How to Construct Reverse Testimonials ~ Sean D’Souza

A lot of testimonials miss the mark on providing the information customers need to make buying decisions. That's why I interviewed Sean D'Souza to learn how to construct reverse testimonials.

We Covered
  • The big picture and 7 red bags that illustrate the context around testimonials in buying decisions (01:24)
  • Bag 1: The problem, why the problem is important to address, and why it’s not a negative thing (07:06)
  • Bag 2: The solution, and how the solution is the mirror image of the problem (12:25)
  • Bags 3 & 4: Target profile & objections (13:57)
  • Bag 5: Reverse testimonials, and the critical role they play in buyer psychology (17:11)
  • The six questions to ask your customers to elicit the information you need to construct a reverse testimonial (31:31)
  • The high-level process to construct a reverse testimonial (42:19)
  • Final questions (45:44)
In a Nutshell
  1. Reverse testimonials provide the before & after picture necessary to squash objections
  2. To construct them, record individual video conversations with your customers on video, transcribe the recording, and edit the transcription into testimonials of various sizes, following a before & after structure with a supporting narrative. See this article for step-by-step detail on how to follow this process and construct reverse testimonials.
Full Transcript

[00:00:13] Jonathan: Ahoy, captain! Welcome to this super actionable podcast made for cohort-based course creators. I'm your host, Jonathan Woodruff. As a cohort-based course creator, you might have a course page where you sell your course, and on that course page, chances are pretty good that you have some testimonials, but did you know that unless you're using reverse testimonials, your prospective customers may not be getting the information they need to make a buying decision. 

That's why my guest today is Captain Sean D'Souza of He is the author of The Brain Audit, which includes a chapter that teaches you how to construct the aforementioned reverse testimonials. And not only that, but Sean is here right now to walk us through how to do it.
What's up, Sean?

[00:01:13] Sean: It's almost the end of the year. So not a lot. we wind down, start up in February, so yeah.

[00:01:24] Jonathan: Yeah, yeah. Winding down. Yeah, holidays are coming up. It's the end of 2021, another year.

So we could just dive straight into kind of the steps on how to create an effective testimonial, but I think context is super, super important here to understand what's going through the customer's mind when they're reading a testimonial so we really understand what the testimonials should be giving customers to help them make a buying decision. 

So, you wrote a book called The Brain Audit, and really, really insightful, and also actionable, um, highly recommend that everyone listening to this podcast. reads The Brain Audit. And in the beginning you talk about how the brain has a certain language, and we could have the most amazing cohort-based course in the world, but if we're not speaking the language of the brain to our customers, then they won't buy it. And you can, and you use an illustration of a conveyor belt to describe what's going on. So tell us more about this analogy of the conveyor belt and what it means to speak the language of the brain.

[00:02:28] Sean: Well, it's like this. Imagine you get on a flight and you put seven red bags on it, and then you get off at the other end, and you're waiting for your bags. And the first red bag comes out, and you're happy. And then the second one comes out. The third one comes out, and then you have an orange bag, a purple bag, a green bag.

Then the fourth one comes out, the fifth, the sixth. You had seven. You've got six. Now, when do you leave the airport? And the answer is obvious. You don't leave until you've got all of those bags and that's kind of the slow motion of what happens in a customer's brain at high speed. 

So if you're going to buy a refrigerator, for instance, you're going… these are the kinds of things that I'm looking for, but if you're always talking about benefits and features and stuff, but in The Brain Audit, we actually slot this down as problem, solution, and so on. And essentially the first part of The Brain Audit is the attraction. What causes you to decide I'm going for this?

And then the second part of it is how much of a risk factor there is, and finally, when I know all of the facts, why should I buy from you? Why can’t I buy the fridge from someone else? Why can't I buy the course from someone else? 

So the brain goes through this, and when it goes through this at chewing gum speed, when you buying chewing gum, if anybody buys chewing gum anymore, then it doesn't have to make so many of those decisions. The bigger the price tag, the more the effort that needs to be put in… you know, like a course, then maybe it lasts for three months or six months, well the more it has to go through all of these processes. And if we look at the attraction phase, essentially what we're looking at is the problem, the solution, and the target profile is, is this me? It's not an audience.

So essentially what happens is you have target profile and a target profile is a real person. So a real person like Susan or Marie or somebody is buying your course, and they are deciding how to go about it. And they have to relate to a specific problem. And then a solution.

And what happens on the internet is you can go over course after course after course or product after product. And it looks generic. Like when you go on Amazon, you don't know what to buy, unless someone has told you, or until you've read the testimonials, which we'll get to. But the reason why it's so generic is because they're all sending out the same message and they haven't done a target profile.

