In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about the importance of testimonials. They break down the kind of testimonials that start ups must have and they explain how to get them to present your best face to a new audience.

Testimonials are important and powerful tools to build credibility. We rely on testimonials everyday, from friends who recommend the best place to get a good meal, or the best book to finish that project. We even read testimonials from strangers which helps us to navigate our buying decisions online and offline.

Testimonials are useful to us because they help us to lower the risk of investing our time and money, in an incorrect decision. Testimonials are very important for startups, as when they are done correctly, they communicate powerfully the voices of satisfied clients to the masses.

Tune into this week’s episode of The Startup Chat to learn about the powerful tools to building trust with customer testimonials, increasing web conversions and lowering the risk to entry for your audience. As well as Steli and Hiten’s top tips for doing it the right way for maximum impact.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:36 Testimonials are important.

01:01 Top accomplishments of testimonials.

02:03 Key places to use testimonials.

02:27 Steps to creating testimonials effectively.

05:27 Where can you find happy customers.

06:03 One mistake of creating testimonials.

06:16 Steps to making your testimonials great.

07:13 Mistakes that kill the power of testimonials.

08:59 What should you address in your testimonials.  

10:30 Top secret tip for powerful testimonials.

12:02 Easy tip for creating testimonials.

3 Key Points:

  • Testimonials are important, they are the way to help people understand if a business or product is right for them.
  • Your sales team should be a source of creating new customer testimonials.
  • If you have customers who are happy with you every one of them should be a case study or testimonial.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody. This is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. Today, on the start-up chat, we’re going to talk about how to create great testimonials. And I think, today we’re probably going to have a good sales lens, marketing lens, product lens on this, considering both of us are here, as always. And I’ll just start by saying testimonials are super important. And this is like case studies, testimonials … They are the way to help people understand whether a business, a product, signing up for it is right for them or not. And so, that I think, testimonials can be some of the most powerful tools that you have to get other people to sign up and use your product.



Steli Efti: Yeah. Because, they’re accomplishing a number of things all at the same time. A testimonial is ultimate social proof. So instead of just you saying, “Our product is great and it solves problem X”, you have a customer of yours say, “Their product is great and it solves problem X for us”. It solves it better than others. So that’s a much better … Obviously, we all know this in our lives when, it’s one thing for a company come in a tell you that you should buy that product. It’s a totally different thing when a customer of a company comes and says, “Hey. Dude. I’ve used this. This tool is really awesome. I would highly recommend it. Check it out. We use it religiously internally.” That’s a much more powerful statement, because you know its not biased. And because you associate with the messenger. The messenger hopefully is somebody just like you, with same problems, same challenges. So when they tell you that they’ve used it and are successful and happy with it, that’s a much, something you can associate and relate to much more so than if a service provider or a company comes and says, “We think our product could be good for you as a customer”. Now you mentioned, you can use testimonials in all different, there’s different places to do that. Obviously, your website is a prominent place. You could publish case studies, either as PDFs or as blog posts or as videos or as whatever else form factor you could imagine. You can use these in marketing and in sales. You can use them in all kinds of different factors, but let’s really zero in on the, “How do you do that well?” I think my number one thing that I’ll throw out there, which is I think the most challenging thing, is that, I think most companies don’t put a process in place where they are consistently creating new, fresh, up-to-date customer testimonials. They might do it in the beginning when they launch their website. They might do it at some point when they are forced to it, but it’s very rare to see a company be super consistent in creating these customer testimonial asset and asset database that’s growing, that marketing and sales and support can utilize in order to communicate more effectively with customers. Would you agree with that?



Hiten Shah: Yeah, absolutely. There is no better way.



Steli Efti: So, a way of thinking about creating customer testimonials in a way that’s not just stop gap or a one-off, is to think of different teams in your company that have easy access to these customer stories that have the highest degree of customer intimacy that they can translate into helping to create consistent amount of new customer testimonials. Very obvious cases. Your sales team should be a source of generating customer testimonials. Your sales people are talking to prospects and they know the prospects that just became customers. So they know the people that are probably at the height of their excitement and enthusiasm, because they maybe trialed your product for 30 days, 60 days, whatever it was. They had all their questions answered, they had trial, a test run, and they are now so convinced that your product also solves their problem, that they’ve put in their credit card or they sent the money or wired the money and they’ve now turned into to a customer, that is gold. Knowing that, especially the unique or really useful type of customers that could be a great kind of testimonial, because lots of other companies that you want to sell to would look up to that type of customer, the sales team can be a great source of feeding, let’s say the marketing team, customer names and saying, “Hey. This is a new customer we just closed. They are really awesome. Here’s why they’re excited. Here’s the value they’re generating. They’re really charismatic. I think their brand is really great. I think the team in marketing or the person in marketing responsible for testimonials should get in touch. I can make an intro to get a customer testimonial running.” So sales team is a great source of that. The success and support teams are great sources of that. Your support team is so intimately involved with your customers, especially your long term customers. They will know and they, every week, every month, they’ll discover or have these interactions that are really powerful and valuable where they recognize, “Here’s a customer that’s so successful that we’ve helped so much, they would be a great testimonial, a great case study, a great champion of our brand. Let me put them in touch with the marketing department to create a story around this.” So, think about these different teams in your company as ways of doing lead gen for customer testimonials for your marketing team.



Hiten Shah: Oh man. It’s like this. If you have, to me, if you have customers that are happy with you, every single one of them should be a case study and a testimonial. Right?



Steli Efti: Yeah.



