6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials

image of two women in masks

This is the second and final installment of The Secret Life of Testimonials.

Most of us ask for testimonials. And if we follow up and pester our customers enough, we get testimonials.

There’s only one problem. Our testimonials have no power.

Testimonials are stories. And stories have power and grace, flow and rhythm. Look around you and you’ll see none of that in most testimonials.

Limp testimonials are a fact of life, because clients don’t know how to give testimonials. But more importantly, because we don’t have a clue about how to ask for testimonials.

As I mentioned last week, the way to ask for testimonials is to use six key questions.

The six questions you need to ask to get a powerful testimonial are:

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What would be three other benefits about this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Some folks may use slightly different terms for #1, like “What was your main concern about buying this product?”

You can slightly amend this question, but don’t stray too much away from it, because it’s critical to bringing out the objection and the reason why this customer (and others) may have been hesitating to buy.

A more detailed explanation of each of the six questions:

1) What was the obstacle in your mind that would have prevented you from buying this product?

We ask this question because the customer always has a perception of an obstacle. No matter how ready the customer is to buy, there’s always a hitch. The hitch could be money, or time, or availability, or relevance — or a whole bunch of issues.

When you ask this question, it brings out those issues. And it does something more. It gives you an insight into issues you may not have considered, because the client is now reaching into their memory to see what could have been the deal-breaker.

There’s always an obstacle, and it’s often something you may not have thought of. So when the customer brings up this obstacle, it presents an angle that’s unique, personal, and dramatic.

2) What did you find as a result of buying this product?

This question is important, because it defuses that obstacle. When a client answers this question, they talk about why the purchase was worth it, despite the obvious obstacles.

3) What specific feature did you like most about this product?

Now you’re digging deeper.

If you ask the customer to focus on the entire product, the answer gets “waffly.” That’s why you want to focus on a single feature or benefit that the customer liked most. This brings out that one feature in explicit richness and detail.

4) What would be three other benefits of this product?

Having already got one big feature, you can now go a little wide and see what else the customer found useful.

You can substitute the number “three” with “two.” You could even remove the number completely. But the number does make it easier for your customer to address the question. It lets her focus on a limited number of things and give you the ones that were most useful to her.

5) Would you recommend this product? If so, why?

You may not think this is an important question, but psychologically it’s very important. When a customer recommends something, there’s more than your product at stake. The customer’s integrity is at stake too.

Unless the customer feels strongly about the product, they won’t be keen to recommend it. And when they do recommend it, they’re saying to prospective buyers: “Hey, I recommend it, and here are the reasons!”

6) Is there anything you’d like to add?

By this point, the customer has often said all she has to say. But there’s never any harm in asking this question.

The questions before this one tend to “warm up” the customer, and sometimes you get the most amazing parting statements that you could never have imagined.

Using testimonials to find and address objections

This detailed method of constructing testimonials brings us to a very interesting observation: the testimonial is the flip side of the objection.

Notice the first question we asked the customer?

What was the obstacle in your mind that would have prevented you from buying this product?

That “obstacle” the customer is talking about is really their biggest objection.

So what does this tell us about how we should plan our testimonials?

We should plan our testimonials to directly defuse each objection

Let’s say you’re keen to sell a trip to the wildlife on the Galápagos Islands.

Obviously, the trip is an exciting idea for travelers seeking to explore the wildlife on the islands. But even thrill seekers will most certainly have their objections. So if you did your homework and interviewed the potential customer you’d get objections such as:

  1. It’s too expensive
  2. It’s too far to travel
  3. There are no comfortable accommodations

Now let’s assume these are the three main objections

What are the testimonials going to say?

  1. I thought it was too expensive, but (here’s what I found)
  2. I thought it was too far to travel, but (here’s what I found)
  3. I thought we’d have to rough it out, but (here’s what I found)

Each testimonial is a mirror image of the objection

Sure you have already addressed objections earlier in your sales copy, but this defusing is now being done by the customer, who is a third party. And you know what that means, right?

A third party is always far more believable to your prospective customers. And because each testimonial is specifically linked to an objection, it systematically reduces the risk not once, but twice.

But how do you go about controlling the angle of the testimonial?

