What I WISH I knew about client testimonials when I was starting out

While no one has ever hired me for a project based solely based on my collection of testimonials, my clients tell me it helped them pull the trigger and decide to go ahead with our first project. In their minds, the risks of hiring a stranger was mitigated because so many people were willing to publicly sing my praises.

So, I can’t complain. My collection of testimonials/LinkedIn recommendations has served me well.

But HOW I WISH I could go back and give my contacts a bit more guidance on how to write a testimonial that would really serve my business.

It turns out that the best testimonial is one where the client talks mostly about him/herself, and hardly even mentions the consultant. It focuses on *results *the consultant provided and not the consultant’s personal attributes and personality.

The ideal format for a results-focused testimonial: the client talks a bit about his/her business, then the problem they faced that led to them to hire the consultant, and then the great results they obtained from doing so.

Contrast this to a character reference testimonial. An example: “Sue is great, she knows her stuff and we love her. She’s professional, smart and a real expert. I’d definitely hire her again, blah, blah…”

Character reference testimonials are great. But results-focused testimonials are infinitely more powerful to a prospective buyers. Just one results-focused testimonial, from a similar client with similar problems, is worth at least 5 character references. Maybe 10.

Unfortunately, I did not realize this when I started out. So about 75% of my testimonials are character references. This is because I did not give any guidance to my recommenders. And by default, humans seem hard-wired to give character references instead of result-focused testimonials, UNLESS you tell them specifically what you need.

I should have provided a template to my recommenders that would help them quickly form a result-focused testimonial. Nowadays, that’s what I do.

Sue Raisty

Product management geek, born-again engineer, adoptive mother of boys, coach & mentor, mountain trail runner, tinkerer, no-bull communicator, wannabe writer, room mother & compulsive researcher.

Silicon Valley, California http://blog.sueraisty.com