If you are interested in selling more to more people in less time, testimonials are a vital part of the formula for success. If you’re not using them in your business right now, you are missing out on one of the most profitable sales tools...ever!

Why are testimonials so effective? Consider the story of legendary businessman W. Clement Stone. He built what would one day become a multi-billion dollar empire by selling fire-insurance policies door-to-door during the Great Depression.

There’s no denying that Clem’s knack for people skills was big part of his success. And he also had a little something extra—a binder overflowing with testimonials from his customers. Legend has it that that binder never left his side when he was knocking on all those doors. There was a good reason for that. It was chock full of stories—and not just happy accounts from people who were satisfied. It also told painful stories about how people had lost houses, husbands and wives to misfortune...and how relieved they were that, thanks to Clem, they had signed on the dotted line long ago, and now were covered. Frankly, after reading stories out of that binder, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could ever say no to him!

That’s the amazing power of testimonials. They work because they reaffirm for others what you already know is true. Testimonials back up what you say with social proof. They validate the feelings a prospect has for you, and they do so with a message that is unmistakably authentic and sincere.

Testimonials are a form communication, which according to a McKinsey & Company study, influences three quarters of all purchasing decisions. W. Clement Stone understood this—and that’s precisely the insight that you can get working for you, no matter what you’re selling. So let’s look at how you can harness the power of your satisfied customers.

Keep your ears open wide
When you’re talking to your customers on the phone, does anyone ever share with you a little story about how they were able to make great use your product or service? Check your email. Has anyone ever sent you a note just to say “thanks for the great work” on that last job you did for them? Or have you ever received glowing feedback from a client who responded to a survey that you sent out? Each of those is a testimonial, just waiting for you to act on it.

Ask and you shall receive
Remember our friend W. Clement Stone? He once famously said: “If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means ask!” When a client says great things about you, about your work or the products you sell, give them the opportunity to turn that praise into a testimonial. Simply ask: “I’d really love it if I could include what you just said in my client testimonials. Would that be okay?”

Newer customers are passionate
Get on the phone and call your newest customers. No matter which industry you serve, the most passionate praise you’ll find for your work and the service you sell tends to come from customers with whom you have only recently started doing business.

Repeat customers are wise and insightful
But by all means don’t ignore the wisdom of your repeat customers! Your repeat customers provide people with important insight about what makes your product or service worth coming back to—again and again. So make a point of calling up those that you have been doing business with for a long time and ask them why it is that they call on you.

Make it easy for people
One of the most common comments you’ll hear from clients when asking for testimonials is “Well I’m really not much of a writer, so it’s hard for me to put it in words.” The real power of testimonials comes from the fact that they’re not polished...they’re authentic and from the heart. A client we work with recently shared with me his secret about how he addresses this issue in his business. “When asking a client for a testimonial, I simply say ‘Finish this sentence in 25 words or less: I really like (product/service/person) because…’ This really works because it gets right to the point about the feelings people have for you, for what you do and for what you’re selling.”

Do unto others
Write testimonials for others with whom you do business and whose services have impressed you. It’s a good thing to do. It also helps to deepen those all-important reciprocal relationships. Plus testimonials you write about other sends an important message to everyone about the high standards you have not only as a supplier but as a buyer, too. Social networking sites are handy tools for doing this. Not only does it encourage reciprocity, it also helps you become part of a trusted network of professionals.

Make testimonials noticeable
As you build your collection of testimonials, you’ll need to find a place where people can read them. Lucky for you, you have a lot more choices than W. Clement Stone did back in the Depression-era. Not only can you put them all in a binder to show prospects, you can also include testimonials in other products...and most won’t cost you much more than a few minutes of your time. Here are some examples. Create a special web page devoted to testimonials. Consider ways that you can include sample quotes from that collection and feature them in steady rotation on the main page of your site. Another approach is to include a new testimonial on the signature line of every outbound email. The possibilities are endless and the potential benefits to your sales record can be quite amazing. Even lucrative!

** This article is from the book, Mastering the World of Marketing, by SelfGrowth.com's Founder David Riklan and Eric Taylor. To grab a copy, go to http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-World-Marketing-Ultimate-Training/dp/047...

Author's Bio: 

Colleen is driven by a passion for sales - and results. A successful sales professional for 20 years, she understands the challenges of selling in today's market and how traditional sales techniques from decades ago often fall short. Colleen has studied the habits of the top 10% of sales performers from organizations of all sizes and shapes - from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses. She has complemented conventional wisdom of the sales process with these proven techniques for a sales approach that gets results today.

Ask any of Colleen's clients about why they call on her services again and again and you'll hear a common refrain: she delivers results! Her refreshing candor, her genuine, sincere message, and the personal experiences she relates as a top ranked sales executive all are inspiring motivators for sales professionals who strive to get to the top and stay there. Just as important, Colleen is unwavering in her commitment to sales training that makes a lasting and meaningful impact on the corporate bottom line.

Engage with Colleen today at www.EngageSelling.com and learn for yourself why Sales and Marketing Magazine calls Colleen: One of the top 5 most effective sales training organizations in the market today!