Jul 20, 2016

B2B Sales Guide to Customer Testimonials

Traditional sales and marketing methods are simply not as effective today, unless accompanied by positive word-of-mouth advertising, such as B2B customer testimonials, referrals and reviews. Collecting client testimonials is an imperative part of establishing social proof for your business. Adding social proof helps build credibility and trust between your business and buyers. When prospects trust a business, they become more inclined to make repeat purchases.

According to AdAge, 20 to 50 percent of purchases are the result of a word-of-mouth recommendation. A study by CompUSA and iPerceptions support these findings, reporting that 63 percent of people are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.

While you certainly can’t force people to say good things about your business, there are many ways to engage happy customers and encourage them to talk positively about your business.B2B Customer Testimonials

A business customer turned brand ambassador can bolster the reputation of a brand significantly. More brand ambassadors mean more positive reviews, testimonials, blog posts, comments and referrals to your business. Together, these customer testimonials help build and maintain a positive reputation to entice new business and sell more to existing clients.

Turning buyers into brand ambassadors starts with exceeding customer expectations. When a company’s interactions with a customer go far beyond what that person expected, that individual is more inclined to share their positive experience with others. New research from Ipsos Loyalty revealed “52 percent of buyers who had a bad experience told their friends, family, or colleagues about it. Yet surprisingly, more buyers (56 percent) indicate to have shared a good experience with others.”

Mistakes, malfunctions and defects happen, but how your business deals with unhappy or frustrated customers in these situations is almost always more important than the issue itself. Just meeting your buyer’s expectations could provide a positive experience, but creating a remarkable experience will trigger unmatched word-of-mouth marketing in turn boost sales. Based on a survey commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris Interactive, “Eighty-six percent of individuals will pay up to 25 percent more for a better customer experience.”

While some happy customers tend to share their experiences without prompting, the fact is that most buyers need a little encouragement. Here are some helpful tips for getting quality client testimonials from your B2B buyers:

Getting Powerful Customer Testimonials

  1. Know When to Ask

    It doesn’t make sense to ask for a testimonial while a project is still in the development stages, since there are still more milestones to get through, which will impact your performance appraisal. Make your ask after the buyer has received the final product, implemented a complete service solution or achieved a significant business win. The closer people are to completing a goal, the happier they are.

    Follow-up a transaction with a courtesy call or email to see if your buyer has any questions or concerns about the processing of their transaction. Then add a request for a testimonial at the same time. Sweeten the request by providing an additional service at no charge, a coupon for future purchase or a free eBook guide. The goal is toadd value to buyers’ lives beyond the provided service or product.

    Then, follow-up a few weeks after to make sure your buyer is satisfied with his/her product or service. If your customer is truly delighted, include a gentle reminder to provide a testimonial.

  1. Know Who to Ask

    If you’re not sure who to ask for a testimonial, it may help to go through your project notes and customer correspondence, noting the contacts that were most involved in the overall transaction. You may have several people who are willing to create a testimonial. Request testimonials from all individuals involved in the final decision making process to capture all perspectives of a given situation.

  1. Find the Right Content Format

    Written testimonials are a popular way to highlight the quality of service your business provides. These work well on websites, brochures and a variety of marketing materials. However, research your target audience’s preferred content formats and deliveries. Every generation prefers one format to another. For example, Generation Y (buyers between 18 and 34 years old) prefers video to text, according to Mobile Marketing Watch.

    Consider using third-party review sites to get that coveted unbiased perspective. Online reviews are a great option for quickly capturing buyer testimonials. By directing satisfied buyers to online review sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc., you can significantly build your online reputation, while also furthering your local SEO strategy. It’s important to closely monitor these review sites and respond to any negative comments quickly and respectfully in order to maintain a positive online reputation.

  1. Use Testimonial Templates

    Common challenges faced when asking for testimonials include the client not knowing what to say, what you’re seeking, how long it needs to be, what format it should be in, etc. By providing the customer with a simple template or asking specific questions, you can make it much easier for them to provide you a better testimonial. The easier the process, the more likely you’ll get them to agree to participate.

  1. Show Gratitude

    Perhaps the most important thing to remember when asking for and receiving B2B customer testimonials is showing your appreciation. A hand written thank you note is the most genuine way to say thank you, but a phone call or in person thank you will also suffice. Emails are relatively impersonal, and don’t really have the same effect. Exceed their expectations by validating their efforts with a surprise reward.

  2. Ask for Permission

    In addition to thanking your clients for creating a testimonial, you should always ask for permission to share and market their story. Provide your buyer the opportunity to see how they will be quoted. Remember to ask for a professional photo or business logo, and permission to use these images in your marketing materials. Once you have your client’s permission to use the testimonial, try to repurpose the content and share it across as many platforms as possible.

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