The cliché about the cobbler’s children having no shoes is overused, but it’s too true — we all know having client testimonials is beneficial, but when was the last time you did anything about it?
Asking a client to provide a testimonial or recommendation on LinkedIn – attesting to the caliber of your company and services – is an essential marketing tool for your business. The third-party credibility of testimonials helps build your reputation and foster a sense of trust around your skills and abilities. And they are a form of social proof, which can help you acquire quality referrals for your business via word-of-mouth advertising.
In general, the more high quality client testimonials you have, whether listed on your company website or social media platforms like LinkedIn, the better. Having few recommendations can evoke negative impressions, and lead people to wonder about the quality of your work and your reliability as a consultant. You want to inspire a sense of confidence in prospective clients about your skills, knowledge and abilities—as well as professionalism.
In this article, we’ll look at what to keep in mind when asking a client for a testimonial, how you can help boost the quality of the recommendation they provide, and what to do with testimonials once you have them.
Approaching the Client
- Ask for the testimonial at the peak of your working relationship with the client, such as following closely on the heels of a particularly good win you’ve achieved for them or very shortly after the completion of a project. This is to ensure that your good work in helping to achieve that success is still fresh in the client’s mind, so they’re more readily able and willing to provide a stellar testimonial.
- You’re asking for a favor, so be sure your tone reflects this. Don’t sound presumptuous in your request—even if you’re confident the client is pleased with you, it’s rude to assume they’re willing to go on record. Make them comfortable if they’d prefer to decline, and you’ll feel less cheesy for having asked!
- Providing a testimonial about you is likely relatively low on your client’s list of priorities in the grand scheme of things. If a client is willing to give you one, don’t be overly demanding with how soon they can provide it to you. Give them a respectful amount of time, and don’t follow-up too aggressively.
- Consider offering to provide a draft testimonial to your client (with their consent in advance), if they are incredibly busy. They can then simply review, edit and approve. This way you’re able to exert some influence over what is included about your special qualities, skills and achievements for the client. And doing this can also help to ensure the testimonial gets completed in a more timely manner.
Getting quality testimonials
The best testimonials are results-focused in nature and highlight the measurable results and outcomes you achieved in resolving a client’s issues. When asking for a testimonial from a client, it’s advisable to give them some guidance.
Focus on the specific types of attributes—of both yourself and your services—that you want underscored, particularly at a more elevated strategic level. The ideal testimonial should answer these key questions:
- What problem did you solve for the client?
- How did you go about solving the client’s problem (e.g., strategic approach and tactics implemented)?
- What were the outcomes (e.g., quantifiable results and/or ROI)?
- What are your best qualities? Valuable testimonials also mention your top attributes, not only in terms of your company’s services, but also you as a professional (e.g., dedicated and easy to work with, etc.).
One easy, straightforward way to ask for a testimonial is to use the request recommendation feature offered in LinkedIn. When asking for a LinkedIn testimonial, be sure to let your client know that you intend to use the testimonial in multiple places (i.e., not just your LinkedIn profile, but also your website, etc.), so you have more flexibility with it.
Below are some questions, shared by Solo PR PRO Premium member, Catherine Daar, which she uses when asking for testimonials from her clients.
- What results have you achieved since we started working together?
- What did you like best about working with my company?
- How else have you benefited from our work together?
- Would you recommend my company and services? If so, why and to whom?
- What's the most important thing people should know about working with me?
The above can serve as a starting point for prompting your clients, and helping them frame their thoughts and feelings regarding their experience working with you. However, remember not to overwhelm your client with too many questions so they don’t end up becoming dissuaded in writing the recommendation for you.
What do you do if for some reason your client provides a testimonial that isn’t what you were expecting (e.g., too general, doesn’t highlight aspects you would have liked, poorly worded, etc.)? Consider tactfully asking for small revisions in a way that better emphasizes the specific skills and accomplishments you want to highlight. Similarly, you could also provide your client with a revised version for their approval. Of course, how you approach this depends on the nature of your relationship with the client.
Keep in mind that the best testimonial is the one your client will actually give you. If you’re not in a position to have the testimonial revised in any way, list it in a less visible place on your website.
How to effectively use testimonials
- Extract short quotes and/or bold key phrases that showcase the main qualities you want to emphasize, if the testimonial is long and copiously worded. Add these to your website along with the logos of your clients’ companies, if you have approval to do so.
- Make sure the testimonials you prominently feature reflect the types of sectors and organizations that are your ideal clients (e.g., if you want to work with tech companies in the future, ensure the testimonials you post on your site are those from tech companies you’ve worked with in the past).
- Highlight the testimonials that best serve your reputation and professional standing. Consider the status, integrity and reputation of the individual or company who’s provided the testimonial. How will their credibility and standing impact yours as a result of association?
Remember that sometimes short, succinct and direct quotes can be just as powerful and impactful as a lengthy treatise lauding your talents.
Having a client acknowledge and show appreciation for our hard work and accomplishments is not just an ego boost that feels good. Take the time to secure good, quality client testimonials—it helps set yourself apart from the competition, and makes future clients more comfortable in hiring you.