Before investing in a product or service, a cautious buyer will first do their homework. But they're not basing these valuable decisions on what marketing copy a company is putting out. Instead, they look toward their peers, individuals who have a lot of the same pain points as them. Social proof is extremely important when it comes to purchasing decisions (we all look at the reviews on Amazon before buying a product, don't we?).
But guess what? Your competitors are also well aware of how powerful social proof can be. That is why most software companies feature customer testimonials across all of their communication platforms from their official website to social media pages and sales communications.
At this point, if you don't have customer testimonials, you are placing yourself at a massive disadvantage. Written testimonials are a definite plus, but you can't rely on them. Modern consumers are notoriously slow to trust companies, and they may be slow to believe any written content that you're pushing out. However, nothing compares to the social proof of a real customer willing to go on camera and share their story. It gives the potential buyer a friendly face to identify with and trust.
As Jenny Mudarri from Wistia put it, "Customer testimonial videos are the 5-star Amazon reviews of the SaaS industry." That's why it's so important to get your happy customers to share their experiences on camera. Here are three great ways to capture positive customer testimonials from your clients.
1) Build a Video Testimonial Clause into Contracts
During the purchasing portion of the buyer's journey, potential customers are looking for any way possible to slash the overall cost. Prospects will always try to shoot for a nice discount, especially if they are making big purchases or if they are marquee brands with a lot of buying power.
One way that you can make those customers happy while also ensuring that you will benefit from the situation for years to come is to apply a discount in exchange for the prospect agreeing to participate in certain marketing activities.
Now, obviously, those marketing activity agreements are pending satisfaction. You don't want to force an unhappy customer to say that something is great when they don't actually mean it.
Some of these beneficial marketing activities might be speaking on behalf of the company at a conference or appearing on a webinar. At a minimum, the client should take part in filming a video testimonial.
As any shrewd negotiator will tell you, it's never a good idea to give away something for nothing. When you're providing a discounted service it's important that you get something beneficial out of the deal as well. In terms of a long term investment, knowing that you can get a testimonial from an individual customer or company is very valuable and could draw future business in for years to come.
This tactic is also particularly valuable for marquee customers or larger companies. Sometimes, it can be harder to get busy clients to agree to go on camera. Once a deal is closed with these larger companies, they have even less incentive to help your marketing efforts.
If you're going to be offering a discounted price from the get-go, you should build this video testimonial clause in right away. Alternatively, you can pull it out as a bargaining chip as needed to help push the sales process along.
2) Approach Customers at Live Events
This is one of the most effective ways to secure customer video testimonials, but there is also a delicate balance which must be upheld.
If the event in question is your own, you don't want customers to mistakenly believe that you are throwing an event just to capture testimonials. You also have to remember to be considerate of people's time. Often the only time that people might have at such events to hop on camera is during one of the few breaks that they take throughout the day, such as a lunch break.
In terms of what live events are appropriate for gathering testimonials, there are a couple no-brainers.
Any conferences your company is putting on, such as your user conference or your customer advisory forum would be ideal. After parties or other events that you are hosting in tandem with popular industry conferences are another good spot to hunt for some quick videos.
The key in these situations is to go in already knowing exactly what you're going to ask and keep it to three to five questions, taking no more than five minutes of their time in all.
To make the process easier for everyone involved, you should have the videography equipment already set up so that people can quickly pop in out as needed. Sometimes, rather than asking "would you be open to a video testimonial?" it's better to ask "do you have 5 minutes to quickly share a bit about the success you've had with 'Product X' and provide tips for other users?" You will have a higher probability of success by keeping interactions more interesting and slightly less transactional.
Obviously, you have to respect their time. Make sure that if you said it would be fast, it actually is fast. That's why it's important to enter into the event with all of your ducks in a row. You want to be a well-oiled machine throughout the evening.
Always assure your customers that nothing will be published without their direct approval. This is of particular importance when you do these videos on such short notice.
