Or, asking by mostly telling.
You saw the headline. You clicked the headline. We both know what you’re here for, so let’s get to it!
What has always worked for me the few (more than 1 less than 10) times I’ve asked a client for a testimonial is starting the conversation with a short, friendly email on the topic of testimonials. I wrap it up by offering to write the testimonial myself and send it back to them for “personal touches.” They have consistently chosen this option and have very rarely actually added any “personal touches,” but I like to think it helps them feel comfortable knowing what their name will be attached to. This is something that worked for me in my journalism days and also a consideration I’d appreciate were the tables ever turned.
You’ll probably want to change some of this depending on your personality and how you communicate with your clients, but here’s what I would say…
“Greetings, [client name]!
I hope you’re having a lovely [Monday, week, holiday season, etc.] so far. I’m enjoying a [beautiful morning here in Minnesota, a lovely latte to start my work day, etc.].
I’m [finally putting the finishing touches on my professional website, planning some updates to my professional website soon, etc.] and I’d love the opportunity to brag about having you as one of my awesome clients! Would you mind sending me a short testimonial about your experience working with me on [content creation, content editing, coaching, SEO, etc.]?
If it’s easier for you, I’d be happy to whip up a testimonial and send it your way for you to put your own personal touches on.
Looking forward to hearing back from you!”
Now you can write each testimonial tailored to your experience with each client. Highlight the services performed and the achievements…achieved. At this stage, I look at any questions I had originally prepared to send to clients for said testimonials. These help me keep all the testimonials consistent, touch on topics I might otherwise overlook, and imagine each client answering in their own voice to add authenticity.
If you don’t get a response within a week, I’d recommend following up in the same email thread with something like…
“Hi again, [client name]!
I would love to write a testimonial about our work together for my professional website. I will be sure to send it your way for you to review by [tomorrow morning, the end of the week, etc.]. I will post it to my website on [one week from the date you said you would send it for review].
This puts a deadline on the whole testimonial request thing so it doesn’t keep getting pushed to the end of their to do list, rescheduled for next week on their calendar, or shunned to the dreaded second page of their inbox (Perhaps some leftover project manager guilt rearing its head there?). It also not-so-subtly nudges them to actually read the testimonial before it makes its way onto your website. While they know you and they know you would never put outlandish words in their mouth, some people crave control wherever they can have it. *waves*
Of course, this strategy might not fly for all clients—especially the least laid-back among them. Just use your judgment as you know your clients way better than I do.
Best of luck!