Customer testimonials carry a lot of weight with people making purchasing decisions and are vital for any business. In the case of B2B companies, testimonials can be vital since they provide social proof to customers, no matter their position in the buying process.
When it comes to making a recommendation to the C-suite and management team, testimonials offer the balanced and unbiased feedback from the market they can relate to. Yes, they want concrete figures and results, but it’s the unbiased nature of a customer testimonial that does more to build trust.
A good testimonial outlines the benefits customers enjoyed, compares your products to similar ones, and offers social proof of the claims you’ve made about your products. Testimonials and reviews beat other types of content marketing, with some stats saying they’re 12x more trusted than product descriptions and sales copy.
The hardest thing about testimonials is collecting them and making sure they’re relevant, valuable, and authentic. In this article, we’ll go over the secrets to collecting effective testimonials from customers that are useful, sincere, and unbiased.
What Makes a Testimonial Effective & Authentic?
No matter what anyone says, the quality of your testimonials matters more than the number you have. Just look at all the fake reviews your favorite online shopping site has, and you’ll understand why.
Effective testimonials have four primary characteristics:
- They’re honest and real: When a testimonial is too good to be true, it’s met with a lot of skepticism. Prospects are smart enough to recognize them and immediately ignore them. Ask your customers to give their honest opinion about your products and don’t push them to exaggerate or lie about their experience. If they give you a testimonial that does exaggerate or seems too positive, don’t use it. You’re not obliged to use every testimonial you get.
- They’re short: Prospects will skim over anything longer than two sentences, so keep them short. Short ones take less time to read while still keeping readers engaged. If you want to publish a longer one, draw attention to the essential points with bolding or a brand color. It’ll make those points stand out, and people will see them even if they don’t read the whole testimonial.
- They’re specific: When reading testimonials, you want to read about the specific feature that provided the benefit. Reading that “This is the best widget I’ve ever used!” doesn’t tell you much. “This widget helped us save 100+ hours of work every month” does. The detail helps prospects visualize the results they’ll achieve too. Ask customers to include as much detail as they can in their testimonial.
- They illustrate what makes your company or products unique: Most testimonials are gathered just after a purchase and mention only what was the tipping point for them. Instead, you want to encourage customers to speak about their experience earlier in the buying process since not everyone reading the testimonial is at the same stage. E.g. What makes your company or product different from the rest? What do you offer that the competition doesn’t? Publishing testimonials with this information will engage B2B buyers earlier in their process and get you on their shortlist.
The Secret to the Authentic B2B Testimonial
Now, it gets tricky. Every customer is different, so when you ask for a testimonial, you’re not sure what you’ll get. Since you want a high-quality testimonial to publish on your website to drive conversions and keep your B2B audience engaged throughout the buying process, you’ve got to do a little work.
1. Ask Immediately
Typically, you’d ask your customer for a testimonial right when they got the most value from your product. Satisfied customers are more likely to provide the best feedback to you, but you can’t expect them to do it on their own. Nor should you wait until they become a customer before asking.
Encourage your sales and support teams to ask for testimonials whenever they encounter positive reactions and feedback. E.g. When a customer thanks the support team for helping them solve a problem with the product or when a sales team enjoys a productive demo meeting, and the prospect mentions why they liked your company and booked the demo.
2. Ask Throughout the Customer Journey
When it comes to getting testimonials from customers, opportunities present themselves throughout the buying process, not just at the end. Especially in the B2B buying journey, which can take months to complete, and isn’t over once the customer buys.
Start by asking for feedback at the end of the onboarding process to see how things went and if there is anything you could improve on. Ask if you can use any feedback as a testimonial for commercial purposes. Send another feedback request 30 days after purchase to see if anything’s changed or if they have any additional feedback.
3. Make It Easy for the Customer
Some customers will freeze when you ask for a testimonial because they feel the pressure to say the perfect thing about you, so instead, they say nothing. Customer Success expert Lincoln Murphy calls this “testimonial anxiety.”
People are so worried about how to write, what to write, if they’re grammar is correct, and so on, that they put off writing the testimonial. Some companies try to help by drafting the testimonial and getting the customer’s approval, but that’s also insincere since it’s not the customer’s own words.
Instead, Murphy advises asking the customer how they’re enjoying using your product. If they reply positively, he’ll ask for more details and any results they’re enjoying. Finally, he summarizes what they told him and then asks if he can use it as a testimonial. This way, you’re getting your customer’s exact experience described in their own words, which is the most authentic type of testimonial you can get. And they’ll appreciate that they weren’t pressured to do it or had to do anything extra. All they did was have a conversation.
4. Automate Your Feedback Requests
If you have hundreds of customers, it’s not feasible for you to follow up regularly with them to get their feedback. That’s where your email marketing software can help. Set up a customer follow-up series that automatically sends an email asking how things are going after every interaction with your company.
For instance, send out one after customers complete their onboarding and another 30 days after purchase. Consider adding a quick call-to-action in the email that makes it easy for customers to reply, such as yes-no buttons that tell you exactly how they’re doing. You can further customize the follow-up based on this response, such as asking for a testimonial if they say “everything’s great” since they’re in a positive mood at the moment.
5. Follow Up on Negative Responses
On the flip side, you always want to follow up on any negative responses to feedback requests, your social media message, customer support calls, etc. They are a chance to get a quick win by solving an immediate problem a customer has. Then, you can ask them right afterward for a testimonial.
These testimonials can be the most authentic and sincere because you’re demonstrating that you care about your customers and will do everything you can to make them happy.
Asking for testimonials should be part of every B2B company’s customer success process. It proves that their opinion matters to you and that you care about their success, which leads to better and longer-lasting relationships with your customers.
Testimonials are also critical for converting prospects since 94% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading one. Use these tips to gather authentic testimonials from customers who are happy to share them with you.