Today, 92% of consumers incorporate product and service reviews into their online purchase decision1. Positive reviews are a critical component of an organization’s branding and marketing strategies because they instill trust and loyalty.
Since third party reviews are so very effective, it’s difficult to imagine why many sales people don’t leverage them when selling their products and services. Merriam-Webster defines ‘testimonial’ as, “a statement testifying to benefits received; a character reference or letter of recommendation.” Sales professionals typically spout off all of their products’ bells and whistles, however third-party testimonials that describe how the product or service solved a customer’s problem—the application, is what matters most to prospects. Here’s why.
- Stories resonate with people. In an increasingly complex selling environment, successful sales professionals use relationship-oriented selling approaches including sharing the experiences of other clients, after gaining their permission. Revealing a story about a customer’s positive experience helps the prospect eliminate doubt and minimizes procrastination. This is because the prospect can identify with the person who gave the testimonial and more easily understand the results of using the product or service.
- Objective opinions drive purchases. Many sales professionals thrive on spewing all sorts of facts and benefits about their products and/or services because they believe the information will compel people to purchase. While relevant, salient information helps the buyer discern whether or not the solution will work for them, many people—myself included, are leery of sales professionals because they know their intent is ultimately to close a deal. Seeing or reading a testimonial of an objective party, a third person, typically carries the power to sway the prospect to overcome any skepticism and move towards purchase.
- Legitimate testimonials are more powerful than canned pitches. Sales professionals often use sales scripts to minimize anxiety about potentially making a mistake with their sales spiel. Of course it’s important to prepare for a meeting and practice presenting with compelling language, however people can often see right through a canned sales pitch. Dale Carnegie said, “Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.” Know the core product information—facts, benefits, applications, etc., but also take time to procure positive testimonials that will resonate with prospects.
- Develop confidence and credibility. Today, prospects are armed with pricing and information from your website, Internet reviews and the recommendations of colleagues and friends. The more positive information available, the more confident the shopper will be that they’re making the right decision. Dale Carnegie’s 3rd principle, ‘Arouse in the other person an eager want,’ is more easily achieved when testimonials, reviews and recommendations are used. For example, a job candidate is more likely to land an interview if she has compelling recommendations on her LinkedIn profile from former and current colleagues. In the same way, the more relevant testimonials you can procure, the more credible both you and your offerings will be perceived by the prospect.