“Change Happens” is a great saying.  Substitute anything else you’d like for ‘change’, but it does happen.  And growth accompanies it.  Usually.  Your business is no exception.

Feedback Makes You MORE Remark-able and Refer-able
Problem is . . . we don’t invite feedback about what we might want to change.  Not often enough.  Not from our clients.  But they know us best.  Right?  So invite feedback –– not to beat yourself up, but to make yourself and your business as competitive as possible!

So Question #3 is:  “WHAT would you change about our business . . . and, WHY?”
Listen closely.  You’ll hear opportunities to be even more remarkable than you are now.

Learning WHAT your best clients would change and WHY will keep you competitive, remarkable and very referable, too.

Testimonials vs. Referrals
Testimonials are endorsements that address ‘obstacles’ that can keep a prospective client from taking a ‘Next Step’ with you.  That’s why you collect and use testimonials –– to address obstacles to taking action by a prospect for your services.

Referrals are endorsements that position you as a PREFERRED PROVIDER of your services relative to other firms or providers in your field or marketing area. The referror’s endorsement of you makes selling your services much, much easier than if you meet prospects through other means.

Remark-ability is THE key to Refer-ability
In The Referral Machine™ — a program I offer, we contend that to be refer-able you must also be remark-able. Meaning?  People won’t refer TO you if they don’t think much OF you.

A Remark-able Experience is an Aligned Experience
When the experience you offer aligns with the expectations (or, exceeds them) of your Ideal Client, you have a competitive edge, marketing-wise.  So how do you learn what makes you remark-able?  ASK your clients.  Your best clients.  The ones who’ve already voted for you with their money.

In the next posts, I’ll show you precisely how to learn the basis of your remarkability (and, referability) by asking a few select questions of your best clients.  Stay tuned!

By now you’ve learned what you need for an effective testimonial:
1.  OBSTACLE . . . that prevented action with you in the first place
2.  RESULT . . . enjoyed as a result of actually using your service/s
3.  KEY ELEMENT . . . that produced the result enjoyed
4.  KEY BENEFIT  . . . your service produced for your client
5.  ADDITIONAL BENEFITS . . . easier once the first one is defined

So your last question, “Is there anything else you’d like to say?” may (or, may not) provide something new.  But, you never know until you ask!

I interview people for articles I write and I like to use a similar question after I’m ready to stop.  Funny, but simply asking, “Anything I did NOT ask that you’d like to address?” often generates some of the best parts of my interviews.  Not always, of course.  But often enough that I’ve trained myself to pose that question to someone I’m interviewing.

When you think you’re ‘all set’, remember to pose this final (and sometimes very revealing!) question

Now you’re at the point where you want to ask a client a very important question:  “Would you recommend me to others?”

This goes far beyond the benefit of being able to say, “97% of our clients recommend us” — good as that is.  Here’s what’s going on.

Psychological Integrity
When someone agrees they would recommend your services, they are compelled psychologically to ‘defend’ their recommendation.  If they aren’t willing to do that, they probably won’t recommend you in the first place.

So, a client is willing to recommend you?  Congratulations!  Now, ask them, ‘Why?”

That requires them to justify their position. It also commits them to uphold their decision to recommend your services. This means that, when someone asks, they’ll feel compelled to vigorously defend their recommendation.  That’s very powerful.  And, very good.  For you.

Getting a recommendation is great news.  Asking a client “WHY?” is even better!

Alright.  You’ve now found a major OBSTACLE, a BENEFIT that outweighed it, as well as a single FACTOR that produced it.  Now what?  Go for more!  Focusing on one factor effectively ‘primed’ your client’s mental pump.  Now it’s time to leverage that opportunity you’ve created.

“Besides the benefit you cited, what are 3 other BENEFITS that you’ve enjoyed by using my services?”

Here’s the logic.  It’s easier to expand on a single, specific benefit than it is to come up with 3 benefits ‘out of the blue’.  It’s about ASSOCIATION.  If someone says, “I find I’m getting to work faster and easier” it’s relatively easy to think of how that means that . . . “I get more work done now” or “It’s easier to get my boss to notice me” or “I’m less stressed when I get to work”.  See how a ‘root’ benefit naturally leads a client to see the implications of it?

Once you ‘uncork’ the benefit bottle, the contents (related benefits) will start to flow.

Leverage the initial benefit to learn new ones your service produces for your clients.