You may want the customer to talk about expense, or distance travelled, or relevance. But the customer may want to talk about her fear of seasickness, or dangerous animals. So how do you control the angle?

You don’t.

You’re in the business of helping to construct the testimonial. This means you’re asking questions that give the testimonial structure. You don’t need to control the situation.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t influence things. Here’s how you go about attempting to get the angle you desire.

Start with the key objections you need to address

Call up the customer. Ask the customer if expense, or distance, or comfort was one of their big issues.

If they say yes, continue down that track, and they’ll give you the specifics of why expense or distance or comfortable accommodation was an issue.

But if they disagree, and come up with a completely different issue, for example they say, “I thought the bad weather was going to be a dampener,” then hey, keep following that customer’s train of thought.

Because that train of thought is now revealing an objection you hadn’t considered. And it may be a valid objection that just hasn’t come to your attention yet.

However, you may decide that the stray objection isn’t worth pursuing. And that you can’t use the objection and corresponding testimonial. Well, no problem. If you decide you can’t use the testimonial, you can always call other clients to get the angle you’re looking for.

Sooner rather than later, you’re going to get the exact objections, and the exact testimonials, that help to defuse those key objections.

Which means that the testimonial isn’t something we just throw into our marketing. It means the testimonial is doing some real grunt-work in overcoming objections.

The factor that makes the testimonial so much more powerful is that it’s doing so from a “third party” perspective, and doing it in a way that you as the seller could never do.

You could never bring out the detailed specifics that a client brings out

You could never paint the imagery and the emotion. And even if you could, it would sound like a whole lot of puffery. But when the client comes up with all that detail and emotion, the testimonial becomes rich, complex, and yet believable. And that’s the main job of the testimonial.

Please try the six questions out for yourself! And let us know how you do with them in the comments.

By the way, if you missed the first post on testimonials, you can find it here: The Secret Life of Testimonials

About the Author: Sean D’Souza offers a free report on ‘Why Headlines Fail’ when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Be sure to check out his blog, too.

An editorial P.S.

Hi all, this is Sonia, intruding on Sean’s post for a moment if I may.

When Sean sent me this pair of posts, he was also kind enough to include a review copy of his new product, The Secret Life of Testimonials.

This pair of posts in and of themselves will get you remarkable testimonials. So the first thing I’d like to suggest is that you contact some happy customers today and use the techniques he’s taught you to boost the power of your testimonials. I think you’re going to be impressed with the results.

But if you want to make your testimonials even more effective, I can wholeheartedly recommend The Secret Life of Testimonials. That’s an affiliate link, so if you decide to invest in his program, we’ll earn a few dollars. But I’m quite confident that you’ll make much more than that by putting Sean’s teaching into place. It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I’m not easily impressed. :)

Testimonials are both one of the most important pieces of your marketing message and one of the biggest stumbling blocks for many of us. Having a well-thought-out system can make all the difference for you. I hope you’ll at least go check out the details for yourself.

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Comments

  1. Hey Sean,

    This is an amazing post! Thanks for sharing this information. As a business owner, I can apply this ASAP!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  2. I bought “The Secret Life of Testimonials” a few weeks ago. It’s a great ebook — I already used it to solicit several LinkedIn recommendations, and I used Sean’s framework to write testimonials for others. Totally worth the $45.95.

  3. These work fine in reference to products, but what about questions that relate to services? One of my clients is a business consultant, so he doesn’t sell products. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Dawn,

      I’ve just come across this great post, and have immediately created a survey form through SurveyMonkey to ask recent clients for their testimonials.

      One of my first queries was the same as yours – I offer services, not products. But that’s ok – it’s just a matter of re-wording the questions a bit, eg what specific feature did you like most about our service?

      My next question is how do we ‘compile’ those answers into a usable, effective testimonial?

      Cheers
      Jacob

  4. This is the best thought out strategy for obtaining testimonials that I have ever read.

    That it manages to also act as research to find out more about customers’ thinking is a real bonus.

    Thank you.

  5. Hi Sean,

    6 questions is too many. Keep it to 3.