This method is a great way to get testimonials from larger companies. Typically, if you ask a larger company, (Fortune 100 or Fortune 500) for a testimonial, they will decline based on policy, or rather, the person you ask will ask their boss, and they will decline for them.
At a live event, you can directly reach individuals from large companies to testify, edit the video, and then approve it after the fact. This is often the easier approach, as the company can watch the video and effectively say, "ok, this is fine, there's nothing here that's an issue."
With Fortune 500 companies and above, it's always easier to ask for forgiveness later rather than permission. Reaching out to company heads is often the best approach whenever possible, otherwise, you'll never get the chance to begin.
3) Create an Internal SPIFF Program
A SPIFF program is when you pay a small immediate bonus to a salesperson. This is encouraging to salespeople and encourages them to push certain products or services to prospects over others that won't have such an immediate payoff. This is a wonderful incentivized way to encourage your sales and account management teams to reach out to existing clientele to secure testimonial videos.
As to whether you should offer such a program to the sales team or account management team, it really depends who has the main or closest relationship with the existing account. Whichever representative is their main point of contact with the company is the person who should be asking for a testimonial.
Depending on the situation and how long the customer has been with your company, the main relationship that they've developed might be through account management. If they are still relatively new, then the salesperson who sold them on the service would be the person that they trust the most. After all, the sales process is built on trust between prospect and salesperson, and most sales companies include the sales associate who inked the deal in the initial onboarding process.
Regardless of who you trust to secure the video, you can create an internal SPIFF program that could say something like, "for every account you can get to agree to a video testimonial, you get an immediate $500 dollar bonus."
The cost is obviously dependent upon the company's internal budget, but incentivizing the process makes asking for testimonials far more appealing to your team. It's best to figure out what the average value of a testimonial video is before deciding on a SPIFF number. For example, if the average client's lifetime value is $500 and you've discovered through your own research that video testimonials bring in an average of 20 clients per year, then the average value of a testimonial is $10,000.
That means something like a $500 bonus to a staff member per video is an excellent incentive that will help move your bottom line upward while rewarding your employees in the process for diligent work.
Typically, account executives and sales personnel have a lot on their plate. Asking them to perform another vital task on top of their already hectic workload might be damaging to morale, and they might not take it very seriously. But through a SPIFF program, you sweeten the pot exponentially and ensure that they're all going to be chasing those testimonial videos.
While it's important to involve the person or persons with the closest relationship to the client to secure the video, it is also of equal importance to make sure you equip them with all of the training needed on how to ask your customers to appear in testimonial videos.
They should not approach the client in an overly transactional manner and make them uncomfortable with the process. This isn't a sales pitch, it's a request for a favor. If they are communicating with clients on the phone or in person, it can be casually slipped into the conversation while the client is telling them about their experiences with the service. If they note that they are happy, it's easy to say something like "that's great, I'm so happy it's all working out for you. By any chance would you be willing to participate in a testimonial video to help us get the word out about how the product has helped your company?""
If your employees are communicating with the client via email, it's a good idea to have them mention it at the end of the correspondence, almost like an afterthought. They can even attach other customer testimonial videos to the email to provide an example and show the customer that it's not a complicated or potentially harmful process.
It's also important to remember what the sales funnel for this particular client looked like. Did you send them customer testimonial videos to show them the effectiveness of your service? Is it something that they already have seen the value in? If so, your employees can reference those videos and offer them the opportunity to help someone else enjoy the same product that is working so well for them.
Let's keep it real. Getting a written testimonial from a client is much easier than getting a video testimonial. Some people may be camera-shy and simply writing something out takes almost no time at all.
Moreover, if you want high production quality, you will need to invest in hiring professionals who can script, film, and edit the video. Remember, the more work that you put into your testimonial videos, the more impressive they will seem to potential customers.
The fact that you need to put in all of this extra time, energy, and money into getting a video testimonial is a good thing. Why? Because it means that your competitors are less likely to do it.
So go that extra mile. Apply these important strategies to acquire more customer video testimonials and show your audience the true effectiveness of your product or service.