How to Use Customer Testimonials to Improve Your B2B Marketing
Nobody has to tell you that the B2B sales cycle differs greatly from that of a B2C. For one, a B2B sale typically involves a much larger expense. It’s also a highly vetted decision, and not often an impulsive one. Specifiers, designers, engineers and choosy purchasing agents rarely rush to buy your product or service immediately after seeing an ad, direct mail or email.
The process of moving B2B purchasers from interested prospects to in-your-pocket customers can take a while—up to two years or longer. So the more relevant and helpful content you provide to nurture them along the sales continuum, the better.
That’s why first-person accounts, such as customer testimonials, are so valuable. In fact, according to a 2013 LinkedIn survey, customer testimonials have frequently edged out case studies, events, articles and white papers—even social media—as the most effective content marketing tactic.
B2B buyers tend to be a distrustful lot, especially when exposed to case studies, which are typically written by B2B advertisers who have a vested interest in controlling the story and its outcome. (Yes, you could tell both sides of the story, but that’s time-consuming and could plant seeds of dissent in a prospect’s mind.) In addition, the customer in your case study must sign off before you can use it—which could require many reviews, edits and levels of approval.
Articles, events and white papers often face similar skepticism. You’re walking a fine line between being an objective observer and someone with a sales quota breathing down their neck.
The horse’s mouth.
Instead, encourage your happy B2B customers to speak for themselves about their positive encounter with you, or your product or service. Their personal enthusiasm and credibility cannot be challenged. And the simplicity of sharing their first-person experience, whether in writing or on video, is refreshing, engaging and compelling.
If a testimonial seems daunting to them, ask them to write a review instead. Consumers post and read short product reviews on websites all the time. B2B user-generated reviews matter just as much. After all, they’re consumers too, just of different products.
Also, negative B2B reviews aren’t necessarily the red flags they can be in B2C. Prospective B2B buyers prefer balance over bias—the good and even not-so-good experiences—in order to make a more informed decision before they commit to a purchase.
Generating your own case studies, articles, social posts and white papers takes a lot of time, money and resources. A member of the team has to write and edit each piece of content, and then get it approved and produced.
Not so with customer testimonials, unless the customer specifically asks for your help. And be sure to offer your assistance–like creating an outline of topics to cover in the testimonial, writing a script, or providing a photographer or videographer—even if they didn’t ask for your help. It’s courteous and good business, making it easier for them to say yes to your testimonial request.
In the end, it’s a matter of trust. What people say about you matters more than what you say about yourself. And that could help you sell a lot of product.