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My Addicting Step-by-Step Process To Get Tons Of Glowing Testimonials From Your Freelance Clients

“There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.” ~Brian Koslow

We all know that testimonials are an important part of marketing. Humans are social animals and social proof is a powerful signal that can turn a prospect from a skeptic to an enthusiastic buyer.

The problem is that actually getting good testimonials is a pain, which is why a lot of freelancers don’t bother, or have really boring, vague testimonials to share.

Well, no more!

In this article, I’m going to give you my exact process to get great testimonials from your clients.

But more importantly, this method is easy, educational, and will be a serious confidence booster.

Actually, I’d go further than that.

This is addicting.

Do this a few times and you’ll be hooked, I guarantee.

What makes a great testimonial

Great testimonials are ones where prospects can see themselves in the shoes of the person who wrote the testimonial. The closer their situations and the more similar their problems-to-be-solved are, the better.

As a result, this means that great testimonials should be:

  • detailed about the person writing them,
  • the problems they were facing,
  • the doubts they had about buying,
  • and the outcome that they experienced.

This also means that great testimonials are often long.

For example, a mediocre testimonial for an accountant would be something like this:

“Tim did a great job setting up our accounting systems, which helped us improve our bottom line. I would highly recommend him.”

Compare that to this:

“I run a small marketing agency with 15 employees and our accounting systems were starting to fall apart at the seams.

We have a growing sales team that’s racking up a lot of travel expenses, and the different pricing models we offer have grown in number and complexity.

As a result, it was becoming increasingly difficult to get an idea of how the business was doing, how the money was flowing around, and where there was room for improvement.

When I first talked to Tim, I was blown away with the level of experience he had working with businesses just like ours. It was almost like he knew my frustrations before I voiced them.

Of course, I was nervous about the large financial investment involved in overhauling our accounting systems, but more than that, I was unsure of how the change would impact our day-to-day operations. Most of all, I wanted to get it right the first time so we wouldn’t have to go through this process again.

Tim answered all my questions in a very straightforward way and really put my mind at ease that the investment would be the best move we could make for the long-term health of the business.

Now six months after the transition, I can’t begin to describe the impact that his work has had on our firm. Not only do we have the ability to pull the kinds of reports we need, Tim’s guidance and counsel helped us find a number of areas that were costing us both financially and emotionally. Once we cleaned those up, the whole business seems to run twice as smoothly now as it did when our profits were much lower.

My whole team is in love with Tim for the hard work he put into putting our business on this solid foundation for growth.”

Ok, that’s obviously much longer, but that’s because we have a much clearer picture of who the buyer is, what problems she was facing, what her purchase hesitations were, and what the ultimate outcome was.

The wrong way to get testimonials

Most people who are faced with getting testimonials from clients do one of two things:

  1. They don’t (this was me for many years)
  2. At the end of the project, they send a tepid email with something like this:

Hi client,

I enjoyed working with you and I hope you feel the same. Would you mind writing up a testimonial for me?

Ryan

Snooze-fest.

The problem with this approach is that you generally get back a very vague, fluffy testimonial:

“Ryan was great to work with, and I’d highly recommend him to anyone considering hiring him!”

Ok, not terrible and I’ll take it, but…

It’s really not great, as we discussed above.

What’s worse is that often you won’t even get this much. People are busy and writing testimonials isn’t fun or easy, so it often falls through the cracks.

The dishonest way to get testimonials

Due to the difficulty of getting great testimonials out of clients (or getting any at all), I’ve heard marketers actually recommend writing your own testimonials and sending them to the client for approval.

This is flat out unethical, and there’s an easy way to tell: would you want your prospective clients to know that all your glowing testimonials came out of a process like this?

I don’t think so.

A better approach

A better approach is to go to the client with a list of questions about why they hired you, how the experience was, what the ultimate outcome of the project was, etc.

That’s much improved over the crappy email just asking for a testimonial, but we can still do better 🙂

My step-by-step method to get testimonials

Ok, an old-school management consultant taught me this method, and it works great.

Not only will you get great testimonials, you’ll walk away with a warm feeling in your heart.

Well, probably:

This only works with happy clients.

It probably goes without saying, but just to be clear, this method only results in great testimonials and feelings when the client was happy.