Once you know the OBSTACLE  to acting on your service and the BENEFIT gained once they did, you want to get specific.  You want to FOCUS on one aspect of the service or program or product you provided that really ‘stood out’ to your client.

Here then, is your third question.  “Was there ONE thing about my services that was really significant . . . that caused you to enjoy the benefit you just mentioned?”

By asking your client to focus on just one thing, you make it easier for them to provide you with a testimonial.

Too often we ask, “Why did you like . . . ?” and they don’t know where to begin!  It’s so easy to overwhelm someone.  Instead, ask your client to focus on ONE thing . . . ONE aspect or ONE feature of your service that they feel might be the basis for their getting the benefit they just mentioned to you in response to question #2.

Focus . . . is powerful.  Focus is also the key to discovering the basis for the benefit they’ve enjoyed from your services.

Once you know WHY someone might hesitate to use your services, you can address it. This is the real ‘acid test’ of any testimonial worth it’s salt — “Does it address (and thereby defuse / overcome) an obstacle that could prevent a prospective client from taking action . . . with you?”

So here’s the next question you want to ask a client who’s been happy with your services. “Tell me, what did you actually gain as a result of using my services?”

LISTEN!  You’ll learn what your services did that, in the end, addressed your client’s concern (the obstacle to action). Knowing the benefit of your service that addressed the obstacle clients had to overcome to use your services will make it easier for you to provide ‘Obstacle-specific and relevant’ testimonials to future prospective clients for your services.

Now, when you hear or sense why someone is hesitant to move forward with you, you can provide a relevant testimonial that will (of course) address, defuse and overcome the specific basis for their hesitancy. That’s powerful!

Testimonials that address the concerns your prospects have with specificity and relevance are most effective.

Most of us are influenced by what other people do and say. Social psychologists call it ‘normative referencing’.  We want to be part of the ‘crowd’ and that means ‘listening’ to what others say, do, feel, think, believe.  Social is our nature.

It’s also why testimonials are so effective. As a marketer, what you tell me about yourself is inherently suspect.  You’re biased. That’s expected.

What’s better?  Comments from a credible source.  Your clients.  Normally, unlike our friend here, they have nothing to gain financially from endorsing your services.  And, if a client ‘looks like me’, then their words about you and your services have more potency for me.

Is there a key to a good testimonial? Good question.  Actually, there are several!

In the next few days, I’ll share what makes a testimonial effective and how to co-create good ones with your clients.

Testimonials reduce buying resistance but there’s an artform to generating effective ones!

Many business owners tell me they feel they’re wasting their time, money and attention on people who are not giving back ‘in kind’

Can you relate?  Ever feel you’re wasting your attention and affection on prospects, clients and centers-of-influence who just aren’t making it worth your while to cultivate a relationship with them?

Two Keys to ‘Green Light’ relationships.

BUY . . .”Can someone BUY what you offer?”
REFER . . . “Can someone REFER others who can or will?”

If someone can not or will not buy from you or refer others to you (or, for you) . . . they don’t belong in your Client Development System.  Period.  Someone may be a wonderful human being in every way, but . . . if they can’t add to your key business outcomes, they don’t belong in your system.  And, if they aren’t ‘in’ your client development system, they won’t be wasting your time, money and energy . . . will they?

STOP chasing unqualified individuals and GO after people who can add to your business’ bottom line.

A client begins with a lead.  It may be ‘hot’ or, not.  It may be ‘qualified’ or, not.
Leads come from 3 primary marketing activities:  Advertising, Public Relations and Referrals.

Activity #3:  Referrals / Word-of-Mouth
Ask any service provider, “What’s your BEST source of of new clients?” They’ll say, “Referrals”.  Then ask them, “Are you getting enough referrals?” They’ll say, “Not really”.  Confusing, isn’t it?

Ironically, the best way to generate new client opportunities is not as productive as most providers would like. Here are two good reasons why this is so:

Factor 1: you have NO SYSTEM
Referrals don’t happen by accident.  They happen by design.  And having a ‘plan’ to generate referrals is essential.

Factor 2: you are NOT USING IT
Not having a referral system is one thing.  Not using it is another.  Often, this suggests a non-supportive attitude on the part of anyone who is expected to use your referral system.  If this is so, some form of attitude-adjustment may be required.

Generating referrals requires both a PLAN and an ATTITUDE that supports using it.