Why We Refuse To Offer Client References & Testimonials

Client references & testimonials are a false God.

References and testimonials are used by salespeople to do what they themselves are unwilling and/or unable to do. Sell.

I would go so far as to say that many salespeople (perhaps even most) use the Client reference & testimonial essentially as a "Hail Mary". 

As a business and property owner, I periodically engage potential consultants. I do not request references for three reasons.

  1. I do not know the acumen of the reference / testimonial provider.
  2. The supposed successful vendor strategy that may have worked for that helpful reference-provider may not work for me. 
  3. The Lake Wobegon Effect. - Only the best references and glowing testimonials are shared.

The need for Client references and testimonials is a very bad sign.

Your Prospect's "need" for Client references and testimonials is a dead canary in your "sales cave".

When your Prospect feels your salesperson is not credible, they often default to requiring Client references and testimonials.

When your Prospect is not the decision-maker nor your ideal target persona, they require Client references and testimonials to reduce their perceived risk. These people aren't likely to close anyways.

When your salespeople cannot do the job they are paid to do, your Prospect defaults to a Client reference / testimonial to do the job of your salespeople.

  • Choose your your salespeople carefully.
  • Choose your Clients just as carefully.
  • Stop using Client references / testimonials as a selling crutch.


Artisans don't require Client references to close for them.

If you offer a commodity, you are definitely not artisan. If you are trying to sell a commodity, the Client reference / testimonial is probably all you've got to differentiate you from the other commodities.

Get out of the commodity business.

Artisans are the value-add that some will pay to have access to. Artisans don't have a need for Client references to sell for them.

Several years ago I met a true artisan carpenter. He could build anything out of wood and everything was beautiful - even what you could not see. This artisan carpenter blew me away by how he engaged me with his questions and ideas. He clearly loves his profession. He chose me as much as I chose him.

This freak of nature was already busy. He didn't want to be more busy; he wanted to be the "right busy". This carpenter sought to do work that mattered for those who truly had the capacity to appreciate his passion. He didn't offer a Client reference nor did I need one. I knew within three minutes of meeting with him that he was the obvious choice. 

Client references and testimonials are a false god

The services we provide are a competitive trade secret to our Clients.

Several of our Clients do not permit us to disclose our partnership. 


Get clear about who you are and aspire for greatness.

My team and I aspire to be artisan like our carpenter. We are clear about who we will work with and who we will not. We are laser-focused on doing what we do well.

Get clear about the value you create. 

We use a data-driven approach to help our Clients consistently identify the top 20th percentile of salespeople who produce 80 percent of the sales results. Our best Clients mirror our passion and pursuit of excellence.

Are you clear about who you are and who you will work with?

Are you the best in your business? 

Are you carefully hiring only the best salespeople to represent your brand?