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6 Easy Ways to Get Customer Testimonials

By Casandra Campbell

Social proof is a very powerful persuasion technique. We are more likely to do something if other people do it first. So when you prove that other people like doing business with you, new customers are more likely to take the plunge.

Customer testimonials are a great way to leverage social proof for your business. They can be published on a designated page on your website, or they can be included on other pages such as your homepage, about page, or sale pages. Ultimately, testimonials are useful anywhere potential customers go to make up their mind.

If you don’t already have testimonials to use for your business, fear not! Chances are, you already have a lot to work with. Here are easy six ways to find testimonials for your website.

1. Check Your Email

Chances are, you’ve already gotten a few informal testimonials in the form of an email. Anytime a customer or client has something nice to say about your business, make sure you save it. With permission, you may be able to use this positive feedback as a testimonial in the future. I like to move flattering emails to a folder called "Testimonials" so I can easily find them later. 

If it’s not long enough, you can ask the person who praised you to expand on what they said. It will still be a lot easier than asking them to write something from scratch. Plus, by referencing a time when they were happy about the work you’re doing, you’ll remind them of the types of things they can write about.

2. Mine Social Media

Social media is a great place to find testimonials.

  • Twitter
    • Anytime someone says something positive about you or your brand on Twitter, make sure to “Like” it so you can find it later. Positive tweets can be quoted or embedded directly on your website.
  • Facebook
    • Facebook can be another great source of testimonials. Whether they’re posted directly to your Business Page, or somewhere else, you can "Save" the post for use later. Like Twitter posts, Facebook posts can also be embedded. If the post is not public, make sure to get permission before you quote it.
  • LinkedIn
    • Have you received recommendations on LinkedIn? LinkedIn recommendations make great testimonials for service providers. Even if you’re not a service provider, personal recommendation will still make your business look good. Like Facebook and Twitter posts, LinkedIn recommendations can be embedded, quoted, screenshotted.
  • YouTube
    • If you have reviews on YouTube, consider yourself lucky! Video testimonials are very effective. They are most common for products because many people like to film reviews and the process of unboxing new purchases but they are just as effective for freelancers. As long as the video is public, you will be able to embed it directly on your website.

Of course, these aren’t the only social networks where customers could be talking about you online. Pay attention to what people are saying everywhere on social media and make a point of saving positive mentions so you can use them later.

3. Review Websites

Review websites are also great sources of customer testimonials. Positive reviews are essentially testimonials already. The best part is they happen without any involvement on your part. Many businesses are prone to getting reviewed online. Be sure to check Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google Places, Angie’s List, Merchant’s Circle, and any other niche review websites your business or services are listed on.

4. Use Your Network

Most of us have done business with friends and family. In most cases, your inner circle will be very happy to provide you with an honest testimonial. Don’t be afraid to ask—they want to support you. And unless you share the same last name, your connection won’t be obvious to people reading your website.

5. Run a Survey

Have you ever run a customer survey? It’s a great way to get valuable feedback from your customers, good and bad. There’s also a good chance you’ll get some useful quotes you can use. Either way, a survey will help you figure out which customers to target for testimonials. This can be a robust survey you send out to all your customers once a year, or a simple email following a purchase, or something in between. Just make sure you get permission to make the information public.

6. Just Ask 

Finally, the only surefire way to get great testimonials from customers is to ask for them. People are always happy to help businesses they like. Those who have already said good things about you online are prime candidates for testimonials, but you can ask any of your customers. There’s no pressure to use it if you don’t like what they say.

Customer testimonials are a powerful way to leverage social proof and make more sales. Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to use, start collecting now. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to publish them on your website!

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How to Craft the Perfect Business Proposal

By Casandra Campbell

Hands writing a business proposal on a laptop

Landing clients is hard work. Especially if you’re a freelancer.

You know that the service you provide is better than big agencies. As an individual, it’s much easier for you to stay current in your industry and get your clients results.

But proving it seems harder. Especially if you don't know how to write a business proposal that converts.

It’s not your fault.

We all know slick freelancers who swindle hard working business owners. They land client after client, even though that have no clue what they’re doing. And the next time those businesses go looking for help, they’re skeptical. They don’t trust freelancers and you have to go above and beyond to prove yourself.

You spend hours putting together proposal after proposal, only to have the companies you're pitching go with a more expensive option that's just not as good. Or worse, no option at all.

Meanwhile, you’ve already given away hours of your time and you’re no closer to that vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Anyone can learn how to craft the perfect business proposal. One that consistently closes clients. Clients that are great to work with—and pay on time!