However, if you’ve had a falling-out with your client for whatever reason, you should still do this, but you’re looking for the education piece, not the testimonials.

So here we go:

Step 1: Email them at the end of the project and ask for a wrap-up call

I like to send something like:

Hi Dave,

Now that the project is coming to a close, I’d love to jump on a quick Skype call to go over a few questions and get some feedback on your experience.

Does Friday at 2pm work?

Thanks!

Ryan

Step 2: Ask to record the call

Don’t ask until you’re on the call!

Check it out:

Do the little opening to the call, chit-chat small-talk thing, then say something like:

“I’m always trying to improve the value that I add to my clients, so I just have a few questions for you to get some feedback. Would you mind if I record this call for my records?”

For whatever reason, I was nervous the first time I did this.

Don’t worry about it. Just ask calmly, like this is totally routine, boring almost. If they say they’d rather you didn’t, just say no problem, and continue with the rest of the steps.

In my experience, they’ll almost always give you permission.

Important: when they give you permission, don’t forget to hit record!

Step 3: Ask them these questions

Ok, now that the recording is rolling, we need to craft a great testimonial.

Remember how I said a great testimonial should have these elements:

  • detailed about the person writing them,
  • the problems they were facing,
  • the doubts they had about buying,
  • and the outcome that they experienced.

We’re going to parrot those back in question form.

There are a lot of different ways you can ask these questions, but here’s what I like to use:

  1. “Just as a refresher, tell me a little about the problems you were facing when we started working together.”
  2. “What made you hire me over any other consultants?”
  3. “Did you have any particular doubts or fears about us working together at the start of this project?”
  4. “During the course of the project, what did I do particularly well?”
  5. “What could have been improved?”
  6. “What has the outcome been of us working together?”
  7. “How would you describe me and what I do to a colleague?”

You can rework and reword these for your own style and situation.

Also note that you should have ideally asked 1-3 at the start of the project, but I’d ask them again here so you have them on the recording.

Thank them for their candid feedback, and then:

Step 4: Ask them if you can use their remarks in your marketing materials

They’ll say yes, I can almost guarantee.

Bonus Step 5: Ask them if they can think of two people right now that they could refer you to

You’ve just spent a lot of time talking about how awesome you are, what you excel at, etc, so the client is perfectly primed to be in the mood to think of others that could use your expertise. So just ask them!

In my experience, people often say “Let me think about it” and then forget once they’re off the call. You don’t want to be pushy here, of course, but if you can try to encourage them to take a minute right now to think of someone, that’s better.

Just say something like:

“Could you take a minute or two right now, before we get off the call, to think of a couple people you know that would be a good fit for my services?”

If they come up with anyone, ask for an intro once you’re off the call so they have the language they used previously fresh in their mind.

Success! You’ve now got tons of testimonial material (and more)

If you did the steps above correctly, you should have a recording of a client answering a bunch of questions about:

  • the exact problem they were facing
  • how you’re different from your competition
  • what you’re particularly good and bad at
  • how awesome you were to work with
  • how they would describe you to a colleague
  • what the results of your work means to their business

You’ve also go their permission to use all those words in your marketing materials.

However, you’ve also got three other things that I’ve found even more valuable than that:

1. The client took a few minutes to remind themselves how awesome you are

I know it may seem fluffy, but there’s a lot of upside in having people say nice things about you. It reinforces all those things in their own mind, which is great for your long-term relationship with this client.

2. The client told you what your positioning actually is

There’s pure gold in the answers to these questions:

  • “Why me and not another consultant?”
  • “What did I do particularly well?”
  • “How would you describe me to a colleague?”

The client is basically telling you exactly how your branding, marketing, and positioning are working for you, or not working for you.

This can be a little frustrating if the client tells you things that you don’t agree with or don’t want to hear, but if that’s what the market is hearing, you should pay attention.

Either you should change your positioning to match, or you should rethink how you’re trying to implement that positioning.

3. It will make you feel so good

This is where the addicting part comes in. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like having a client get on the phone and tell you in their own words how much they appreciate you.

Yes, you fished for these compliments, but still, it feels great 🙂 Even if you already believe you’re awesome, it’s still fun to hear!

I know, I’ve used this before, but it’s too perfect here

Try it a few times and tell me I’m wrong.


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