When customers buy your product or service they can leave you or your company an online review. This review might be about their buying experience, how satisfied they are with the product/service, or how happy they are with your customer service. These online reviews are usually posted either on your website or a third-party aggregator.
Before review sites ruled the internet, the process for dealing with unhappy prospects or clients was pretty straightforward. If you contributed to a bad sales experience, the customer might call your boss, threaten to write a letter to HQ, or maybe even go to the Better Business Bureau. Your manager would take the heat, apologize, and promise it would never happen again.
Fast forward to 2018, where every salesperson is like an NFL quarterback on Monday morning. Everything you say to a prospect, each action you take, and every email you send is under scrutiny -- and on record.
These communications will be reviewed and evaluated by prospects, managers, and the general public alike. And if you screw up today, your mistakes might end up on the internet dragging your name and your company’s reputation through the mud.
So, how do you sell in the age of review sites? I’m sharing my tips below.
Make More Sales Using Online Review Sites
We break prospect and client scrutiny into two categories. First, you have formal review sites that professionally compare companies, products, and services to help prospects make good buying decisions. Second is general reputation and ad hoc evaluation of you and your sales process by prospects you’ve communicated with. But let’s start by discussing product/service reviews.
How to sell using product/service online reviews
1. Know the Landscape
Whether your customers are on G2 Crowd, Yelp, or Capterra, it’s important to know where they’re leaving reviews and build your vendor profile accordingly. Customize them with pictures, contact information, and a company overview. And don’t forget to respond to reviews when appropriate.
If a customer writes a glowing paragraph on your Facebook or Yelp page, comment with, “Thanks for leaving us a review! We’re so glad you’ve had such fantastic results using our product. Our proverbial doors are always open if there’s anything we can do to enhance your experience.”
Seeing real-time responses like this gives your business a more authentic first impression for those searching for reviews and wishing to leave one. This can also be a good indicator of clients who might be ready for an upsell.
2. Understand Good and Bad Reviews
It’s bound to happen; Someone’s going to leave you a bad review. It might even be a mostly good review with constructive feedback tacked onto the end. When appropriate, respond, thank the reviewer for their feedback, and briefly explain the steps your company is taking to address these points.
It’s easy to write off negative feedback as a one-off experience or needy customer, but how you handle these interactions is crucial. You never know when a prospect will bring up a negative review on a discovery call or in a meeting.
Don't be argumentative. Be ready to explain how it happened and what you’re doing to address this challenge moving forward. And remember, it's O.K. to say, "You know, that wasn't my best day."
3. Source Reviews from Happy Clients
You should have a healthy number of positive reviews on your profile. To get started, send an email to your database of satisfied clients. A simple message is all it takes. Here’s a good template:
Hello [Customer name],
We’re so grateful for your business -- and judging from your last service rating, you’re pretty happy with us too.
We’re currently asking customers to leave us a quick review on [Link to review site]. We’re looking for three-to-five sentences on how your experience with us experience has been so far. And we welcome constructive feedback as well!
Thanks for your time and your business. We really do appreciate you.
In a Dan Tyre email, I would also throw in the offer of a free breakfast sandwich, if they oblige with a review -- but you do you.
Encourage clients to leave open and honest feedback. After all, if a prospect visits your profile and sees only glowing reviews, they might get a little suspicious.
4. Be Honest
If a prospect does reference a negative review in a meeting, avoid the temptation to get defensive. Listen, validate their concerns, and tell them how you’ve made the situation right. Now's also the time to explain how you’re proactively guarding against similar slip-ups moving forward.
For example, if a prospect references a review in which Company X waited two days for a critical issue to be resolved, you might say, “Yes, I understand your concern there. We worked closely with Company X to rectify the situation. We also comped their next month’s service fee. Currently, we’re working with our customer service team to ensure issue resolution time is under twenty-four hours.”
Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. HubSpot Co-Founder and CEO Brian Halligan says, "Constructive feedback is the breakfast of champions." Learn something from every interaction and piece of feedback you receive.
5. Be Niche
If you received a negative review that resulted from bad customer fit, address it. Simply explain, “Unfortunately, that relationship didn’t work out. They weren’t in our customer demographic, and the result was we were not the best solution for them. But we did help them find a vendor that was, and they’re in good hands today.”
You want to provide the best possible service to every client, and sometimes that means parting ways or sending a prospect elsewhere. Be honest about this, and it will go far in establishing trust with your prospects.
How to use personal reviews in sales
While you might not close business because you have a kick-ass LinkedIn profile, it can influence your prospect’s consideration and decision stage. How you present yourself professionally matters to your buyers, and it’s important to make a credible and professional first impression. Here’s how.
6. Understand Personal Reviews are Important
Everything you do in sales today is in a fishbowl, and your actions should be able to pass public scrutiny. With that in mind, be proactive in your correspondence with prospects.
Expect them to take emails out of context or misunderstand your voicemails, and take extra care when crafting each message you send. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell your prospect you’ll get back to them with a solution. And remember, the one time you stretch the truth or have a bad day could become your defining moment.
7. Cultivate Good Personal Reviews
Don’t overlook your own review page: LinkedIn. Prospects don’t just look at reviews of the product or service they’re considering. They also look at yours. So, make sure you’re asking clients to endorse your skills or write a reference on LinkedIn. A simple email like,
Hello [Client name],
I’ve really enjoyed working with you over the last few months, and I hope you’ve felt the same. With that in mind, I’d like to ask if you might write a reference for me on LinkedIn: [Insert link to your LinkedIn profile].
It would mean a lot to have two-to-three sentences from you on how I communicate, your experience closing a deal with me, and my follow up thereafter.
Thanks for your time, and please let me know if I can return the favor.
These things matter when prospects are considering a vendor. As a good benchmark, shoot for at least 10 endorsements or references from folks you’ve sold to.
8. Be Mindful of Your Social Media Accounts
Take a minute and Google your name. It’s likely your social media accounts appear on the first page. Prospects are going to click on them, and when they do, they should see a professional and helpful profile.
Share relevant articles and interact with industry influencers and clients. Think of these as informal reviews of your work, your communication skills, and your connectedness. Keep Twitter and LinkedIn accounts active, professional, and informative -- and impress prospects immediately.
Selling in the age of online reviews has its challenges. But it also connects you with prospects better than ever before. Make an authoritative and personable impression, takes a little effort, but the benefits will be well worth your while.