The Invitation To Buy Is Risky Business
Whenever you ask a prospective customer to buy from you, you’re asking them to take a risk. For the customer, the first purchase from an unknown vendor is a risk of finances, a risk of time, maybe even a risk of reputation.
As the perceived level of risk goes up, the chances of making the sale go down. For any business to prosper and attract new customers it needs to be very good at diffusing risk.
The Antidote To Buying Risk
Fortunately there is an antidote to risk. It’s brand credibility. If you’ve been running into risk resistance in selling to new prospects, it’s time to boost your brand’s credibility.
Many factors combine to determine your brand’s credibility, including how long you’ve been in business, the results you’ve created for clients, the business partners you’ve attracted, the quality and experience of your people and your reputation in the marketplace.
The Fastest Way to Boost Credibility
If you’re looking for the fastest and most powerful way to boost your credibility, harvest the value of the good work you’ve done in the past. Enlist the support of your client base. Collect quotes of clients saying good things about your company. Display the quotes on your website, in your brochures, even in your proposals.
People generally put more stock in a customer’s opinion than a vendor’s advertising claims. What you say can be dismissed as bragging. What your customers say is accepted as truth, as long as the quotes pass the genuine test.
Can You Pass the Genuine Test?
This is where many attempts to harvest customer comments fail miserably. All too often companies ghost write glowing testimonials for their customers to sign, but the end product comes across as contrived or coerced.
Prospects today don’t fall for manufactured testimonials that just sound like more brochure copy wrapped in quotation marks. They can sniff out a phony a mile away.
Customer quotes are powerful, but they have to be real.
So How Do You Get Genuine Customer Quotes?
Here’s what I’ve found over the years to be the most effective way to gather genuine customer quotes. In helping Identicor’s clients gather quotes from their customers I take the same interview approach that I used back in the days when I was a broadcast journalist.
The first step is research. I find out from my client how they have helped the customer. I put together a list of questions to draw out benefit-focused comments.
Make A Personal Connection
In the actual customer interview, the first priority is to set a friendly and personal tone. Interviews yield the best comments when the customer feels relaxed. I make a point of establishing some personal rapport with each customer before diving into the list of questions.
I use open ended questions to invite the customer to explore. I encourage them to express their personality rather than use their “just business” voice. When my client has informed me of hard dollar figure benefits the customer has realized, I prompt the customer to comment directly on the financial results.
Get The Exact Words
I record the interview on my trusty Olympus digital voice recorder. It’s vital to get the customer’s exact words, so that the quotes will be based on their actual comments and not an approximate memory of what they said.
Preserve The Customer’s Voice
Next I’ll have the interview transcribed so I can see the customer’s exact words on paper. I’ll edit the comments to produce concise potent quotes. I take extra care in keeping the customer’s own words and thought patterns intact to ensure the customer’s real voice comes through.
By following this reporter interview process I have collected extremely valuable quotes to boost my client’s brand credibility and sales efforts. In a recent assignment for a software company I conducted more than a dozen customer interviews at their users’ conference. The interviews yielded more than 100 powerful customer quotes including gems like these:
“Over the last 9 years, we have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to [insert Identicor’s client’s name here].”
“I think of my [insert Identicor’s client’s name here] system like an employee who is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and who doesn’t need benefits or an invitation to the Christmas party.”
With genuine customer quotes like these, brand credibility goes up and sales resistance goes down.
What customers will you interview in the next week to boost your brand’s credibility?