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Why Getting Testimonials May Be Difficult

October 15, 2013

Canary in Coal Mine in CageAll consumers, business or personal, go through the process of getting to know, like, and trust your organization or team before they will try your products/services and buy from you. Testimonials and case studies from your current clients are a key component in building trust. If you are having a difficult time getting testimonials, it may be time to do a little digging to see what is really going on with your organization.

I do a lot of work with a mid-sized software company, and their marketing director is always commenting about how hard it is to get the sales team to give her good customers to talk to for reference stories and quotes. With a customer base the size that this client has, they should also be getting new business from referrals on a regular basis – but that wasn't happening either. It was time for some detective work. We conducted a net-promoter survey of their customers and now we know why it’s so hard for them to get testimonials and referrals – their score was negative.

So what to do? Well, we frequently remind people that marketing is really everything your company does, and this is a great example of why. The issues with customer service were affecting this company’s lead generation and qualification process right from the outset.

To either counteract this problem (or avoid it all together), the executive team needs to be clear about what you stand for and how your customers are going to experience working with you. This should be a designed process. For smaller companies, it can be done with a simple document that states the experiences and then trusts the intelligence of your team to implement that strategy. For larger firms, it has to be broken down by department and type of interaction.

If you have more than 12 or 15 people, the leadership team must be able to clearly understand and articulate what it is your customers pay you for and how you deliver on that value. (By the way, this is much easier to do if you are focused on a specific ideal customer profile). Then you must make sure that every process, interaction, communication, and system supports that value. Easy to say but very hard to do; just one broken link in this chain can result in dissatisfaction.

  • If the wrong expectations are set in the sales process, you’ll have a dissatisfied customer.
  • If the installation or training around your product isn't appropriate, high-quality, or complete, you’ll have a dissatisfied customer.
  • If the support process isn't handled correctly, you’ll have a dissatisfied customer.
  • If your customer can’t find information when they need it, the way they want it, you’ll have a dissatisfied customer.

… And the list goes on.

One of the most important things we do with a new client at the beginning of our working relationship is to go through a two or three day workshop that maps out the desired results. The map tells us what we need to do and what our client needs to do in order to support our mutual goals. Most clients start talking to us about lead generation, but in the end we work together to make sure we are supporting overall business growth.

Your ability to get testimonials is the canary in the coal mine.  If they aren’t coming, it's a sure sign that something else is wrong. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you map your way to success, give us a ring or drop us an email at team@leadingresults.com . Let’s talk about your opportunities and challenges and see if it makes sense to bring some fresh air into your approach.

Download our Testimonial Guide

Dan Kraus
Written by Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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