Social proof is powerful.
It’s why you ask your coworkers how they liked the new sushi place down the street before you risk trying it yourself.
It’s why Facebook prompts you to recommend your local hair salon.
And it’s why authors and publishers ask other writers and influencers provide glowing blurbs for book covers. (Is ‘unputdownable’ even a word?)
Reviews like these don’t only influence smaller B2C purchases, including up-dos, dragon rolls, and your next beach read. They’re crucial to building trust with and influencing B2B decision-makers, which means they should be important to sales teams.
But the role of online B2B customer reviews in sales is often misunderstood. That can’t stand, particularly when reviews are the second-most-sought item during online research, behind product information and ahead of discounts and deals.
Let’s repeat that for the people in the back: during the research process, people value online reviews more than ways to save money! I mean, could you even ask for a more positive review of reviews than that?
Customer reviews are crucial to your sales success. Here’s what not to do to help your sales team get the most value out of your company’s customer reviews.
8 ways people prevent customer reviews from adding value to the sales process
1. Not asking customers to leave a review for you
Only about 1 in 10 of your happy customers will leave a review. However, unhappy customers will tell everyone.
Prompt your happy clients to review you online. Don’t forget to make it easy for them by reducing friction and the number of clicks involved in leaving a review.
Some other ways to ask for reviews:
- Show messaging requesting reviews to your most-engaged clients in your app or website
- Run an email and/or social media campaign soliciting feedback
- Offer a reward for those who leave an attributed review
2. Shying away from attributed reviews
It can be tempting to shortcut your efforts to get more reviews by allowing people to review you anonymously. More reviews must mean more positive reviews, right?
Reviews with names attached are actually substantially more positive. Research shows that verified buyers are more likely to give 4- to 5-star reviews whereas anonymous ones are more likely to give 1- to 2-star reviews.
Like anywhere else online, anonymity provides the necessary cover to say not-so-nice things without any of that negativity blowing back on the commenter.
3. Not responding to your reviews
When people take time out of their day to help you out by reviewing your company, you should thank them. Not only is this polite, but it also shows others reading the reviews that you take feedback seriously.
Showing appreciation is well and good for positive reviews, but what about neutral or negative ones? A brief ‘thanks’ comes off as insincere at best.
You probably can’t counter bad feelings but you should acknowledge them. Be upfront and honest about your limitations, but also don’t let bad information sit unchallenged. You can, for example, respond to a review that says you don’t have a key feature they wanted when you actually do offer it.
This doesn’t have to strictly be a sales function—responding could fall to your marketing, customer success, and/or product team members. But salespeople should at least be aware of what customers are saying in their reviews, how your company is responding, and where any disconnect might be happening to inform their future pitches.
4. Not sharing your customer reviews
Helping prospects find your reviews shows that you value transparency and builds trust. When you don’t offer up places where prospects can find your reviews, even if you have a great score, it looks like you have something to hide.
Make it easy for prospects to find peer reviews. Create a section on your company website for case studies and share links to sites that collect reviews from verified users like G2 Crowd and Capterra.
5. Deleting bad reviews
Nobody likes getting a bad review, but prospective customers love reading them. So much so that they’ll be wary of a company with few bad reviews or none at all.
In fact, the quickest way to tell if a company’s reviews are left by legitimate clients is to look at the neutral to negative ones. For example, red flags include not providing specific reasoning or offering an “out” that takes the blame off the company.
Like, “I didn’t like this product but we only used it for one week so maybe that wasn’t enough time to see results.” These sketchy reviews hurt sales more than help and you’re more than justified in removing them.
Not only should you leave negative reviews by actual customers up, but you should also try to respond to them, as mentioned above. Many other prospective clients are going to be reading these reviews and you want them to be getting a true picture.
6. Going for perfection
The other positive outcome of keeping more neutral or negative reviews around? It turns out that a perfect review score is a perfect way to turn prospects off.
Having an impeccable rating can actually be detrimental to your sales results. Research shows that purchase likelihood peaks in the 4- to 4.7-star range and decreases as the ratings approach a flawless five-star rating.
7. Thinking that reviews only influence smaller B2C purchases
When a buyer is on Amazon looking for the best running shoe, reviews can be important. But do people really care when you’re selling higher-priced B2B products and services?
Yes, even more so, actually. Studies have shown that for lower-priced products, online reviews increased the conversion rate by 190% while having reviews for higher-priced products increased the conversion rate by twice that amount.
8. Thinking that reviews only matter in top-of-funnel marketing
Getting and managing reviews isn’t the sole domain of marketing.
Though reviews are important during the awareness and consideration stages up at the top of the sales funnel, buyers also use reviews during their selection and purchasing process.
This could include reading reviews for the shortlisted vendors to compare implementation expectations or including review data in their purchase recommendations to other decision-makers.
How to prioritize customer reviews in your sales organization
You don’t need a million reviews to use them to boost your sales process.
Having at least five online reviews can improve your conversion rates by 270% so make sure all your products/services have at least a handful of online verified reviews.
The verified part is important, as this kind of review increases purchase likelihood by 15% since they help nullify risks, especially for higher-priced products and services.
Here are three ways to get more social proof for your business:
1. Give your product or service away through free samples or free trials
More people using your offering means more people with firsthand knowledge that they can use to leave a review.
2. Make it easy for customers to review you
Provide quick links and obvious prompts when asking people to leave a review. The less friction involved in the review process, the more likely people will actually submit one.
3. Make sure your review process asks specific questions
Don’t settle for yes or no answers. Ask questions that are sure to get robust answers and detailed explanations. People tend to seek out more in-depth B2B reviews that talk about aspects like usability and features, support, implementation, ROI and achievements others have realized in using the product or service.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget about other social proof channels
User reviews are great, but they’re not the only social-proof game in town.
Other ways to build confidence in the eyes of your prospects include:
- Encouraging more direct referrals from your existing clients. People tend to trust their friends and colleagues.
- Displaying customer count or usage numbers. Show how many people or companies use your product or service or how much money your clients have made. (FYI, as of writing, winning proposals sent by Proposify customers have brought in more than $50 million in the last 30 days!)
- Seeking out endorsements. These could come from celebrities and industry experts or co-branding opportunities with established, complementary companies.
- Highlighting any certifications. Let people know if you’ve been validated by a third party, like the Better Business Bureau, or featured on an industry best-of list.