Someone talking about how good you are is so much more powerful than you saying how good you are. A customer praising your product, is so much more credible than you telling people you have great products. And, a customer going on and on about your extremely great service will help you grow your business much more than anything you could say, do, or advertise. The customer referral is the most powerful way of growing your business. The only problem, or is it really a problem, is that you have to be truly great for customers to want to refer you.
The same applies to testimonials. Think about how much a customer has to like you, your company, and the service you provide to want to write a testimonial about it. The customer has to be head over heels in love with you, to be willing to put his name on a testimonial about your company. The motivation that it takes to get a customer to go out of his way, to make a concerted effort to tell others about how great your products are has to be enormous. You really have had to please, make that elate that customer, so that she will write and be willing to publish a testimonial about your company, or products or services. There is nothing better.
So, how do you do it? How do you get your customers to publicly praise you or at least give you a referral? And better yet, how do you get them to write you a testimonial?
First of all, you have to be very good, in fact you have to be outstanding. No one gets any referrals or testimonials, if they are not great. It’s as simple as that. I have to confess that I have worked with some companies who were so insecure about what their performance had been in the past and what their customers thought of their performance that they would not even dare ask for a referral and may I add, they were right. Asking for a referral from their customers, based on their performance would have been asking for trouble. So yes, you have to be good, if not then forget it.
But there is more than just being good. Here are other things you have to be to be “referable”: (these are from Jeffrey Gitomer’s excellent book, The Sales Manifesto.)
These are Gitomer’s words from the book
- Be likeable. This is the first prerequisite. Without a friendly relationship, there is no need to go further.
- Be reliable. The company, the product, the service, AND you just be the “best” and “there when needed.”
- The customer considers you an expert in your field. To be referable, you must have an expertise that breeds customer confidence.
- They trust you. The customer is CERTAIN that you will do everything in the referred party’s best interest. Like you have with theirs.
- You have a track record of performance: You have already done the same thing with the customer and they are comfortable that you can repeat the performance.
- They consider you valuable a resource-not just a salesperson. Not just “do what you say.” There’s no real value there. I mean provide value to the customer beyond your products and service. Helping the customer to profit more, produce more , or some other form of value., either attached to your product or not. Not value in terms of you, value in terms of the customer.
There is no doubt that if you fit these six criteria you are able to consider yourself ultimately referable. But then again there is more work to do to get those referrals and testimonials. You have to ask. We already established that you are good, we have already listed the great things you do for your current customers to make them willing to refer you to another potential customer. But that is not enough, your work is only getting started, because now you have to ask your customers for referrals. And might I say that if you are fully qualified, if you are indeed “referable” then most of your customers will agree to give you a referral.
The thing to remember is those who can, will give you a cooperate with you, but others through no choice of their own will not, because they cannot. If your customer is a large company like Raytheon, or Lockheed, or Intel or the like, then forget it, don’t even try because the people who work for these giants are not allowed to give referrals and especially testimonials that will e published as part of your marketing. Now the thing you can get from these folks is a what I call an intercorporate referral. If they are indeed happy with you, they will gladly refer you to others in their own company and considering a huge company like the ones I have named, this can be a very very good thing. But don’t expect them to put their company’s name on any of your marketing materials. If they even tried to do that armies of their corporate lawyers would descend on the, on droves from their magnificent corporate offices in the sky.
It is always best to get your testimonials from smaller independent companies . If they like you, they will be happy to do it. Not just for but also for themselves because they will also enjoy the publicity that a good referral by them for you will bring them as well. It’s only common sense.