    The exception is if you have an established relationship with the client and they’re willing to go the extra year for you OR…

    if you and the client are writing testimonials that jointly promote each other. You see this all the time on the web when Blogger 1 ‘recommends’ Blogger 2 who in turn bigs up Blogger 1 and so on.

  6. Sean;
    Really enjoyed these two articles! I’ve just recently begun working on getting testimonials and was THRILLED to see the 6 questions to help me with some structure (and help clients know what to say!). Thanks for the tips! :)

  7. Finally! This is the best outline for helping customers write a testimonial that I have ever seen. Great work Sean. You product looks good as well.

    Since I love putting in my two-cents, the only thing that I would add is a #7 that helps lock up the sale months later, and prevents returns… which would be

    “Now that you have used it for awhile, what one thing does this product do, that no other like-product can?”

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  8. @Dawn, the process is totally identical for services. In fact, Sean originally wrote this as “product/service,” but it kept messing up my formatting. Just swap the word out.

  9. Sean,

    Thank you for providing valuable information to use in getting testimonials. I am a consultant and my main focus is helping small businesses get more customers through social media marketing. I can see how this format has tremendous potential for selling both products and professional services.

  10. Great series! What I have done is really try to focus on Linkedin for example. It doesn’t guarantee the great story (weakness) but still proof that there is an actual person behind the testimonial vs (Ray S from Florida) crap which by the way many are still doing.

    Oh another related note HOT girls on the pic yeahh baby love the girls LOL :) I used to work in New Orleans (radio) having flash backs!

  11. Great information. Now, I need to shift this information to adapt to the fiction-selling business. Thanks.

  12. Excellent stuff – I’m not surprised.

    Since my clients hire me to write I often quiz them in a similar fashion and then write a draft for them. They seem to appreciate it and often make it way better than I have.

  13. One thing I really like about Sean’s process is that it’s so step-by-step that you can very readily hand it off to an assistant or partner. (He talks more about that in the paid version.) It feels kind of weird and awkward to ask your clients how they feel about you, but it’s much easier if a third party is doing it. Plus, if my assistant handles it, it, um, gets done.

  14. @Karl Sakas: Thanks. I enjoyed writing the book. I was frankly surprised that it ended up with as much detail. I thought I’d run out of information long before. :)

  15. @Dawn: Several thousands of our clients sell services alone. And so do we at Psychotactics. The process works, because of the way a human being thinks. There’s a before/after/salient point/salient points/oh one more thing.

    The testimonials you get are so long, rich and detailed that you no longer have a testimonial, you have an experience. There are emotions, objections, overcoming of objections and frustration with previous vendors/services.

    Try asking the six questions. We’ve been using this system since 2004, and if you go to Psychotactics, you’ll find not only do we use it but our clients use it to get amazing results. Um, of course everyone doesn’t believe you get amazing results and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    But the pudding exists.
    And the pudding-eaters exist.
    It works.

    It works for services.
    It works for training/workshops
    It works for products.

    And it works because we all go through that sequence. e.g. I wanted to buy into your “(insert services here) but….

    And that starts off the testimonial.
    I’ve cut and pasted a small part of a testimonial here because on our site it’s a mile-long :) You’ll see how it unfolds. (Note: I don’t do consulting any more, so it’s safe to say this is not a promo for my consulting below. But it’s still on our site).

    ==========
    Live Example: Excerpt out of a very lonnnnnng testimonial.

    “I didn’t set out to work with Psychotactics.

    In fact, for months I had been searching for services that would help our business. I found similar consultants, some of them even specialised in tourism. Yet none of them provided me with an iota of information. All I got was, ‘This is how much it is going to cost.’ And all of their sites were like online brochures.

    I was really looking for something that could help me. Now, it’s not like their services didn’t interest me. They had good testimonials and seemed to be reliable. But there was nothing in there that made me read the site or say, I can implement this right away or this is a good idea, whereas, with your site I was there for hours.

    In fact, once I read the first page, I was hooked….

  16. @ Leadership Coach

    That it manages to also act as research to find out more about customers’ thinking is a real bonus.

    Yes you hit on the “other side of the coin”. This experience is truly amazing. The testimonial may make you feel all fuzzy and happy, but it sends a chill down your spine when you realise how close you came to losing a customer, and what finally made the customer decide to go with you.

