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Winning Sales Through Customer Testimonials

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office
        SoHoTIPS.com
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Comment The Post Below...

Greetings,

Have you ever attended a meeting that just dragged on with 
no point and no clear agenda? I hate meetings like those! 
What do you consider the worst kind of meeting? Is it the 
kind where one person does all the talking? Or when it loses 
focus? Or maybe you just hate all meetings! Whatever your 
opinion, check out our poll on http://www.SoHoTIPS.com and 
cast your vote!
   
Best,
Mandi

Be sure to visit the SoHo News and Tips blog!
SoHo News & Tips Blog

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NEWS & TIDBITS

- Enron Corp's former chief contact for investors 
  testified that the company fudged its earnings 
  figures with the knowledge of executives Jeffrey 
  Skilling and Kenneth Lay...

- Standard & Poor's on Wednesday raised the credit 
  ratings of UAL Corp. and its subsidiary, United 
  Air Lines Inc...

- Burger King Holdings "plans to file with the 
  Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial 
  public offering in late February or early March"...

- General Motors Corp. announced a $115 million 
  investment in a Baltimore-area plant...

- Hospira Inc. to close plants, cut 1,100 jobs...

- Nortel and Huawei Technologies announced they 
  are creating an Ottawa-based joint venture that  
  plans to develop broadband access products...

- German publisher Axel Springer AG abandoned its 
  3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) takeover of 
  broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG following 
  regulators' rejection of the deal...


         GopherCentral's Question of the Week

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Justice?

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                            *

Winning Sales Through Customer Testimonials
By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN 

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-
ion. 

"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 
in.

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. 

Continued below....

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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 
says.


DID YOU KNOW?

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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