Everybody likes testimonials. But what are they really for?
A testimonial’s number one job is to help you help you sell. A good testimonial shows that your product made somebody else happy: by generating money, saving money, or taking care of some other need that they thought was important. A good testimonial shows how you’re different from your competition. A good testimonial from a credible customer shows that you’re a company that smart people are happy to hire. All of these things help you sell. And all of these things can help you sell at a higher price.
More subtly, a testimonial strengthens the relationship between you and your customer. In a good relationship, both sides like to help each other. And a testimonial is an opportunity for your customer to do something nice for you. In the process, your customer may begin to hold you in even greater esteem, as they realize just how many ways you’ve helped them. “Gee, I’d forgotten how good it was to get X product or Y service from you folks. Thanks!” And by formalizing their praise in a public way, they strengthen their commitment to working with you.
Meanwhile, as you ask for and receive a few words of praise, you’re taking an honest look at the value you’re providing to your customer — finding out what’s really great, and forcing some honesty about what you might not have delivered. And lastly, you’re giving your customer an important opportunity to be heard — not only by you, but also by everyone you’re going to share their words with.