    Just yesterday a client wrote me a testimonial (yes, of course I asked the six questions—why wouldn’t I?) Is the testimonial usable as is? In this case it wasn’t and would need a bit of back and forth with the client. But the client specifically mentioned how they’d come very close to just ignoring us, and why (it had nothing to do with us) and this gave me a very important insight into how to send out our message via email in future.

    So yeah, getting warm and fuzzy is only half the deal. It’s well worth the process of understanding what’s going through the client’s brain. That’s a goldmine waiting to be tapped. And no matter how many testimonials you get, and how many insights, there’s always one more that makes you think…now why didn’t I think of that?

    The interesting part about this sequence is that if the client didn’t buy that service, they would not have bought the next one. And believe me, it’s hard enough to get a client, but you really want to keep one. Thanks to the insight and the response, this client will not only stay with us, but his testimonial will help bring more clients just like him.

    Which is the ultimate goal of a testimonial: To get super-clients who love your work, respect you and are willing to pay the price you ask.

  17. @Ivan

    6 questions is too many. Keep it to 3.

    I would not recommend it. You’d only get a partial picture. See what I wrote in response to @leadershipcoach. It’s not just the warm fuzzies you’re looking for. You’re also looking to get clients who can lock into the very same emotion—but more importantly the 6 questions enable you to see how the client is thinking.

    Because the client is so ready to be part of the process, you should take advantage of asking the six questions. Over the phone this process takes no longer than about 8-10 minutes. And you get a testimonial of 1500 words or more. That’s rich data for you even if you never use the testimonial in your sales copy.

    Feel free to use just three out of six. I wouldn’t recommend it, because the process of asking six questions does a heck of a lot more than just get you a great testimonial.

    P.S. On another note: The longer the client engages with you, and the more they speak to you, the more they’re going to recommend your product/service. In fact there’s a whole study on just that phenomenon. So I’d say that at least in this case “less is not more.”

    Feel free to disagree with me, though :)

  18. Very interesting article.

    It was right on time for me because I am just now preparing to start pestering some of my customers from this last year for testimonials.

    I thought it was only fair to give them 6-12 months to try the product and then ask for the amazing health results that I know that most have gotten.

    For many, because I have been in constant contact with them through out this past year, I think I will phrase my questions differently. But for those with whom I have not had as much contact, I will pretty much use the suggestions in this article.

    Thanks again.

  19. Excellent tips, Sean! I especially like your suggestions about using testimonials to directly address the prospects’ objections.

    So many of us just slap testimonials on a page thinking that simply having them there will help make the sale.

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. I love this article and the questions are great. But here’s what I’m always confused about: If I ask 6 questions, I might get 6 sentences or small paragraphs that don’t really flow together— what’s the best practice for turning that into a great soundbite or cohesive quote that you can put next to someone’s picture on your website? I always hesitate to ask a lot of questions because I want the quote to “flow”, but then I know the testimonial wont be as powerful as it could be. Any advice?

  21. Great info, Sean.

    Now that I know exactly the steps to take when asking for testimonials, I’ll be using them more often in my business!

    Talk soon,

    Mike

  22. Hi Sean — brilliant methodology and outline , as usual. I recently spent some time examining the testimonials on your site, and doing some deep self-examination to come up with a remarkably similar list of questions for my own clients, after getting a one-line testimonial from an otherwise very happy client… :) I’m so happy to see your actual 6 questions, though, because the specificity and focus of the Q’s is key.

    Do you think adding another question would be too many? For instance, I had created this question: “What has been a major challenge for you in establishing your online presence?”

    I’m just concerned that sending clients too many questions in a testimonial request can be off-putting – although I haven’t yet done a phone call for testimonials… perhaps that’s the true magic bullet.

  23. Saw psychotactics web site. Love your dissection of buyer’s subconscious. Standouts: “See the Forest for the Threes” wordplay (ref. Power of 3 to Improve communications” article). Awesome. Also liked “Power of “Why” piece. Even more powerful question than “why,” in my opinion: “Who cares?” The best reads tend to be about stuff everyone thinks about, just can’t articulate, really. You did it!

