I’m going to ask you a question that could redefine the way you do business?

“What would you do differently if you only got paid when your customer gets a result?

Now, as someone who has done affiliate marketing for a few years, I can tell you that that’s actually a fun way to work. It’s way more motivating to work with clients who share results, and where you can see the impact you’re making.

It doesn’t have to be sales either. It could be staff retention, reducing sick days, saving them some tax, avoiding fines, there’s lots of “results” a business can get that contribute to the bottom line.

But it scares the crap out of most people.

It scares them because they’ve had too many dead-beat clients with no real business that they should never really have taken on.

In order to get paid under the new rules, they need to learn a new skill.

No, not copywriting, not media buying, not Jordan Belfort style sales closing.

They need to master the art of picking winners.

Picking winners is absolutely the shortest route to success, and it’s what Oxbridge and the Ivy League do brilliantly.

The fact that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of Harvard, then went on to become two of the richest men in the world shows that Harvard’s real skill is picking the right people, not educating them.

Let’s take our ideal of pay-when-our-client-wins, and take it a step further.

We don’t just want them to win.

We want them to tell everyone else that they won because of US.

Imagine you told your sales team tomorrow that they’d get commissions on testimonials rather than sales.

How would that change your client selection criteria?

What would they do to “game” the system?

Well, I’ve tried it, and here’s a few:

1. They’re picky as hell about the customers.

If you can’t get a result for a customer, you just don’t work with them.

My skill for spotting good offers was honed by testing multiple affiliate deals every day on a huge email database.

I figured out pretty quickly which ones were worth running, and they were rarely the high street brands.

They were usually more scrappy startups with a low-friction, high value offer to acquire customers.

2. The successes aren’t the same

You need to get to a certain volume of testimonials before they’re believable.

Typically that number starts at 3, and starts to tail off after about 15.

Getting 15 testimonials, dealing with one huge client after another can take forever. You can easily run out of cash before you get traction.

You need to pick early wins to get the testimonial.

The milestones are earlier.

In the terms of our offer structure, we’re reducing DELAY.

Small wins in 24 hours, not big wins in a year.

Having a great “taster” offer will really help with this.

Obviously you don’t need to stop there, but if you can look at the first month a client spends with you and find a moment where they have a breakthrough, set that as the point where you ask for your testimonial.

3. They ask for the testimonial, early

Customers don’t like surprises and they don’t like being put on the spot, but if you tell them early on that you’re going to ask for a testimonial at a certain point, they’re much more likely to be ok with it.

Be honest.

“The way we keep our prices down is our customer successes do a lot of selling for us.”

A good client will understand that this is a trade, and that if they refuse, that should affect the deal.

(In your early days, NDA’s should come at a hefty premium.)

4. They pick clients who are trusted and connected.

A testimonial from someone with a bad reputation for integrity can be damaging. People in the know will just assume there’s a back-room deal for it.

On the other hand, the more trusted that person is, the more weight it carries.

If they’re well connected, well, known, have big social followings or an audience of another sort, then that testimonial comes with built in distribution.

These are the real gold dust, and in some markets they know it. Celebrities only give the nod to a small number of products, and they’re often rewarded well for it. Other less image-conscious industries can be a easier to deal with.

5. They pick customers who give testimonials

Some people just don’t like admitting they got help.

I don’t know why, it’s a corporate cultural thing that causes real mental health issues, but it’s there in some businesses and you need to learn to spot it, or you won’t get the reward you’re looking for.

If you had to pick customers who’d give testimonials, one filter I’d look for is whether they’ve given them in the past.

Whether it’s Google Local, Amazon, or something bigger like Check-a-Trade or Clutch.co, I’d lean most heavily on the ones who are happy to talk about good suppliers.

Setting the foundations.

At the end of the day, getting a lot of testimonials comes down to a few skills.

  1. Designing a great offer
  2. Picking the right market
  3. Being good enough at what you do to get a result

I can’t help you with the last one, but the first two are covered in “An Offer They Can’t Refuse“.

Recently updated with 3 new offer breakdowns, so even if you’re an old customer, it’s worth taking a fresh look at it.