7 Steps to Unleashing Crowdsourcing by Utilizing Testimonials

My wife drives a Toyota Sienna.  Do you know why?  It is because a couple of her friends do.  My family is going on vacation next month.  Do you know how we came up with Disney World?  We asked our friends on Facebook what they recommended.  This is what crowdsourcing is.  By definition, it is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people.

Courtesy of iStock Photo

Courtesy of iStock Photo

Crowdsourcing is not a new phenomenon, but it has never had more power.  Social media has brought the world to you laptop screen.  You can access more content and opinions – and quicker – than you ever could before.  People are making decisions this way.  You probably did today.

Did you know that over 80% of all due diligence starts with a Google search?  Do you know how many people trust a recommendation from a “friend”?  90%!  Do you know how many people are positively influenced by a Facebook ‘Like’ button from someone they don’t even know?  70%!  That number astounds me.

By contrast, only 19% of people now trust traditional advertising.  I’m talking about print, TV, or radio.  Do you know why?  Because the game has changed.  No one wants to hear you toot your own horn anymore.  They want to know about real people who have actually used your product or service.  They want a testimonial.

I plan on writing more in the coming months about the power of crowdsourcing and how you can maximize its advantages.  But today, I want to give you 7 steps to harvest testimonials.  There are a dozen ways to repurpose them once you have them.  First, though, you have to get them.

7 Steps to Getting Testimonials

  1. Make a list of your top client relationships – This is obvious, but you first need to list those clients from whom you would like a testimonial.  Consider who was in love with the service or product your provided.  Consider who has the most clout.  Who are those people who you have done business with who can sway the most people in your direction?  Write them down.
  2. It doesn’t matter how dated the client relationships are – Don’t be concerned if these clients go back years in the past.  It doesn’t matter as much when you provided value, but that you did.
  3. Write the testimonial for them – Typically, you are going to send an email request.  For the first one or two, write the testimonial for them.  It should read, “I’m writing to respectfully request that you write a couple of sentences as a testimonial for the service I provided.  I’m looking for something like this…”  Spoon feed it to them.  Then let them know that if what you wrote is accurate, you are happy to use it as their words – with their blessing.  This is the quickest path to obtaining a testimonial.
  4. Use peer pressure – Once you have your first one or two, introduce peer pressure.  You can accomplish this by including the testimonials you have already received as examples of what you are looking for.  This demonstrates that others are providing these testimonials.  Peer pressure can then kick-in encouraging them to follow suit.
  5. Engage their competitive nature – By providing testimonials you have already received as examples in your email request, you will engage their competitive nature.  Your client is likely to want to give you a testimonial that out-does the ones you have already received.  Over time, this can really work in your favor.
  6. Make it easy – I have a coaching client who has collected recommendation letters for years.  He has a book of them.  It is very impressive.  It also took a ton of work to accomplish.  I’m not saying this is a bad idea because it is not.  I am saying that you will have more success more quickly if you keep it simple.  Use email.  Ask for a couple of sentences.  Provide examples.  Make it as easy for them as possible.  You are interrupting them with your request.  The simpler it is, the more you will get.
  7. Systematize – To this point, I’m suggesting you look to the past for your testimonials.  Once you’ve accomplished that, then systematize the process.  Make it a part of your business to seek a testimonial from every new client you do business with.  Over time, you will develop a stable of clients that scream from the mountain tops how awesome you are.  Remember that 70% of people trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know!

I’d be so grateful if you would add to my list by using the comments section below.  What have I left off?  How have you put the power of testimonials to work in your business?

5 Podcasts that Will Make You Smarter

Recently, I was able to connect with one of my closest friends while driving home from a trip to Chicago.  This guy is the kind of friend that everyone needs.  He was in my wedding.  I was in his.  We were fraternity brothers at Murray State University.  He was the quarterback.  I was the receiver.  We even dated the same beautiful Southern girl (not at the same time) who I now get to call my wife.

iStockPhoto via jodijacobson

iStockPhoto via jodijacobson

He is the kind of friend when you haven’t spoken for a year, it is like it was yesterday.  Everyone needs at least one friend like this.  I am blessed to have a couple.

My friend was sharing with me an opportunity he has to leave the corporate world and start a business.  He has created something special that could be incredibly valuable to his customers and himself.  However, he told me that he doesn’t think he’ll do anything because he doesn’t have a clue about starting or running a business.

Fifteen minutes later I had brain-dumped all this information on him.  Now, I have started a business (that failed), and I have owned a business that I sold.  But the stuff that I was telling him surprised me.  How did I know this stuff?

Then it occurred to me that I was repeating a lot of great information that I had learned through listening to some incredible podcasts from businesses leaders across the United States (actually, most of them are in Nashville).

