Sunday, June 1, 2008

Questions You Can Ask to Solicit Meaningful Testimonials and Case Studies

One of the most important elements in your marketing efforts which will lead to higher customer conversion rates and increased sales (next to your branding, positioning statement, and unique selling messages) are customer testimonials. But how can you solicit customer testimonials and case studies that are meaningful?

First of all, for any reader to find a testimonial or case study meaningful, he or she must relate to a specific pain or problem the endorser had and understand how that problem was resolved using the solution you provide. Also, your testimonial must be attributed to the owner since blind testimonials are seldom effective, and may in fact work against you. Finally, the larger or more well-known the endorsement, a market-leader or well-known figure, the more effective your efforts will be.

Here are some questions I’ve recently used for our on-demand, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions which have led to very positive and meaningful testimonials and case studies from our customers:

  • What was life like before you implemented the solution? How were you accomplishing your objectives?
  • What were your goals for our solution? What problems were you trying to solve?
  • How is the solution being used today?
  • Tell me about the process you went through to select this solution for your organization?
  • How many people were involved? How important was price in your consideration?
  • What criteria did you follow in selecting a solution? Easy to use, range of features, reporting features, administrative controls or settings, integration with other programs.
  • What other products or services did you consider?
  • What was the primary reason you selected our solution over any others?
  • Has the solution measured up to your expectations?
  • Based on your own use, what is the most positive and valuable aspect of our solution?
  • What areas of our solution would you say can be most improved?
  • What have you heard from your customers or other users?
  • Are there any specific features or enhancements you wish the solution would have in a future version?
  • Are there any other challenges, problems, or issues you wish you could solve in this area?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you'll want to solicit a broad spectrum of reasons to buy your solution. If your testimonials all communicate the same exact message, you aren't reaching the widest range of customers with your unique selling messages.

So, as you move through your customer calls, you may need to “steer” each message in a different direction. If you start hearing the same message over and over, just get more creative with your questions. You may even need to ask a more leading question that focuses on some other benefit to your product or even area of your business which can also help you gain a competitive advantage (support, customer service, licensing model, partnerships, etc.).


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