The key to long-term career success is not just obtaining agreement; it’s about obtaining agreement again and again and again: Creating perpetual yes.
Several ways exist to help you ensure this cycle of yes — beginning with the obvious: Perform outstanding work. Nothing gets to “yes” more frequently than past success. Now that you’ve succeeded with one persuasion priority, get ready to create perpetual yes by understanding how to create, acquire and leverage testimonials, referrals and personal persuasion evangelists.
A testimonial is static evidence of success (a letter, email or recording), a referral is someone who specifically recommends you to another person for a specific intent, and a personal evangelist is someone who actively sings your praises. You’ll need all three if you want to create what I refer to as a career of perpetual yes.
If you have testimonials and evangelists without referrals, you’ll have no pipeline with cool projects and opportunities. If you have referrals and evangelists but no testimonials, there’s no evidence of your success. If you have testimonials and referrals without evangelists, you’ll lack momentum. Build your rock star career with all three.
A testimonial is an endorsement of either you or your team. It can speak to character, skill, or result, and it can be in written form, a video or a voice recording. Even a personal reference counts as a testimonial.
I’ve never met anyone who said testimonials don’t matter. Then why don’t more people go out and get them? The best persuaders are constantly accumulating testimonials (just like trophies) for projects well done.
The best way to capture testimonials is when that window of opportunity opens. In social exchanges, that might be when someone compliments you or thanks you. Shyness won’t help you here. Let’s say your happy target shakes your hand, smiles and says, “Thank you! You’ve done a great job on this project. You did everything we talked about and got great results we needed. Thank you!” If you respond with a “Happy to help” or a plain and boring “You’re welcome,” you’re missing a huge opportunity.
You’re target is pleased, so now is the time to ask him for a testimonial. He’s more than likely to say yes than at any other time in the future. But people don’t ask, because they don’t know how, they don’t know what to say, they consider doing so rude or they fear rejection.
When requesting a testimonial, I suggest something like this: “Happy to help. We’re glad the project turned out so well. We’re always trying to spread the good news of what we’re doing in the sales division. Would you take what you’ve just told me and put it in a quick email message so I can show others how pleased you are?”
Get testimonials any way you can. I’ll take a testimonial via text message, email, voicemail message or iPhone video. Sometimes, your happy target might even say, “Write something up, and I’ll give it a look.” Done! Video is most compelling, but I will do whatever the other person prefers in the moment. Don’t be bashful about pulling out your camera or phone right there and shooting 30 seconds of spontaneous support! Don’t fear rejection, either. You can’t walk away with less than you walked in with! You’re simply trying to create leverage to further your goals.
The greatest aspect of testimonials is that they can be used all the time, with both internal and external clients, buyers, and targets. Drop them into conversation with others: “This project is important, and we’re confident about our projections. I know you know Anne Emerich in product development. We worked with her on a big project last quarter. She used the word ‘astonished’ when she described how close her actual return matched our projection.”
Pull pithy quotes and add them to your email signature, too — “the best marketer in Dallas!” — and provide references to them in your proposal cover letters and other materials.
Next time, we’ll focus on referrals.