  24. p.s. just wanted to say that using the information i’ve gleaned from you in the past has definitely resulted in one of the best testimonials i’ve ever received (just reviewed it now, it actually scared me with its awesomeness, and i had delayed adding it until just now).

    – looking forward to seeing the results from implementing what i’ve learned from your further refinements … cheers–

  25. I love this article and the questions are great. But here’s what I’m always confused about: If I ask 6 questions, I might get 6 sentences or small paragraphs that don’t really flow together— what’s the best practice for turning that into a great soundbite or cohesive quote that you can put next to someone’s picture on your website? I always hesitate to ask a lot of questions because I want the quote to “flow”, but then I know the testimonial wont be as powerful as it could be. Any advice?

    One of the key techniques is to make sure that you set the expectations of the customers in advance. A lot of customers may think they need to be short or terse with their comments. You need to say: You can keep your answer as long as possible. That statement alone gets the customer relaxed and gives them the “idea” that you’d love a longer answer. And most (not all) will willingly oblige.

    Email may prove to get shorter answers, though I’ve personally got long answers via email (as well as very short, almost unusable answers). The method that works the best is via phone/Skype and you recording the call. Of course the customer needs to know you’re recording the call, and after a brief discomfort (because you’re recording) they’ll settle right into answering your questions in immense detail.

    Believe me—your problem will be the reverse of a short testimonial. You’ll have such a long testimonial and so much detail that you’ll be gobsmacked (that’s a Kiwi word for yippeeyahooeywowIcan’tbelieveit).

    :)

    • Pretty late in the day to be asking questions in this thread but as they say, if you don’t as you won’t ever get. So here I go.

      On testimonials I have heard that it is better to let the client speak out in his/her own voice instead of you polishing it and making it look like copy. But if the testimonial is too long and I don’t want to be gobsmacked (no one does) I suppose I will have to take the editor’s scissors and do some chopping.

      So the challenge is, how to keep long testimonials short and at the same time preserve the original voice of the client. Or, in geek speak, how do I do lossless compression? Any algorithms? :)

  26. Do you think adding another question would be too many? For instance, I had created this question: “What has been a major challenge for you in establishing your online presence?”

    I’m just concerned that sending clients too many questions in a testimonial request can be off-putting – although I haven’t yet done a phone call for testimonials… perhaps that’s the true magic bullet.

    That question may help (depending on the situation—your specific situation). I would ask that as a separate question, almost like a P.S. so that the call is done, and then you’re almost having a conversation. I don’t think it would quite fit in the six questions for a testimonial.

  27. Great article, Sean. Love this blog – so much useful information. But I find that a third party – an experienced interviewer – can get you far, far better (and more authentic) quotes than you can get for yourself. Here’s my reasoning: http://www.allisonbliss.com/newsletter/archives/positioning-ultimate-marketing-technique.htm

  28. Thanks for this Sean. I’ve put it in my ‘important bookmarks’ file for when I get my own products up and running. Genuine testimonials presented properly are powerful decision-making nudgers, that’s for sure. They certainly work on me.

  29. Very useful post. I am scheduled to shoot a video of a client’s testimonial tomorrow. Asking the six questions will make it easier for the client to tape a concise testimonial.

  30. What a great post! i have printed it out and am keeping it on my desk for reference. Thank you!

  31. Nice article.. I will find the problem when I want to produce future products, but after reading this article at least I can know how to handle it, Thank you.

  32. I like this post, Sean. I like how you drill down on why these questions are so important and why asking them in this order is vital. As a B2B marketer who has gathered many testimonials over the years, I’ve always found that a good question to ask is ‘if you were talking to another ________ (IT professional, landscape contractor, attorney, etc.) what would you tell them about Product X?’ This may be viewed as a variation of question 5, but I’ve found it to produce some very compelling content.

  33. Thanks Sean — great suggestion! :)
    – cheers

  34. Testimonials are a good way to really get an idea of what products people liked and exactly what about those specific products people liked. Heck, you can do a lot with testimonials besides products also.