If you are not familiar with a Podcast, it is literally someone recording themselves speaking about some subject.  It is much like a radio show.  However, you can download these podcasts on your iPod, iPhone, or other smart-phone or mp3 player.  You simply subscribe through iTunes – for free – and they automatically download whenever a new episode is published.

Before I share with you which ones I love and recommend, let me share with you how I consume this information:

  • While working out - I can kill two birds with one stone when I engage my mind and my body at the same time.
  • While driving – great content is so much more effective than coffee at keeping me alert.  Not only that, but I can transform my car into a classroom and make the most of every moment.
  • On a plane – I’m actually on a plane as I write this somewhere between Nashville and Atlanta.  Were I not writing, I guarantee that I would be listening to one of the following podcasts.

My Top 5 Recommended Podcasts

  1. This is Your Life, A Podcast by Michael Hyatt – If you aren’t familiar with Michael Hyatt, you should be.  He has a top 100 (in the world!) blog on intentional leadership.  He has recently written a New York Times Bestseller called Platform:  Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  His is by far my favorite blog and his content is amazing.  His podcast is awesome too.  He is authentic.  You end up just liking him.  I get to meet him next month at our company’s National Conference where he is giving the keynote address.  I am also going to his Platform Conference the following week in Nashville.  Can’t wait!
  2. 48Days Online Radio Show by Dan MillerDan Miller rocks.  A mentor of mine suggested that I connect with him last year.  I ended up hiring him as a career coach.  He is also a bestselling author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and other books.  His podcast centers around careers, business plans, business models, and other career related info.  You can’t listen to him and not get fired up about what is possible.
  3. Ray Edwards Podcast - Ray probably has my favorite podcast.  He is very transparent and genuine, and he basically let’s you in on his life.  He is a productivity freak (I mean that in a good way).  His podcast is broken up into segments which I love.  He has a main message of each podcast, but also has a tech tip of the week, a spiritual foundations segment, and a segment with Stu McLaren who is great.  Ray is also a marketing genius.
  4. Entreleadership Podcast – I can’t believe that this is 4th on my list, but the others are just that good.  This is the podcast from Dave Ramsey and his main man Chris LoCurto.  Every show has a short message from Dave that sets the theme, but then they move to a guest interview.  The guests are amazing and are a who’s who when it comes to business.  You can’t get this kind of access to this kind of wisdom and experience anywhere else I’m aware.
  5. Podcast Answer Man with Cliff Ravenscraft - This podcast is obviously a little more technical.  I include it because at least the first three podcasts listed above are a result of Cliff’s expertise.  He is the expert when it comes to podcasting.  I hope to introduce my own podcast this year so I have been studying up.  Cliff is also a Kentucky boy like myself!

In one sentence, these podcasts are like being able to sit at the feet of these guys and learn from their wisdom.  And it’s free!

So who do you listen to that I don’t?  Who would crack your top 5?  Let us know in the comment section below!

Update: Speaking Engagement: SVN #CRE Tech Tools Seminar – San Fran

Update:  Due to our scheduled session reaching capacity, I am pleased to announce that we are adding a second session.  The new session will be a morning event from 7:30 – 9:30 am at the same location.  I hope that you can join us!

I am looking forward to speaking at the Sperry Van Ness #CRE Tech Tools Seminar.  I will be demonstrating how our advisors use cloud-based marketing, CRM tools and other technologies to manage and grow their businesses.

Date:  Dec. 11, 2012 (Happy Birthday Dad!)

Time:  7:30 – 9:30 – seats still available

   12:00 pm – 2:00 pm – Sold Out

Event:  Sperry Van Ness #CRE Tech Tools Seminar

Topic:  Cloud based Business Management and CRM technology demonstration

Sponsor:  Allen Matkins Law Firm

Venue:  Three Embarcadero Center, 12th Floor

Location:  San Francisco

Public:  Open to all CRE brokers/owners/managers

Registration:  Click here to register.

SVN Tech Tools Image

Click here for more information about having me speak at your event.

Speaking Engagement: SVN #CRE Tech Tools Seminar – San Fran

I am looking forward to speaking at the Sperry Van Ness #CRE Tech Tools Seminar.  I will be demonstrating how our advisors use cloud-based marketing, CRM tools and other technologies to manage and grow their businesses.

Date:  Dec. 11, 2012 (Happy Birthday Dad!)

Time:  12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Event:  Sperry Van Ness #CRE Tech Tools Seminar

Topic:  Cloud based Business Management and CRM technology demonstration

Sponsor:  Allen Matkins Law Firm

Venue:  Three Embarcadero Center, 12th Floor

Location:  San Francisco

Public:  Open to all CRE brokers/owners/managers

Registration:  Click here to register.

Click here for more information about having me speak at your event.