10 Mistakes You’re Making When Asking for B2B Testimonial
Meta description: Learn to avoid these ten (10) testimonial mistakes when asking B2B customers for testimonials to increase opt-ins and receive valuable customer endorsement.
The CMO Council on B2B Content Marketing reports that only 9% of B2B buyers consider vendor content trustworthy. With customer testimonials, you can overcome this buyer skepticism and improve buy-in by building credibility and buyer confidence, provided you avoid certain testimonial mistakes made while asking B2B clients for testimonials.
Furthermore, buyers consider prior experience with product as the most trustworthy source of information, as seen below.
However, for B2B buyers with little or no prior product experience, what are their options?
According to Reevoo, 89% of B2B marketers consider testimonials the best marketing tool. Seasoned B2B marketers also know that when you say it, it is marketing but when your customers say it, it is social proof. In fact, to customers, your lack of social proof may be proof that your products or services suck.
And what better way to garner testimonials than by asking?
However, there are certain testimonial mistakes you’re making when asking B2B customers for testimonials. When it comes to getting B2B testimonials from customers, how you ask, who you ask, what you ask and when you ask are key determinants.
In this post, we’ll highlight ten (10) B2B testimonial mistakes made at the point or time of asking – POTA as I call it.
Since 84% of B2B decision-makers start the buying process with referrals, collating and showcasing reliable, relatable social proof in the form of customer testimonials is key to closing more sales.
According to Upshot, 70% of buyers agree that customer stories are the best way that providers can communicate differentiation that is trustworthy. This can win you new qualified B2B leads you could never have reached by telling your story yourself.
And speaking of social proof, here are
10 TESTIMONIAL MISTAKES WHEN ASKING FOR B2B TESTIMONIALS
Testimonial Mistakes #1: NOT OUTSOURCING YOUR CUSTOMER TESTIMONIAL PROCESS
One of the biggest testimonial mistakes B2B companies make is not outsourcing the process to agencies that specialize in customer testimonials. This can negatively impact results because your in-house teams may lack the necessary technical skills and know-how.
Also, outsourcing your customer testimonial projects ensures sufficient emotional detachment between you and testifiers. This can enhance the quality, integrity, and credibility of customer testimonials you generate plus protect you from clients who may otherwise attempt to arm-twist you.
By outsourcing this time-consuming task you also save and invest time in other core areas of your business increasing efficiency and productivity. Such agencies know the right customer testimonial questions to ask, who to ask, when to ask and how to ask.
Testimonial Mistakes #2: BEGGING FOR A TESTIMONIAL
It’s a thin line between asking and begging for testimonials which is one of the top testimonial mistakes some B2B marketers make. This sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to get customer testimonials is to not ask!
Whereas 91% of B2B buyers say they’d give referrals but only 11% of salespeople ask, pleading for a five-star testimonial appears desperate. In fact, begging tells clients that you’re a five-star beggar and that you’ve neither earned nor deserve it.
Even when professionally asked (especially for video testimonials), some clients begin to imagine an elaborate process of concepting, storyboarding, scripting, casting, locations, filming, etc. Being non-actors and busy, most B2B clients will opt out and you could lose valuable customer endorsement.
Simplify this by enquiring about their post-purchase experience. If they oblige, further engage them by using guided, open-ended questions. Gently prod them for further details in a non-intrusive way. At the end of the day, you should have sufficient insight, data and details for your next customer testimonial without appearing desperate and beggarly.
As soon as possible email them a briefing note from your interaction, solicit their input if any, then their permission to use it as a customer testimonial. That’s how to get a testimonial without asking or begging.
Testimonial Mistakes #3: Ignoring Social Media
According to IDG, 84% of C-level and VP-level B2B buyers are influenced by social media when making purchase decisions. Furthermore, 55% of buyers acknowledge looking for information on social media.
While in this consideration phase, encountering your social proofs or customer testimonials on social media can help them decide faster. What’s more, with billions of social media users, including 76% of B2B tech companies, it makes perfect sense to try to source customer testimonials from social networks.
By ignoring social media, B2B companies commit another serious testimonial mistake. Reports say 9 out of 10 B2B companies use LinkedIn, ranking it second after email marketing. When making video testimonials, YouTube is also a great place to source for customer testimonial participants. It is the second largest social network after Facebook, and 56% of B2B marketers say it is central to their marketing success.
Testimonial Mistakes #4: ASKING THE WRONG PEOPLE
Testimonial mistakes like asking the wrong people for testimonials is another misstep B2B companies make when soliciting customer testimonials. Ideally, target the CEO, other top-level managers or direct end-users of your products or services, preferably the latter.
They use your products or services and possess practical firsthand knowledge other non-users lack. Their user narrative is more natural, insightful, convincing and impactful. As a rule of thumb, always ask the user, not the buyer.
Because they share similar pain points with your prospective buyers they are better able to convincingly explain and demonstrate how your solution has worked for them. Social proof like this from knowledgeable peers is gold.
Reports say 84% of B2B buyers cite word of mouth (WoM) as the number one influence on purchase decision. Authentic eye-level testimonials from knowledgeable peers are like WoM, they effectively tell your story from another customer’s perspective.
Asking the wrong people for customer testimonials lowers positive response rates, increases declines, and edit time, if and when they eventually provide their half-baked responses.
