Learn three simple ways to get great client testimonials and what to ask so your testimonials tell stories and persuade prospective clients to hire you.
As you probably already know, selling to existing clients, customers, and raving fans is easy because they already know, like, and trust you. But what do you do when your prospect doesn’t know you yet and doesn’t have a relationship with your brand? How can you easily move them from prospect to buyer in a gentle, non-pushy, natural way?
You do it by including real, raw, honest testimonials and reviews on your website and in your marketing materials.
Testimonials are unbiased reviews and stories from past and current clients or customers that help prospects overcome fear and skepticism, establish trust and credibility, and build on emotions and feelings without being salesy. Customer reviews and client testimonials provide powerful social proof that puts new buyers at ease, positions purchasing as a smart idea, and helps convince prospects to become customers and clients.
You’ve seen social proof at work for years, in ads that say things like:
- 9/10 dentists agree…
- Join over 10,000 others…
- I approved this message…
- Trusted by [celebrity name]…
- 95% of moms choose…
When prospects are trying to decide whether or not to hire you, buy from you, or enroll in your course, they will have questions like:
- Can this person/agency really do what they say they can do?
- Am I going to get ripped off?
- Is this going to be worth the investment?
- Will I actually achieve my goals?
- Is there something I’m missing?
- Have other people had success? What do other people say?
Testimonials and reviews provide positive reassurance that others have been happy and satisfied with their investment, have achieved the same results they want to achieve, had a remarkable experience, and would recommend the service, product, program, or course to others.
Secure Valuable Testimonials And Reviews
Study after study has shown that people make buying decisions based on emotion (their heart) and then back up the decisions with logic (their head). This premise is what makes reviews and testimonials so powerful — they provide you the opportunity to connect with your audience on an emotional level through real, personal stories of past and current clients and customers.
For current clients, getting great testimonials or reviews is simple. They have already hired you, enrolled in your course, or bought from you, so now all you need to do is provide massive value, exceed expectations, and either ask for a testimonial or ask them to provide a review. Most people are happy to provide feedback for a service, course, or product they love or had a great experience with, but never do simply because no one asked them to.
But what happens when your freelance business is brand new, you just formed your digital agency, you’re launching a new course, or you have created a new product and don’t have any testimonials or reviews yet?
There are three core ways to quickly generate reviews and testimonials for new brands, courses, products, and services:
Offer It For Free.
The easiest way to get initial reviews and testimonials is to provide whatever you’re selling for free in exchange for feedback. Authors mail their books to hundreds of people for reviews, movie studios give advance copies of movies to reviewers, and product companies send people free product to review.
Also, for my own personal blog, Inspired Imperfection:
- Mighty Kong Muffins gave me a free box to try their muffins and write a review on my website.
- Disney On Ice gave me free tickets to events to write a review and share the event on social media.
- The Sacramento County Fair invited me to a special media night before the fair opened to the public to sample fair foods, check out entertainment acts, and experience the midway.
If you provide free product in exchange for a review or testimonial, be sure the agreement is spelled out clearly and what you expect in return is communicated and agreed to. Depending on the size of the free gift, you may consider using a contract or written agreement.
Offer A Beta Version.
If you’re creating something new, consider offering access to the beta version or running a beta program so real customers can engage and provide feedback along the way and help improve your offering.
For my courses, Profitable Project Plan and Positioning E-Commerce Projects For Success, I offered a beta opportunity to my email list, inviting my loyal tribe to take the courses for free in exchange for their honest feedback on where the courses could be improved and an honest review/testimonial. This strategy has not only helped me improve the value of what I am offering in the courses but enabled me to create the sales page for each course with a few testimonials from the very beginning.
Host A Soft Launch.
When a new restaurant or bar is getting ready to open, they often host a soft launch before the official public launch. A soft launch, often in the form of a quiet “friends and family night,” gives the staff practice, helps iron out any kinks in processes, and provides an opportunity to gather reviews and testimonials that can be used in the public launch marketing and media-blitz.
