Dear CMO:

You know what else testimonials can do?

You already know that they help you close new customers because under conditions of uncertainty we always look to many similar others to help us figure things out. We “satisfice.” We go with the first acceptable answer and move on, because we’re really very busy.

But think of the humble (or not so humble) testimonial in a different way. By having our happy customer extol your virtues on paper, we activate the principle of consistency, which reminds us that we feel social pressure to behave in a manner consistent with our previously stated positions.

Why is this important?

1.      It’s easy to keep working with those that just told us how good we are. Testimonials work because they cement all the good things your client feels about you.

2.      It’s easy to shore up areas where you feel you are at a disadvantage. If you feel you’re at risk to a competitor, to off-shoring, or to anything else, probe specifically in these areas. “Can you give me some background on why you chose to work with us instead of outsourcing the project to India?” People will build up the marketing scar tissue needed to protect the sensitive areas in your offering, as long as we ask. Once they’ve told you why you were a better idea than going to India, it’s harder for them to dump you in favor of a long distance relationship.

3.      It’s easy to find more opportunities in organizations where you just got a good testimonial. When pitching the other department in Building 2, it’s an easier sell when you’ve got a testimonial in hand from your client in Building 1. Especially if your testimonial giver is in the room with you when you make the pitch. Your client will tell their co-worker that you invented the internet before they’ll back off of the glowing things they said, because that’s how we’re wired.

Asking people to talk about their successes isn’t hard. We all like to say what good decisions we’ve made, even if we choose to only remember the good parts. So let’s make sure we get everything we can out of these experiences and we don’t leave anything on the table.