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PowerHour No. 3: Ask for Testimonials

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This week’s first PowerHour was Update Your Profile  – so you may be wondering why testimonials weren’t covered in that post. But while it’s true that there’s some overlap, testimonials are important in many other contexts other than online profiles – and for some profiles – such as LinkedIn, testimonials (at least from former clients) aren’t all that useful.

You can ask for numerous testimonials in an hour. However, as discussed below, I don’t recommend spamming former clients with a generic request, or canned copy  on what they should say (not only does suggested language sound disingenuous, it likely violates most ethics rules on testimonials). You’re better off sending eight or ten personalized requests that will actually produce results than hitting your entire mailing list. Below are tips on how to make the best use of your hour to generate valuable testimonials that will help persuade other clients to use your firm.

Decide where to post   As mentioned, there are plenty of places besides Avvo to generate client testimonials. Some lawyers who don’t have active profiles prefer to post testimonials directly on their website. Other lawyers may gain extra juice by encouraging testimonials or reviews on more general consumer sites like Google or Facebook. Whatever you do, be sure to avoid asking the same client for testimonials at two different review sites.

Who to Ask   In my view, the most powerful testimonials come from clients who used your services in the past. If you’ve just started a firm and don’t have your own clients, you could try reaching out to clients you worked with at your former firm, or perhaps a supervisor or manager at a previous job.  Many times – particularly on LinkedIn or a lawyer’s website – you’ll see endorsements from colleagues. Frankly, those endorsements don’t really impress me; many times, the colleague hasn’t even worked with the attorney and sometimes, it’s obvious that the colleague leaving the testimonial is a law school friend or even a spouse. If those are the only testimonials that you can find, you’re better off without.

How to make the ask   Email is by far the best way to request a testimonial, since you’ll want to testimonial in a digital format. Because Google and Avvo both want to encourage users to generate testimonials (since it results in increased traffic), they both make the process seamless – you can request testimonials directly through their platforms, and both sites have fairly detailed instructions on how to do so.  See Google – How to Request Reviews  and Avvo – How to Request Reviews. But you can also request a testimonial by email and ask for the recipient to provide it in the reply.

What to say in the ask?  Let’s face it, asking former clients for testimonials can be awkward – you either feel as if you’re fishing for compliments or you may even be nervous that past clients will decline to provide a testimonial because it turns out, they weren’t impressed. Moreover, most likely, the clients you’re contacting already paid you good money for your services – and you fear that they may feel that their payment was reward enough.

So what I’ve done in contacting clients for testimonials is to make the ask by thanking and complimenting them. Not only does this approach make a testimonial more likely but it also acts as a subtle prompt for what you may want the client to say.

Here’s a sample testimonial request that you can insert this directly into the Google or Avvo template:

Dear _______________,

[Introductory – something related to your representation] I drove by the State university campus today, and your case came to mind. I remember that your son had just been accepted to State U and how committed you were during your divorce case to ensuring that he would not have to alter his plans for financial reasons. I am glad that we managed to work that out, and I hope that you are both doing well.

As I make my professional plans for the coming year, I am hoping to represent more clients such as yourself who must stand up for the children’s interest against a less than cooperative spouse. I was hoping that you might be willing to take just a few minutes to provide a testimonial about my work on your case so that others in your shoes will feel comfortable in hiring me.

I am sure that you are very busy, and I really appreciate any brief response that you can provide. [provide any instructions on how to submit the testimonial if it’s not obvious).

Thank you.

______________

This type of request may encourage the client to either discuss her specific experience or share characteristics of your representation that will help you to attract similarly situated clients.

What not to ask   As mentioned earlier, don’t ask clients to complete pre-written testimonials: they sound fake and in any event, would potentially violate ethics rules. Also, though video testimonials are powerful, I’m not a fan of them for reasons discussed here  – but mileage may vary depending upon the type of case and client.

Next steps  If you snag a couple of favorable testimonials, feel free to share them elsewhere on social media, or link to them from your website.  Moreover, even if your one hour yields only two or three testimonials, that’s still a pretty good haul and will position you way ahead of many of you competitors. Moving forward, you may also want to come up with a way to systematize testimonial requests such that you ask for them immediately after the client’s case is completed instead of following up years later.

Good luck. Up tomorrow: Power Hour No. 4: Be a Statistic.

Previous Power Hour Posts:

MyShingle Theme Week: The Power of an Extra Hour

Power Hour One: Update That Profile!

Power Hour Two: Seasonal Business Cards

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