The kind of clients you want.

The Perfect Business Proposal

Here’s what a great business proposal does:

  • builds trust and confidence
  • addresses the needs of the decision maker
  • sets expectations and boundaries
  • proves your value
  • demonstrates problem-solving
  • closes the sale

These are critical elements for converting a lead into a client. Let’s break down how to do it.

Step 1: Do Your Research

Woman doing business proposal research

Consider the Decision Maker

Before you do anything, you need to think about who you're writing the business proposal for. Anytime you're selling something you need to know your audience. This is a huge part of creating an effective proposal. It should be customized to needs and preferences of the decision maker you're trying to persuade. 

Here are a few questions to think about:

  • What is their role in the company?
  • What is their primary concern in their professional role?
  • How is their success measured?
  • What can you glean about their personality?
  • What problem needs to be solved?
  • Why are they outsourcing this project?

Try to learn as much as you can about the decision maker. Put yourself in their shoes and imaging what you would worried or excited about. The more you know the better. Any information and perspective you gain can be used throughout the writing process.

Responding to an RFP?

If the business proposal you're creating is responding to a Request For Proposal (RFP), there are unique considerations.

The disadvantage, of course, is that there may be many people trying to land the same project. However, RFPs also carry a very important advantage. You probably already have a lot of useful information available to you. In many cases RFPs will tell your exactly what the company is looking for and you can tailor your proposal accordingly. Don't ignore it.

Still, even if there is a lot of information waiting for you on a silver platter, don't stop there. There are likely a many additional points you should be addressing in your proposal that are not mentioned in the RFP. In this case, a little research goes a long way.

Try and find out as much as you can about the decision maker and the context around the RFP. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Why does the company really want this work done?
  • What landmines are they trying to avoid?
  • What does success look like for this project? 
  • Who are the stakeholders?

If at all possible, try and actually talk to someone from the company. Some companies will refuse to take questions about an RFP but if they don't explicitly say so, try and get as much information out of them as possible.

Don't worry about looking bad. If they don't want to talk to you, they'll let you know. No harm done. In any case, it will show that you're smart, eager, and prepared. Trust me, the company wants you to understand its needs.

How to Gather Intel

Alright, aside from talking to the company, you might be wondering how to actually gather intel. You want to find as much data information as you can. Fortunately, there is more publicly accessible than you think. Here are a few places to start:

Customers and Clients

If possible, talk to customers and clients. They likely have a wealth of knowledge about the company, and more importantly, they have a very valuable perspective. If you can gather intelligent insights, they will strengthen your proposal and help you come up with good ideas and opportunities—as well as issues that need resolving. 

Competitors

Competitors can also likely provide a wealth of knowledge about the company you want to sign. Look at how they're similar and different. Look for strengths and weaknesses and compare them to the company you're pitching. If information about the company you're pitching you need isn't public, see if it is public for a similar company. You may even find an opportunity to actually talk to competitors. If so, make sure you don't disclose who you're pitching to or do anything that would make them look bad.

Industry Trends

Sometimes industry trends can be helpful and they're usually easy to find. Use Google, Industry publications, individual experts, trade publications, or any other sources you can find to get to know the industry. No matter what you find out, the business you're proposing will pick up on your familiarity with the industry. This will help them trust you.

After your research, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is the industry growing, shrinking, or undergoing significant change?
  • What types of products, services or features, are in high demand?
  • What external pressures are affecting the company you want to pitch?
  • What opportunities are opening up for them?

Don't Worry About Wasted Effort

Although it may seem like all this research is a lot of wasted time, it's not. Think of it as an investment. If you do enough work upfront, actually writing it will be easy. A simple matter of filling in the blanks. Most importantly, you'll be much more successful. 

Even if you do all the work and you don't win the project, it's still the right call. The fact is, you won't win every project, but the things you learn with each attempt will help you in the future. Whether you follow up and pitch that company again, or another similar company, it will only help not hinder.

Finally, when you do lose the occasional deal, use it to get feedback. Ask the company why they didn't want to move forward with your proposal. You'll be surprised how many people are willing to give feedback when you ask for it. Especially if you're friendly and polite and you make it easy for them. If you're asking by email, make it clear jot points are fine.

Know When to Say No

Finally, know when you should be the one saying no. It’s hard to imagine when you’re starting out or dealing with a cash flow crunch, but you're better off passing on projects that aren't a good fit for you. 

