to heart-based, soft sell sales lies in which has priority, my prospects’ challenges and desires or my profit. Assuming I have earned their trust and delivered what they need, I have found customers very willing to give me a testimonial.
So, skip manipulating your customers into giving you an outstanding on your customer service report card, if you want to retain their trust. On the other hand, truly outstanding service warrants an outstanding report card. The same is true for testimonials. Follow the practices of heart-based, soft sell sales and marketing. Listen to their needs first. Even if it isn’t your product this time that they need, tell the truth. Help them out. Show by actions, not words, that you care. Then you can in all integrity ask permission to use what they told you about how thrilled they are as a testimonial.
Speaking of which, I just posted a testimonial from a member of my community. You’ll find it right below “Search” and “Invitation to Opt-in for Free Subscription.” Dave’s comments appear as “Testimonial for Bonus ‘9 Steps to Finding Prospects’.” I’m excited and grateful to Dave for stating that he’s gotten the very benefits from this course that I hope all my community members get who read it. I invite you too to sign up for this bonus.
My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. https://amzn.to/2BaP2AH I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.
Marketing Strategies: What do you need to know to avoid wasting time and money?
Appeal to Prospectors Instead of Prospects
Be Enthusiastic – If You Don’t Care, Who Else Will?
Passion in Sales Will See You Through
How You Gain from Giving Testimonials
Don’t Forget the Facts — Soft Sell Sales Isn’t Just About the Customer’s Situation
Don’t Let Your Passion Blind You to What Your Customer Wants
How Soft Sell Sales Can Give You Your Self Respect Back