Reduce the Fear of Buying

(Listen to this post, here.)

As of this past September, and for the first time in 25 years, my wife Linda and I no longer have any children or pets (assuming there’s a difference) living in our house.

I have to admit, and although I do miss the daily buzz of activity we enjoyed over the past few decades, there are some positive features to this new phase of life:

Nobody coming in and waking us up at one in the morning.

No half-eaten bowls of cereal discovered days later in the basement.

No returning home at the end of the day, only to find every single light on in the house even though I’ve told you a thousand times to turn them off when you leave the room and by the way we’re not made out of money over here and … I’m sorry, what was I saying??

But the most notable change is the freedom. We can come and go whenever we like, whether that’s out to dinner, a music event, or even the occasional last-minute overnight excursion, all without needing to coordinate with anybody else’s schedule.

And so lately, we’ve been talking about taking it up a notch and spending a few weeks next winter in beautiful Costa Rica. Linda and I both work for ourselves (insert solo professional cheer here) and can pretty much work from anywhere.

All of which got me thinking that I should probably bone up a bit on my Spanish, by which I mean, learn some – I don’t speak a word. Even though the Costa Ricans are world renowned for their friendliness and patience, I’d like to be able to interact a bit more organically while we are there.


So I downloaded an app… the SpanishPod101 app, to be precise.

I like it a lot, and over the past few days, I’ve logged in several times for lessons, vocabulary and grammar tips.

Today, I received a pop-up on the screen: “How are you enjoying the app?” It gave me three icons as options to respond: frowny face, impassive face, smiley face.

I chose smiley, at which point I was immediately asked to rate the app and given a direct link to do so on the App Store.

To which I say, which just a hint of a tongue roll, brillante.

Not only have they put a system in place for capturing user testimonials, they’ve added a screening question: They make sure I like them (smiley face) before asking me to rate them. I’m confident that had I chosen the impassive or frowny face option, the app store link would not have appeared.

Has it helped? Well, they have a 4.7 star rating over about 5,000 reviews, so they appear to be strong in both quality and quantity.

Testimonials are Important for Us Too

I am continually surprised by the number of professional service colleagues and clients (of all types and sizes) who view testimonials as random, “nice if they happen,” events.

To me, that casual approach is a mistake – and a missed opportunity.

Remember, engaging the services of a professional service provider feels risky … would be clients can’t touch or feel or sample us.

And so while it’s important to have credentials, experience, an ability to clearly explain what you do, and all the rest, from the prospect’s perspective, we represent a roll of the dice. Other people singing your praises reduces that fear. (Hint: Frightened people are slow to take action.)

With that, two suggestions…

First, you need to be systematic about asking clients for testimonials. Sure, some people will do it spontaneously, but for most, you have to ask.

I send an email (shortly after the project is complete, when everyone is still basking in each other’s wonderfulness) saying, “Would you mind writing a few words about our work together that I could share on my web site?”

Second, you need to make it as easy as possible. Most people don’t enjoy writing and they may have no idea what to say. So while I invite them to write whatever they want, I also give them a few leading questions.

Things like…

What did you learn / how did you benefit as a result of our work?

What two things did you like most about the process?

What two things did you like most about working with me?

Would you recommend me to other people? If so, why?

What hesitations did you have about hiring me?

You get the idea. Simple, open, and prompting them to be specific about the experience and the benefits.

Here’s the bottom line. Testimonials are very powerful. When I see/hear someone who “looks like me” provide specifics about how wonderful it was to work with you, I feel confident that I may very well have a similar experience.

But, like getting your kids to turn the lights off in the basement, it doesn’t just happen. The more systematic and helpful you can be, the more of these you’ll amass over the months and years.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do your children ignore your requests too? Discuss.
  1. If you know Costa Rica, and have a terrific town that you recommend we stay in for a few weeks, please share.
  1. If you live in Costa Rica, and we promise to turn off the lights, can we stay with you?

Share your comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Reduce the Fear of Buying

  1. Michael Rhoda

    ¡Pura Vida, Amigo!
    If you want touristy, lots to see and do: Tamarindo area
    If you want beautiful beaches with quieter, low-key, relaxing environment but still good internet and restaurant options: Playa Guiones in Nosara
    If you want the best surf school in the World (IMHO): Surf Simply in Playa Guiones

  2. Stacey Shipman


    1. No kids, but the cats don’t always behave as well as I’d like. Does that count?
    2. Pura Vida indeed! We’ve visited CR 3 times – always a different location in the country. It’s amazing and we love it! All depends on what you want to do and how much you want to travel around. I would be happy to share our experiences. I love talking about and visiting the country!
    3. Don’t live there, can’t help with this one!

  3. Susie Amundson

    Michael, as solo entrepreneurs my husband and I also ventured off from Alaska to Costa Rica, 2 consecutive years to study Spanish. We had several requirements: Spanish language school + a beach + small town. We stayed in Samara on the Nicoya Peninsula (easy flight into Liberia and then 90-min shuttle) and studied at Intercultura You can’t go wrong here. We visited for the month of February and the only drawback was in Year 2, the weather was exceedingly hot. Hope you find your way there! Happy travels.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thanks Susie! Had not thought of attending a school while there, but that’s a great idea. Michael


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