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Winning Sales Through Customer Testimonials

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Winning Sales Through Customer Testimonials

On his way to work two years ago, Mike Welsh tuned 
into a radio talk-show and heard a caller rave 
about a pain-relief product. A second caller 
responded soon after, saying the testimonial 
persuaded him to buy, too. 

That's when inspiration struck, says Mr. Welsh, an 
executive vice president of strategic marketing at 
Expensewatch.com LLC. The four-year-old company had 
been looking for ways to find buyers for its soft-
ware that helps businesses automate travel expenses, 
purchasing and accounts payable, sold by subscript-

"It made me realize that the most compelling way 
for people to learn about a product is to hear 
about it straight from the horse's mouth," says Mr. 
Welsh. The company had been using direct-mail and 
other marketing strategies, but finance executives 
tend to put more weight on the views of their 
peers, he says.

Mr. Welsh recruited one of Expensewatch's first 
customers, a director of finance at a Texas 
manufacturer, who had sent a complimentary email 
about its products. The executive presented a 20-
minute speech, accompanied by an online demo 
Expensewatch created. About 75 participants called 

The conference calls are now done monthly. Mr. 
Welsh says Expensewatch didn't track the number of 
participants who became customers, but the number 
of clients has increased to 76 from about 30 since 
the calls began two years ago. First-time customers 
often mention them, he adds. 

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Expensewatch has hosted nine conference-call 
testimonials, which have been recorded and posted 
on its Web site, together with their online demos. 
Each testimonial covers a different program or 
tool and describes how it's used. Listeners can 
also get answers to their questions, on the spot 
over the phone.

To recruit speakers, the Plymouth Meeting, Pa., 
company offers to donate $250 to a charity of 
their choice. Participants are solicited through 
email invitations, search-engine keyword advert-
ising and notices on the company Web site.

John Schmid says the testimonial and demos helped 
persuade him to become a customer. In 2004, a 
colleague had recommended the software, so he 
played several archived online. "Testimony from a 
person of appropriate stature and in a relevant 
industry carries a lot of clout," says Mr. Schmid, 
chief financial officer at Rx3 Pharmaceuticals Inc. 
in San Diego. "It's nice to hear from the company, 
but what really helps get my attention is hearing 
from other buyers of a product." 

Not all the company's marketing initiatives have 
been successful. In 2004, it launched "Expense-
watch University," a free online one-credit course 
toward public-accounting certification. Four 
executives spent a week writing it, says Mr. Welsh, 
and the company paid $4,300 to have a certified 
course provider publish the material and oversee 
its usage. 

Intended to generate directs leads and word-of-
mouth marketing, the course has attracted about a 
dozen takers, far fewer than anticipated, says Mr. 
Welsh. "We bit off more than we could chew," he 


Present an effective sales presentation in this 
way: First, tell them what you are going to tell 
them (Executive Summary), tell them what you want 
to tell them (the details sections), then tell 
them what you told them (Summary and Conclusions). 
A business plan is ultimately a sales document that 
explains your business idea in a similar way.

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a 
line and let me know at mandi@gophercentral.com 

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