One tool every manager should include in his or her sales arsenal is the client testimonial. During my first market trip to Greece for consulting an LPG client in April, my final task for the sales department was to have them put together some video testimonials.The staff's response to this challenge was less than spectacular: "Can't be done," they told me. "It won't work here in Greece - our clients are different then they are in the States. Who's going to videotape them?"
There were many more objections, each giving the impression of an impossible task. The responses were not that different from those that sales departments in the U.S. offer as excuses to why videotaping clients can't be done - or excuses against any other form of testimonial, written or audio.
I told Afroditi, the sales manager for STAR FM in Thessaloniki, that she could accomplish testimonials if she followed a typical procedure:
- Identify 10 target clients who have been on the station(s) for six months or more.
- Have sales reps visit the target accounts in person to ask for a testimonial and explain the purpose, which is to help sell prospects on the value and results of running on the radio station.
- Once the client approves, take a digital video camera to the location of the business and tape the client's testimonial.
Ask two questions, and let the camera roll. The questions are: 1) "What would you tell other businesses about advertising on STAR FM?" and 2) "Specifically, what results have you received by advertising on STAR FM?" You want to get very specific answers here, with such responses as "Over the past year, we have increased our customer count by 20 percent since advertising on STAR FM." Avoid generics:
"We love advertising on the station, and things are great when we run commercials."
- Hire a professional videographer (or find someone at the station with video experience) to weave and splice the tape into a clip about 60-75 seconds long. If applicable, you want to show video of the business as well as the owner.
The goal is to get four or five (or more) testimonials from different categories of businesses. Load the testimonials in the reps' laptops, or have one or two laptops available for reps to take for presentations. After reps present their creative campaigns and during closing presentations, the reps show the testimonial(s).
After four weeks, the sales reps in Greece still did not believe they could get their clients to do testimonials. I asked the sales manager to press ahead to get one, just to show them that it could be done.Thanasis, the top biller on the staff, took the lead and got two.The rest is history; each rep obtained two video testimonials - the station now has eight - and that's just the start. Once Thanasis did his, the others saw its impact.They also discovered that the clients were excited about being taped.
If you need an incentive to get clients to do this, you can offer restaurant gift certificates or other such rewards for the clients who do the testimonials.
STAR FM didn't have to offer anything, because the clients gladly agreed. In consequence, the closing ratio of the sales department has risen 100 percent, from a closing ratio of 2 out of 10 to 4 out of 10.
Remember, prospects buy on emotion and then back it up with logic. Testimonials incite the emotion of the presentation as the client can visualize success, and most prospects want to duplicate the success of other well-run businesses in your market. Nothing is more powerful than having successful clients who advertise on your station(s) close your prospects.