As you get to know the company or the project, watch out for red flags. Companies that are difficult to work with, have different values from yours and are otherwise not a good match. 

If you're not excited to start a new project, you won't do a great job and you'll hate yourself for it. In the end, you risk a sour relationship and a bad reputation that could follow you around. 

More importantly, doing work you don't enjoy will burn you out. That will make if harder to do the work you actually enjoy while devoting time to growing your business. 

Step 2: Write Your Proposal

Typewriter and notebook for writing

Outline It

Do yourself a favor and start with an outline. If you've already done the research, you'll have a good idea of what you need to include. After you create an outline, it's basically a matter of filling in the blanks. 

Generally, the bigger the budget and the newer the relationship, the more information you should include. It's about closing the trust gap. Give them as much information as they need to trust you and make the decision to move forward.

Fill It In

It's finally time to write your business proposal! If you've done the research, and created an outline, this part should be pretty easy. You already figured out what you need to say, now just elaborate.

Use competence Triggers

It's important to create trust and show that you're competent. The language you use will have a big impact on this. One important way you can do this is by stating your opinions confidently and emphatically. You're writing the document, everyone knows it's your opinion—you don't need to explain that. Instead of saying, "I think your business would benefit from social media", say, "Your business is losing money by ignoring social media".

Make it clear you understand their business. Whenever possible, tailor your writing specifically to their needs and challenges. Try not to leave room for assumptions or they'll worry you don't really know what you're doing.

Finally, include as much data as possible to back up your claims. If you can't find hard data, use quotes and anecdotes from customers and competitors. The company you're pitching probably spends a lot of time thinking about both so this will hit close to home.

Selling Yourself

Even if your proposal sounds great, they're going to be thinking a lot about you. Can they trust you, do you really know what you're doing, what are you like to work with. You may want to consider including a section about yourself. It should be brief but could include your expertise, any relevant training or experiences, awards, other credentials, testimonials, and references. You may also consider directing them to your website or portfolio, which could also house some of this information. Use whatever will make you look good.

Selling the Price

Hopefully, you're charging a fair but premium price for your service. If that's the case, you need to be conscious of how clients perceive it, and what you can do to convince them your services are worth it. One key way to do this is to explain how you can save the business money and/or make operations more cost-efficient. What is the bottom line impact of your services on the business? The closer you are to making your clients more money, the easier this is to do.  

To help clients feel confident handing over their money, there are few additional things you should include to show you're truly a professional, such as:

  • any contractual obligations on both ends
  • an intellectual property agreement
  • the expiry date on the offer and timeline
  • expected expenses and how they will be handled
  • payment due dates

Go Over Next Steps

The last thing you want is for the business to love your proposal but not know how to move forward. This is where things can really fall apart. You need to carry confidence all the way to onboarding them as a client.

Make it easy for them to say yes and get started. Include all the important details they'll be looking for, and go over how you'll get started. A few examples are:

  • what they need to do to accept the proposal
  • how you'll communicate
  • what you need from them to get started 

Polish It

Please, please do not leave your proposal to the night before. You must have time to edit. It sounds crazy, but a typo can be one of the first things that will get your proposal thrown out. Potential clients will worry about don't care or don't have attention to detail. Don't get filtered out because of something so minuscule. 

Another easy way to get your business proposal thrown out is to ignore the concerns of the company you're pitching to. Go back over your notes and the RFP (if relevant) to make sure you're hitting all their pain points. 

When editing for style, consider using simple phrases. It should be easy to read so short sentences and paragraphs will help too. No one wants to read a wall of text. Good writing is about effective communication. Don't confuse people. Make it easy for anyone to understand. Keep in mind, they might not know much about your industry or expertise so avoid jargon.

Also go back and look for places to back up your points. If there are any facts or other data missing, add them in here.

Remember, your proposal doesn't have to be perfect from the beginning. Save the polishing for the end and write the whole first. Otherwise, you'll get stuck.

Step 3: Close the Deal

Man buttoning suit

You're almost finished, don't blow it in the final seconds. Make sure you give your proposal to the right person. If there are instructions for submission, including where and how to submit, and what format to submit in, follow them!

Next, if you don't hear back,follow up. Check and make sure the decision makers don't have any questions or concerns you can address. Sometimes just asking is all it to takes for them open up. You want a chance to address potential issues.

Finally, if you don't get the job, remember to ask for feedback and then get back out there. But if you've followed all the steps in this blog post, the odds are in your favor!

Congratulations! You now know how to write a business proposal that closes! 

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