When was the last time you asked a trade customer for a testimonial? Seeking testimonials and using them should be in every field sales persons (AND their managers) DNA. Genuine testimonials make powerful sales tools when used effectively. Plus they are free.
During a long B2B sales career it amazed me how the simple but powerful process of garnering testimonials and making effective use of them was rarely if ever used by my competitors. Strange as good quality testimonials are often simply there for the asking.
When a trade customer responded to a question by saying something positive about our products, service or sales support activities I would ask if he/she would mind if I quoted them. I would be clear how this material would be used e.g. in a marketing setting and/or in a face to face sales presentation. Sometimes the customer would be happy for the testimonial to be used in one or other setting but not both.
To be clear and certain I would send the customer a proposed text based on what they had said and confirm it’s intended use and ask them to confirm back to me that their testimonial could be used in the way stated. Top tip: If you leave it to the customer to send his/her written confirmation unprompted you will usually be waiting a very long time. People are busy so make it as easy as possible for them by sending a confirmation e mail.
Once you have a testimonial what are you going do you do with it? I would see to it than whenever possible testimonials were used in marketing material (sometimes the person giving the testimonial didn’t want this) but faster, more direct results were often achieved by showing the testimonials of say an existing customer company’s Area Director or Branch Manager in one region to a non-stocking regions Area Director/Branch Managers. Or to a buyer or to all the above. Some very positive developments occurred when I showed testimonials of existing stockists to a potential stockist I was trying to recruit. Either way, I would always include testimonials as part of a presentation either using an traditional presenter, a laptop in a one on one or small group meeting or in a slide show at a larger group presentation. After all these were the words of people working in the same/similar industry describing success with the products and service I was selling. They were far more powerful than anything I could say.
As you know best practice in B2B field sales is like sport in one important regard. It is about getting a lot of small things right. Testimonial opportunities almost always arise as a result of the salesperson asking the right questions. Another area for another day.