Testimonial Mistakes #5: ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS
Next to asking the wrong people for testimonials is asking the wrong testimonial questions. This is a testimonial mistake that can result in shock, embarrassment or resentment and withdrawal. Certain questions can make you appear meddlesome. Intrusive questions that raise privacy concerns should also be avoided here.
The wrong questions can totally derail customer responses, hence increasing time spent filming or editing. It also portrays you in a bad light and casts a shadow of doubt about your professionalism and credibility.
Proper prior planning proves helpful here.
Jon Nastor shares how he asks for testimonials in an OptinMonster blog post:
Testimonial Mistakes #6: ASKING TOO MANY QUESTIONS
Close to asking the wrong questions is the testimonial mistake of asking lengthy questions. A testimonial is neither a probe nor inquiry and thus should be brief and straight to the point. Hence, avoid long questionnaires that leave testifiers questioning your motives.
Whereas some testimonial request forms have a fairly good number of form fields, they appear rather lengthy (in form) and can fool clients into thinking it’s a lengthy questionnaire. So, keep the design and data fields in mind.
B2B clients have busy schedules. Don’t add to that by asking endless questions or appearing to do so. If you do, when next you ask for a testimonial they’d likely decline or ignore your emails.
Engage your best copywriters to create concise questionnaires that guide your clients and help to extract the best responses. Alternatively, download user-friendly and customizable customer testimonial templates.
A better approach is to ask a few questions then encourage testifiers to share as much as they can. This can be edited for best results.
Testimonial Mistakes #7: WRONG TIMING
Not every time is a good time to ask for testimonials. Asking for testimonials before customers have begun to derive any utility from your products or services is bad timing; another example of testimonial mistakes. Even if they try, they’d be unable to provide accurate, in-depth and convincing testimonials, which can end up being a waste of time.
This could also portray you as salesy; concerned only about the next sale and not about the value your solutions can bring to their business.
So, how do you know when they have begun to use your products or services?
For non-SaaS B2B companies, this can be a little tricky. However, there are certain milestones that should pass before you reach out to customers asking for testimonials.
Most B2B marketers ask within hours, weeks, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days,1 year.
Within this timeframe, your clients are likely to have started using your products or services. Asking too early or too late can hurt your “yes” rate.
If they do not respond, find out why. Are they unhappy with your products? In that case, you should improve first then ask later. They’d be happy to share thereafter.
Testimonial Mistakes #8: ASKING ONLY ONCE: NOT FOLLOWING UP
Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences after colleague recommendations and industry thought leaders, and with a 47% higher CTR than B2C emails, B2B emails are effective communication tools.
However, sometimes emails derail and end up in spam folders. At other times your busy clients may inadvertently miss your customer testimonial request. In this case, follow up is highly recommended.
Another testimonial mistake most B2B marketers make is not following up on their testimonial requests. When you do, you may be surprised at the response rate and reason for initial non-response. Follow-up should be done within a week, especially from the third day.
Testimonial Mistakes #9: SPAMMING
Whereas some B2B marketers fail to follow-up, others overdo it. They follow-up until customers are overwhelmed. Sending ten follow-up emails is no follow-up, it is spamming, one of the worst testimonial mistakes possible. In the B2B world, this is totally unprofessional and unacceptable.
Instead of endless reminder emails, seek out other avenues for an in-person meeting to make your request. A trade show or networking event may be a great place to get chatty and mention in passing that you’d like them to share their customer success story.
Make the conversation more about them and their business, and less about you. Like we mentioned in testimonial mistakes #2 above, you may not even need to mention the word “testimonial.”
Whatever you do, avoid spamming your customers for testimonials. You could be blacklisted and may lose a valuable client. Two to three follow-ups should do. If you get no response after three attempts, move on.
Testimonial Mistakes #10: NOT TAKING NO FOR AN ANSWER
Persistence is great; stubborn insistence is not. Sometimes silence could be an answer to relentless spamming. If they respond to your other business emails but ignore your testimonial request, perhaps it’s a sign that they’re not interested.
Similarly, if your mail tracker indicates that your testimonial request emails have been opened yet not replied twice or thrice, back off. Action is louder than words. Sometimes by ignoring your mails they’re signaling disinterest.
Learn to take such cues. In the event that a client clearly indicates disinterest, don’t add to your testimonial mistakes by insisting. Not taking no for an answer is even worse than spamming and could hurt your relationship with such clients.
When it comes to B2B communication, no means no. Respect that and move on to other clients who may be willing to participate in your customer testimonials programme.
With the right approach, testimonial mistakes that occur prior to, during or after asking for customer stories can be overcome. This will produce an uptick in the quality and quantity of user feedback you generate.
Customer-generated social proof continues to top B2B buyers list, not necessarily because providers are deliberately being deceitful, but because most buyers believe they are biased and create content somewhat skewed in their favor.
As competition stiffens, marketers strive to control reasonable market share to remain in business and dominate their industry. Sometimes, however, the best marketers aren’t on your payroll, they’re your customers.
With effective customer testimonials these customer-marketers can greatly amplify your sales results. Learn how to avoid common B2B testimonial mistakes standing between you and your next customer testimonial.
Amos Onwukwe is an AWAI trained B2B/B2C Business and Ecommerce Copywriter who also covers Tech and Social Media. When not writing, he’s thinking of writing or making music. He’s been featured in Huffington Post, Dumb Little Man, Ecommerce Nation, eCommerce Insights, Understanding Ecommerce, Result First, Floship, GrowMap, Self Growth, among others.
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LinkedIn: Amos Onwukwe