A soft launch is a fantastic way to test the waters, get some purchases under your belt, and fix any unknown issues before your marketing campaigns and media efforts begin.
Asking For Testimonials
The act of asking for a testimonial can sometimes feel a little uncomfortable and awkward, but the right timing a clear communication can make it much easier. For example:
- When a client is already praising you, ask if you can use their words or feedback in a testimonial and ask if they would be willing to elaborate a bit. If they say yes, ask them some clarifying questions.
- When a project comes to an end, host a wrap-up call. On the wrap-up call ask the client if they would be willing to provide a testimonial by answering a few questions. If they’re hesitant, let them know that you’d be more than happy to write it up and send it to them to approve before use.
- Check in with your clients several weeks or months after your work together. This will give them time to see actual results and when you ask how it’s going, they can provide some more concrete specifics and you can update their original testimonial.
While I change up the language based on what service, course, product, or program I am asking about, and sometimes I add a few extra questions, there are five core questions I use every time I ask for a client testimonial or customer review. These questions are exactly how I secured so many great testimonials for my design and development agency.
Here are my five go-to questions to get great testimonials:
01. Tell me about you! Who are you, what do you do, and who do you serve?
This question gives context and background to the review and helps prospective buyers make a quick connection. For example, if your ideal client is a mid-level executive who wants to get promoted, all of your marketing efforts will be aimed at getting this buyer to your website. If they then see reviews from other mid-level executives who hired you and got promoted, they likelihood that they’ll also hire you skyrockets.
02. What was going on in your business before hiring Bourn Creative? Did you have any doubts about hiring us?
This question speaks to the problems or challenges the client was struggling with before they hired you and why they hired you. By sharing this information, prospects can see that others have been in the exact same place they are right now, hired you, and achieved their goals. This in-turn, will help persuade them that they should also hire you.
03. What was your experience like working with Bourn Creative? How were we different? Did anything really stand out?
This question focuses on what the client thought of working with you and what they liked. It also helps establish how you’re different than other people who offer the same or similar services and why someone may want to hire you instead.
04. What is your business like after working with Bourn Creative? Can you share any specific results or achievements?
This question delivers the biggest impact when the client shares specific results achieved. The answer your client gives tells the story of how much better things are for them because they chose to hire you and demonstrates what your prospective clients could also enjoy if they too invest.
05. What would you say to someone on the fence about hiring Bourn Creative?
This question seals the deal by giving prospective clients who really want to hire you but aren’t yet all-in, a gentle nudge from an objective third-party to go for it.
Asking For A Testimonial Out Of The Blue
There are also times you may need to ask for a testimonial out of the blue.
For example, I am working on the About page and Speaking page for this website and want to include testimonials about my speaking and workshops. The problem is that while Profitable Project Plan has taken care of securing awesome testimonials from clients automatically, it doesn’t gather testimonials for speaking gigs — and I’ve been really lazy that over the past few years. This meant I needed to reach out to people who have attended my talks and workshops or booked me to speak in the past and ask them if they would provide a review.
Every person I asked was happy to provide a review, and several even sent them back the same day because they said I made it easy. When asking for the testimonial, I told them:
- What I was doing and what I wanted the testimonial for
- Why I was asking them
- What I wanted to communicate to others with the testimonial
- How it would be used
- About how long I wanted it to be
By being up front and crystal clear about what I was asking and letting them know what I wanted to communicate, I removed the work of figuring out what to say and made it easy for them to say yes and help me out.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
The hardest part of securing great client testimonials and customer reviews for your freelance business or digital agency is actually asking for them!
But luckily, you don’t have to worry about that now that you have three simple ways to secure testimonials and reviews for brand new offerings and the exact five questions I use to get results-driven testimonials and reviews that tell compelling stories. You also now have guidance on how to ask for testimonials and reviews “out of the blue” if you failed to do so in the moment for past services, courses, products, or programs delivered.
Now it’s up to you to ask… and trust me, you’ve totally got this!