I was sitting in my office this morning, preparing my workshop for the Microsoft World Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington, DC, and I was thinking – what is it that I love about my job? What makes me get up in the morning and get excited about going to work?
My backyard is filled with a number of birds that are just singing their hearts out. It’s pouring rain but that’s not stopping them.  I’m drinking my tea, listening to them and their music is making me feel so happy. I thought, that’s it. That is what I love about what I do. I get to sing on paper. With words.
This year is my seventh year in business helping Microsoft partners submit their stories to the WPC Awards program. With over 3,000 entries and only 47 spots, I was thrilled to learn that two of my partners were selected as winners. Several others made it onto the podium as finalists. And for the Microsoft Canada Impact Awards, 100% of my clients have made it onto the short-list. Like the academy awards, for these partners Oscar night arrives in the form of a gala presentation at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC. We will have to wait until July 13th to learn who won.
In working with my clients and researching their stories I learned how quietly these companies are impacting the lives of their customers. Through hard work, talent and innovation, they have accomplished amazing goals. But pulling together the submissions took a little longer than expected. It would have been easier if they had followed these three simple rules for each project.
Rule #1 – Always get a written testimonial from your customer once you have completed the project. Things change. People move on. And six months after you’ve delivered the best solution of your life, the key players might not be around to enthusiastically endorse you the way you deserve. It only takes a few minutes at the end of the project. Never ask them to write the testimonial – no one has the time and the primary person who is interested in getting it is you. Instead, sit down with them over coffee and ask them to list the key reasons they are happy. What did they like about working with you? What value did you bring? Re-write their answers as a quote and email it to them, asking them to modify anything they don’t agree with and get it back to. (Doing it through email means you have proof of permission.) Note: Some companies have very strict rules about quotes and you may need to persist and go through their legal or PR department. Don’t let that stop you – do it anyway.
Rule #2 – Always document the quantifiable metrics with the customer of how the solution provided them with improvements. Everybody says “we reduced operational costs – we increased revenues.” Blah, blah, blah. If operational costs were reduced – find out by how much? Do a “day in the life” and figure it out alongside the customer. They will appreciate knowing the number too. For example, if Windows 7 increased start-up time, sit down and measure how long it took to boot up and access email previously versus how long it takes now. There’s a difference of 2 minutes? Great – now multiply by how many employees in the organization and translate it into what that means for productivity improvements.
Rule #3 – Always develop a one page Case Study with each customer project that includes Rule #1 and Rule #2 embedded in it. The study should be very short with a paragraph describing the customer, a paragraph describing the customer pain, paragraph describing the solution that solved the pain; and finally, a paragraph that shows the quantifiable benefit that the customer received.
In summary, make capturing customer testimonials a part of every project you deliver. Follow the three rules listed above. Don’t forget to sing. Everybody loves a good song.