Five Great Ways to Send Your Sales Skyrocketing - Part 3

By Colleen Francis

#3. Unleash your secret sales force by obtaining great testimonials

It's a challenge that even the most accomplished sales professionals have to tackle regularly: how to attract more of the targeted customers who are best suited to help your business thrive. After all, it's not enough to know who it is that you want to reach, or even to fine-tune your business habits to emulate the top sellers in organizations of all sizes. You also need to find ways to attract more of those ideal customers to fill your prospecting funnel. Indeed, there's plenty you can do on your own to fine-tune your sales approach, but the work doesn't stop there.

Your customers can also play a huge role in sending your sales skyward, but only if you let them help you do that.

Testimonials aren't about promises. They're about proof.

This is where testimonials enter in play—simple, heartfelt, authentic statements of fact from people describing how they have benefitted from doing business with you. Testimonials achieve what no amount of advertising or marketing can accomplish singlehandedly—they prove to others what you know to be true about your work and the products/services you sell.

Don't get me wrong. Other methods of reaching out to potential customers are important in any sales arsenal, but testimonials need to be part of that push. To be blunt, prospects are going to believe your clients far more than they're ever going to believe your marketing messages. Educated consumers are prone to look beyond promises that companies make about being the best in their field. They're likely to think: "of course you'll say you're number one...you're in sales and you're paid to say that."

However, when you back those pledges with solid, third-party proof, a different thinking pattern starts to emerge, especially when the testimonials come from people with whom prospects can identify with in terms of shared circumstance or profession. They see your claims about excellence and professionalism, and then they see those claims validated in a manner that isn't couched in self promotion or sales rhetoric. 

Your secret sales force, ready to serve.

The power of word-of-mouth from all of your customers combined creates what I like to refer to as your secret sales force. More than just being satisfied with doing business with you, those who provide you with testimonials are people who want to see you succeed. By collecting and sharing with others all the great things your customers have to say about their experiences dealing with you and your organization, you create a magnet that helps attract more of those ideal, targeted customers you want to work with. The pull of that magnet becomes more and more powerful with every testimonial that you obtain and share.

Another of the many great benefits of testimonials is that that encourage people in your list of targeted prospects to come to you already interested in you, your product or your services. That translates into fewer sales objections, meaning that you'll spend less time struggling to land that prospect or negotiating on price, and more time listening to the needs of your new customer (plus responding to those needs).

Despite these compelling benefits, this highly potent sales force remains underused by businesses today. In fact, Bane & Company did a survey in 2007 and found that 87% of satisfied customers want to help sell others on the businesses worked with, and yet only 7% of those businesses took the time to ask for that help. Astonishing, isn't it?

Don't become another statistic! Get testimonials working for you and unleash this massive group of people who are hungry to help you succeed and who resonate well with your clients.

The unsalesy way of selling.

Here at Engage, we place a lot of emphasis on collecting and using testimonials, particularly for those who are individual consultants, speakers, trainers or small-business owners. These are people whose livelihood depends on having a steady stream of new customers, but generally don't have the budget to go out and hire a professional sales force.

Many people in this position attend my sales training seminars and will say to me: "Colleen, I know it's part of my job, but I just really don't enjoy selling." Usually what they're really getting at is that they don't like to appear, for want of a better word, salesy, which to their way of thinking is equivalent to being inauthentic in the eyes of their prospects and customers. Testimonials can really help those who struggle with this, because it means you can let the words of your most satisfied customers do almost all of the talking. That's why I refer to this as the non-salesy way to sell. When you give prospects testimonials to consider, what you're really saying is: "hey don't just take my word for it, have a look at what others have to say about my products/services."

Testimonials also serve as a way of recommending your services to others—and that's absolutely vital. Consider the evidence: recommendations from peers was recently cited as the number-one decision making criteria according to Nielsen Research. Yahoo tells us that 87% of people believe the reviews that they see on websites. On the other hand, Saga Research suggests that as few as 10% of people believe what they read in conventional business-to-consumer marketing products. So it's in your interest to find ways to go beyond the promises and to provide proof to support what you are saying about yourself and your work. When you're successful at this, you build a bridge of trust with your customers—one that's made to last for the long term.

Engage is here to help!

Help send your sales skyward this year. Find out more today about TestimonialDirector, by Engage Selling Solutions. This online resource offers you the tools to collect, manage, publish and target your testimonials in a manner that can increase revenue, help you reclaim your free time and elevate your intelligence on customer trends and responses. Sign up today!

Click here to go to the next in this five-part series.

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Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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