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YOU are great at what you do!  Can you prove it?

by Bill Cates

While it’s difficult to generalize about what prospects consider when deciding to work with you, there is a common denominator in every decision. Your prospects are consciously or unconsciously asking themselves, “Is he/she right for me?” 

You’ve probably heard the term Social Proof.  Social proof is a form of evidence that you are worthy of consideration. With social proof, the evidence is that another human (or humans) has found your service, advice, and/or overall working relationship highly acceptable. I believe that referrals and Introductions are the highest forms of social proof

Within the family of social proof, you’ll also find testimonials and recommendations. As both a consumer and an advisor, you’ve probably experienced that a testimonial making a recommendation can be a highly effective form of evidence that compels a favorable decision. 

As a consumer, you see testimonials all the time. Why?  Because they work. Testimonials and recommendations influence opinions. Sometimes they draw you in and increase your interest. And sometimes they can be the deciding factor in a decision. 

Now that the SEC and FINRA have relaxed the rules around our use of testimonials, I felt it was time for me to offer some ideas for how you can put this powerful client-acquisition tool to work for yourself.  

NOTE:  The interpretation of these new rules varies from one compliance department to another. Please check with your legal folks to ensure you remain compliant.

Don’t Be Passive. Do Be Proactive. 

I suggest you take a proactive approach to obtaining testimonials.  In my system, one of the criteria for asking for referrals is value given —  value recognized.  This same dynamic is true for testimonials.  When it is clear that you have provided value to your clients, it’s time to ask for a brief statement that you can use in various places – such as your website, LinkedIn profile, and collateral marketing materials. 

When a happy client makes a statement of value delivered and value recognized (orally or in writing), I want to acknowledge that value-recognizing statement. This is a perfect opportunity to ask your client for permission to apply what they said in your client-acquisition efforts. 

It might sound something like, “Bob, I’m pleased that I’ve been able to make a difference for you. I was wondering . . . Whenever I hear a nice comment like what you just said, it helps us influence others who are considering working with us. Would you mind if I shared your statement with other potential clients?” 

You’ll rarely have your request turned down, though some clients may prefer to remain anonymous. However, don’t assume anonymity is important to them. The money side of your work with them should always be confidential, but a sign of great work is your growing list of clients willing to sing your praises to the world.

Make Your Testimonials Visual 

I believe that short video testimonials are the most effective. More and more advisors are using short video testimonials their clients record using tools such as Zoom.  

A week before writing this piece, a client sent an email to me with this statement:  Your Cates Academy and referral coaching has been a huge success for our team of advisors. Our referral growth has exploded. 

In response to this unsolicited statement, I wrote, “This is so nice to hear, Kyle. I have a thought.  I would love to get a very quick video recording of you making the statement you said below (and maybe a wee bit more.)  Would you be open to doing this via Zoom sometime?”  

His response?  “I’d be happy to.”  We have this scheduled for about a week from now. 

NOTE:  When using video testimonials, I recommend you also include a very short text excerpt from the video next to the video. So, if the visitor doesn’t play the video, they’ll still read what your client said.  For an example of how we do this on one of our website pages go here and then scroll down just a bit to see three video testimonials and statements: 

The next level below the video testimonial would be using the client’s statement in writing including their photograph. Photographs catch the eye and make the testimonials that much more real.

You Can Coach Your Clients on What to Say 

If you have a good relationship with your client, you might feel comfortable coaching them a bit on what to write.  “I remember you saying that you should have done this 20 years ago.  You could put that in the statement if you want.”  Have a little fun with this and you’ll get a great testimonial. But keep them short! 

After you get your client to agree to write their short statement, send him or her an email of thanks for their kind words and thank them in advance for the statement that you are expecting from them. This thank-you email serves as a gentle reminder. 

If your client can’t seem to get around to writing their statement or you just want to make it as easy as possible for them, consider offering to rough something up for them to review and approve. 

If you and your team continually do a great job for your clients – from the very start – you’ll get great testimonials – if you ask for them. Remember, you can’t use anything that relates to the performance of their portfolio. You don’t want these statements to refer to money in any way nor mention any type of product you may have implemented. 

Use the Statements! 

As you collect some good statements you should use them liberally.  Add them to every page on your website and in your LinkedIn profile. Add them to printed materials. And you can even include a short one in an email message to a prospective client or center of influence. 

You are in the evidence business. Social Proof is one of the highest forms of evidence.

Now that the regulations have changed around using testimonials, do your best to put this powerful marketing strategy to work for you.

Find this message helpful? Don’t keep it a secret! 
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