  35. Hi Sean,
    Regarding the point, ‘Because the client is so ready to be part of the process…’

    Most of my clients are time poor, especially at a C level, and won’t respond to 6 questions. No way. They’re under huge time constraints and don’t have time for this.

    I guess this begs the question about your target audience.

    Who are you targeting? The higher you go, the harder it is to get past the EA etc.

    ‘Hi there, I want to ask the CIO six questions…’
    Don’t think so!

    I hear what you say about getting a more rounded picture that you can then expand upon, but that’s on the condition that they play ball in the first place.

    Maybe you have wonderful clients. Fancy swapping a few :)

  36. Hi Sean,

    This is a great approach to testimonials. It mirrors the questions I ask when doing case study interviews. (And the results yield great fodder for both testimonials and case studies.)

    If you have a complex product or service, you might consider asking about delivery/implementation. This is often a key objection that lurks in the sales process.

    For example, “I thought the implementation would be difficult and take a ton of my time, but the great group at ABC Company made it easy.”

    Statements like these diffuse worries about the delivery/implementation aspect of complex products and services. And give a great opportunity to showcase customer service skills and a customer-centric approach.

  37. I’m a big fan of your work, Sean. In fact, I refer often to your “Why Headlines Fail” ebook when creating blog post titles, etc.

    This series about testimonials is powerful. I particularly enjoyed the point that if we try to control the testimonial, we might end up with a false positive. Instead, we should encourage a candid response — one that will be truly helpful to us and our future customers.

  38. I like this post, Sean. I like how you drill down on why these questions are so important and why asking them in this order is vital. As a B2B marketer who has gathered many testimonials over the years, I’ve always found that a good question to ask is ‘if you were talking to another ________ (IT professional, landscape contractor, attorney, etc.) what would you tell them about Product X?’ This may be viewed as a variation of question 5, but I’ve found it to produce some very compelling content.

    You’re right. The answer would be compellingly different.

  39. Hi Sean,
    Regarding the point, ‘Because the client is so ready to be part of the process…’

    Most of my clients are time poor, especially at a C level, and won’t respond to 6 questions. No way. They’re under huge time constraints and don’t have time for this.

    I guess this begs the question about your target audience.

    Who are you targeting? The higher you go, the harder it is to get past the EA etc.

    ‘Hi there, I want to ask the CIO six questions…’
    Don’t think so!

    I hear what you say about getting a more rounded picture that you can then expand upon, but that’s on the condition that they play ball in the first place.

    Maybe you have wonderful clients. Fancy swapping a few :)

    Incredible and ironical as it may sound…testimonials are the key to getting the clients you want. If you look at the headline on the sales page and the entire tone of the book I’ve written, it’s about “How testimonials help you get better clients”.

    Without the testimonials, it’s hard to attract clients that you deserve. Or rather testimonials from “difficult” clients get you difficult clients in future. And testimonials from “clients that you love” are going to get you “clients that you love”.

    Our clients are wonderful, because they’re drawn to a message. That message is located in the testimonial. Just as a testimonial draws clients, it also repels clients.

    Which is good for us (and will be good for you too) because you don’t have to muck around with clients who you don’t want in the first place.

  40. This series about testimonials is powerful. I particularly enjoyed the point that if we try to control the testimonial, we might end up with a false positive. Instead, we should encourage a candid response — one that will be truly helpful to us and our future customers.

    That’s correct.

    The candid response has a great depth of emotion, jargon, phraseology etc. that may not appear outstanding to you, but will definitely appeal to your future customer.

    The mistake we all make is we think “we are our customer”.

    You are not your customer.

  41. Hi Sean,

    This is just what I needed. Last month I asked for testimonials and what I got back was… well crap. Nothing I can really use.

    I was just thinking last week that I needed to make the request more specific, but wasn’t sure exactly how. This is perfect.

    Thank you!
    Susanna Hess

  42. I wrote a testimonial for someone’s health & wellness product recently. It was the first one I’ve ever written and, if these questions had been provided to me beforehand, it would have certainly made the task much easier from my perspective. 

    Even though I worked hard on producing a quality testimonial for that ebook author and believe he was happy with the results, I just emailed him a link to this article and asked if he’d like me to rewrite it using this system. Even if he says no, I plan to do it anyway and he can choose the one he likes best.     