Hiten Shah: And I don’t think people think of it like that. And there’s so many signals for that. If you have account managers or sales reps. They usually know if a customer is happy or not. If you have a customer support team, they know if a customer is happy or not. Your product team, if they’re actually talking to your customers, they know which customers are happy or not. The marketing team, that’s the team that usually writes the case studies and testimonials, but might not know who’s happy and who’s not. So I think the biggest mistake I see here is there’s a disconnect between the people that might know their customers are happy and the people that are usually tasked with getting these testimonials.



Steli Efti: Now, let’s shift to how to make these testimonials great. Because, I’ve definitely seen customer testimonials that were underwhelming. Or so generic or so uncompelling, that I didn’t want to read through it. I think that one thing that’s important to highlight is that, a customer testimonial or case study is still a piece of content that needs to be compelling. It needs to be compelling. It needs to be written in a way that I want to read it. That I want to consume it. If it is just a quote on a website, why does that quote stand out? Why is that quote placed at the right place? Is it a quote about … If get a pricing objection, often because people think your price is too expensive, do you have a quote on the pricing page with a customer that says, “In the beginning, we thought the price was too high. But now after being customers for three years, we know this is actually cheap.” Something along those lines. Something that addresses an objection that a person would have at that point of scrolling through your website. Or you have disconnected quotes. I’m on the pricing page and the quote says, “We really like the API integrations. This is a great company.” This has nothing to do with what I’m looking at right now. So this really doesn’t do much for me as the consumer of the content. Do you have a compelling image of the customer that, the customer image that you have that goes along with the quote, does that look like a low quality, low resolution picture? Does that look like a person that’s depressed and potentially a fake photo stock from some website? Or does it look like a compelling, energetic person? Somebody that I want to take advice from? Somebody that I believed when they tell me this is an awesome service? So, the images that you use, the words you use and the context that you put that stuff in, needs to be great. If you do a customer case study and it’s a blog post, why is this a blog post worth reading? Other than them telling me 600 words or 1,000 words how great your product is. Why is this … Are they sharing a tactic? Are they sharing some secret? Are they sharing a compelling story of their challenges and how they almost failed and how using your product in a very creative way made they raise a ton of money or succeed with their customers? The content needs to be compelling. And I think a lot of times when it comes to testimonials, companies don’t care as much. They don’t just put enough work in. And then they have these super generic testimonials, case studies or quotes that don’t do anything. I look at that, I’m like, “I don’t want to read this. Or it doesn’t really convince me or sell me on what you’re trying to convey.”



Hiten Shah: Yeah, I really like that. I mean, let me give some thoughts on how to actually get those objections or figure out what exactly do you need to address in those testimonials. Because that’s what people fail at, as you said. And so, to me, it’s really like, figuring out and understanding why people are actually buying from you and what makes your service unique. And then getting those people to give you a quote that’s related to that. Because one aspect of it is, what makes your service unique? And why do people keep buying it? Or want to buy it. Why do those people actually love it? And I don’t mean like, “Oh I love it. It’s great. It’s got an awesome user interface.” I mean more like, “They reduced the amount of steps it takes me to do my job.” That’s way more specific. So you want to get to that specificity in your quotes, or they won’t help you. Another thing you want to figure out is, if you have people who are not buying from you, you want to figure out why they didn’t buy from you. And when you figure out why people didn’t buy from you and then can marry that with the reasoning around why people bought from you, you’ll be able to figure out, “Okay. These people that didn’t buy have these objections. These people that bought don’t have those objections and here’s how they frame why they bought us.” And that can help you really address the objections of people that are not buying. Because often times, people are not buying, not because your product sucks or it can’t do anything good for them, it’s because they haven’t been convinced that your product is right for them. And these testimonials, when framed correctly, they can convince people who are not buying to actually buy. Because it has everything to do with how they get convinced and less to do with, Oh, your product doesn’t have the right features, or something like that.



Steli Efti: I love it. All right. So let’s round this episode up with a tip. From my side, the tip is very simple. We just recorded an episode earlier. So if you go back probably just a few episodes, you’ll get the episode where we talk about video and the importance of video and humanizing your brand and your company and your product through video. So I would say that today, one big advantage is that you can now use video really easily and cheaply to create customer testimonials, customer case studies, where you don’t just write about what your customer is telling, or take a quote of what your customer is saying about you and your service and your product, but you have them say it themselves. So prospects can watch your customers, connect on a human level with your customers. Hearing them, listening to them, seeing them speak about your product and service. And yes, you can send a crew and do a case study of like, doing a whole day of recording video in their office and interview them there, but you can also use cheaper tools like Skype or Zoom to do a video call or have them just record on an iPhone, a little 10 second, “Hey. We use , we use this tool, that tool, the other. Here’s why love it. Here’s why the team is excited about it.” Even, do a selfie where you see the team is waving and everybody is saying yeah, they’re using your product. You can do something really powerful utilizing video, so that would be my big tip. Try to use video for your testimonials and case studies, because it’s going to be so much more impactful in order to market it and convince new prospects to purchase.



Hiten Shah: Yeah. I love that. So my tip would just be like, talk to customers. They’ll tell you exactly why they love your product. And when you get to some goal, as them if they’ll give you a testimonial around that quote. Or if you have quotes or people saying nice things in customer support or sales, just email them back and say, “May I use this as a quote as a testimonial? And would you be willing to do a bigger case study?” But what’s not happening in most companies is that, those great moments, those great quotes, that great language from your customer is not getting translated into something that you can use for your market.



Steli Efti: Boom. That’s it. That’s it from us for this episode. Talk to your customers, create consistent customer testimonials, use video. Make that content great and you’ll see a huge difference in terms of conversions you’re able to accomplish with your prospects out there. That’s it from us for this episode. We’ll hear you soon.



Hiten Shah: See ya.