- Strive for an abundance of testimonials. A buyer will expect that there are some people who will say good things about your business, so while providing 5-6 testimonials will be positive, providing 50 or 100+ glowing testimonials will give a buyer much greater confidence.
- Testimonials should provide praise about specific strengths of the business rather than general platitudes.
- Ideally testimonials should indicate a desire to do more business with the company or include a promise to make referrals.
- Good testimonials should state what product or service the business provided to the customer and how they use it.
- Testimonials should be from a variety of different points in time from the business’ history. Testimonials from different points in time demonstrate that you have a history of satisfied customers, rather than having performed well just at certain points in time. This also prevents suspicion that a business owner actively solicited testimonials for a short period of time.
- The testimonial shouldn’t focus entirely on how well one particular employee, or worse, yet, how well the owner performed, but rather on how well the company performed. While it is always a nice ego boost to receive personal praise in a testimonial, a business buyer is acquiring a system, and you don’t want the buyer to be concerned that the success of the business revolves around the owner or a key employee. If you get enough testimonials that praise a variety of employees it will demonstrate that you have done a good job of hiring good employees and training them well. However, if your name (or a key employee) is repeatedly the focus of praise in the testimonial letters, a buyer will wonder if the success you have experienced is based on your individual skill set, personality, and relationships rather than the business itself, and will be concerned that business performance will decline when you leave.
- Consider video testimonials. Seeing satisfied customers talk about their experience is often more powerful than written testimonials. If you or your staff have customers sharing positive feedback, consider asking them if they would mind repeating what they have said on a video testimonial. It doesn't need to be a professionally shot video. Simply pull out your iPhone and film them on the spot.
- Ask customers for testimonials. Consider creating a system to proactively ask customers for testimonials, and also suggest the format of the testimonial. For example, "Thanks for your business. We strive to provide exceptional service. Would you be willing to write a testimonial for us that we could share with other prospective customers? It would be ideal if it could include what product/service you bought, how that's of benefit to you, what specifically we did well, and whether you intend to do business with us in the future and/or refer other customers to us, and why."
Following these tips can provide a simple way to proactively influence the perceptions of value and marketability of your business.