    Excellent post!  

  43. Hi guys,

    Sean the most important one is #5. Because recommendations goes a long way.

    Kind regard,

    Sam
    X

  44. I agree with the idea of starting things off with an objection. Asking “what could have stopped you” is a good way of convincing potential customers of the soundness of the purchase, by showing how others had their fears allayed.

    However, I suspect that my bosses might think otherwise. In some industries, where negative PR flies high and wild, the mere idea of introducing a negative emotion is strongly opposed. Any ideas of how to pitch this to the higher ups?

  45. @Pete, that’ s a tricky one. I’ve encountered that as well. A lot of good persuasion is negative, but a lot of corporate folk are violently opposed to any negativity in corp comm. Which is one reason so much of it is so deathly dull.

    I was a complete failure at selling anything up the ladder (one big reason I left the corp environment), but you might try reading _Switch_ by Dan & Chip Heath. They talk quite a lot about how to effect change when you don’t have the power to dictate change, and they include some great “convincing the bosses” case studies.

    One thing I did see work from time to time — send articles like this one to the people who *do* have the power to dictate that change, and let them think that it was their idea.

  46. Yes, always make it seem like it’s their idea :) Corporate bigwigs want to take the credit for everything. So let them take the credit. It makes your work easier. ;)

  47. However your terminology also matters. If you call it “Negative” it won’t work with anyone let alone your bosses. If you say we’re finding the “BEFORE /AFTER story” they are quite interested, because they’re the “AFTER” part of things.

    Um, you may also get them to read The Brain Audit ;) :)

    I agree with the idea of starting things off with an objection. Asking “what could have stopped you” is a good way of convincing potential customers of the soundness of the purchase, by showing how others had their fears allayed.

    However, I suspect that my bosses might think otherwise. In some industries, where negative PR flies high and wild, the mere idea of introducing a negative emotion is strongly opposed. Any ideas of how to pitch this to the higher ups?

  48. Hard to say which is most important. Kinda like saying the “heart” is the most important part of your body. They all count to create a great testimonial.

    Sean the most important one is #5. Because recommendations goes a long way.

    Kind regard,

    Sam
    X

  49. This is perfect! I’ve been doing what everyone else is by just asking for and accepting whatever I get. Providing questions not only makes it a better testimonial for me but it probably makes it easier for the customer.

    Having testimonials that answer objections is genius!

  50. Yes, this is very interesting to those who need more information about what they want. Seven questions that we should prepare for them.

  51. It is a great idea to use this method and gives structure to their response.

  52. I like the idea behind giving them a structure to the testimonial, but wouldn’t this take away that personal touch that would come through from them free writing a testimonial?

  53. “Would you recommend this product? If so, why?” I think that is the most important question. Thank you for this article. It was informative.

  54. I loved the idea behind this article and the information is incredibly useful.

    What happens, though, if you are offering a service and that is the subject of your testimonial ? Because your questions are all about buying a product and I’d like to gather testimonials about what readers think of my site/content/design/ etc and what I can do to encourage more of them because traffic = advertisers

  55. Thank you. This is very helpful. I will read the first article too.

    I am printing this now. I should have done this long ago.

    jef menguin
    inspirational speaker, Philippines

  56. This is a really great article. It has helped me a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  57. What a great article and advice, however, if i ask these 6 questions and get the 6 replies, how do i post this onto my testimonial page, do i leave each paragraph as it is(how they have written it)? do i string it together myself, and if i do, do i have to reshow it to the client before posting… or do i just get the client to string it all together to make the one paragraph that gets posted on the testimonial page?

  58. I have the same question as Angel. I’ve received two great testimonials already so far, but they don’t really ‘flow’ that well. I posted a reply to someone earlier as well, not thinking to just ask down here :-)

  59. How could I structure the questions if I’m trying to make the testimonial about me and my service as a sales consultant? I’m technically not the product and they don’t pay for a service I provide. They just bought something from me. But I’d like a testimony about their experience working with me. It just sounds weird asking a customer “What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from working with Chris?” or “what would be three other benefits about working with Chris?”