So the main thing is that you have to have a target profile. That target profile has a problem, which then leads to a solution. And that kind of starts off the attraction phase, which is now that I've decided this is kind of what attracted me. But as soon as we go through that attraction phase, we go through the same thing that we go through when we're dating. The moment we start to get serious, we go, oh, wait. So, immediately we start to put in the barriers and that's risk. So we start off with target profile, problem, solution, but then we go to objections. We go to risk reversal, testimonials, and then finally to uniqueness. So there is all of this stuff going on.

And when we look at a fridge, for instance, or a computer we go, well, or better still a new phone… a new phone is the best because you already have an old phone and the old phone is already superb. It's not like your phone is from 20 years ago. It's just so it's like, why should I buy an iPhone 73 instead of an iPhone 72?

You know, it's that kind of thing. It's like, what problem is it solving for me? Am I the right person to buy it? What solution does it have? And then, of course, if you, the moment you go and you tell your partner, I'm going to buy a new iPhone, she probably goes, what do you already have? And you have these objections yourself, and then you have testimonials after that, and you read those testimonials and you go, oh, this is the reason why I'm buying it.

So in effect, by the time we get to testimonials, we're looking for stories from other people who have experienced that whole journey before us, or the problem, the solution, or whatever. We're looking at that journey and we're going, oh wait, they have the same issues, how do they overcome it? Why did they overcome it? Why have they decided to buy iPhone 73 when they already had iPhone 72? That's kind of where we stop or how we get to the testimonial phase, which is we've already decided, but we're still unsure.

[00:07:06] Jonathan: Okay, that makes so much sense. So we have seven bags at the airport, all red bags and we're waiting for these to go through. And just to summarize everything you're saying really briefly, just to check myself here too. So, we have seven bags. Bag #1 is the problem, and this is the attraction phase. So we need to attract the customers to our cohort-based course.
And number one, the first thing we need to address in their brain is the problem. And, actually before we go further too… let's pause there just a little bit. 

So, we need to address the problem, with, so like, I can hear my listeners saying, okay, you know, we need to tell our customers what the problem is, but that sounds kind of like it's giving a negative energy. It sounds kind of like aggressive marketing to bring the problem up. So, why isn't that the case? Why do we need to bring the problem up, but also why isn't it a bad thing? Why doesn't it bring bad energy to just start talking about the problem right away?

[00:08:05] Sean: Yeah. People only buy something because it's solving a problem.

That's kind of why you invented your own business in the first place. So say, I don't know, you start up a car repair service. They're already a million car repair services. Why did you start it up? You're trying to solve a problem in a way that nobody else has done before or in a different way. So I go to a place that washes my cars.

There are like a thousand of them in Auckland. But, you know, when I get that car from that guy, like it is like a brand new car. There's not an inch of dust everywhere, and any charges more than everybody else, but that's the problem he solves. He makes my gritty car into a brand new car. That's what the problem is.

That's why you start up a business in the first place. So if you go, oh, that's negative, then wait, you shouldn't be starting up a business. You shouldn't be selling a product because there are already 1000 of your products out there. They're already a million of your services out there. You know, a new, a lawyer starts up a new law firm not because it's like, oh, it's nice and trendy to start up a new thing.

But because they're going, we're going to do this slightly differently. We're going to take the same issue. I'll give you an example. Let's say you're a website developer. And there are now probably 10 million website developers. What's the problem? There is no problem. The obvious problem is I'm going to build a website, but then when you speak with a client, you have to kind of isolate which client am I speaking to? Somebody who knows nothing about websites or somebody who's had websites before? 

So, if you look at us at Psychotactics, we've had Psychotactics, we have 5,000 BC and we've had loads of other websites. And the biggest problem that we had was that we'd get a website developer, they'd build the website and then we'd get locked out of our own website.

Every time we had to fix something, we had to go back to them because they would close up all the rooms and they would go, okay, you can access this room, and then we'll be stuck. So that is a problem that we were looking to solve when we started to build our website. And when you say problem, of course, it sounds negative.

But the client is looking to solve a problem. And if you just bring up the solution, which is, oh, you can build a nice website. You've lost me because now you're competing with 2 million other guys who are saying the same thing. But when you say, “if you are building your first website, you don't know right now that you can be locked out of your own website.”

And now what you're doing is you're aiming specifically at the person who is building their first website. But if you're looking at the second website, you can send the same message, which is “if this is the second website you're building, you probably know that you got locked out of your first website, and this is how you get locked out.”

Now what you're doing is you're driving home a message in a way that they have never experienced before. Yesterday for instance, I was looking to get my house washed, so they have water blasting. I dunno what you call it. I suppose it's the same everywhere. 

Jonathan: Pressure washing?

Sean: Yeah, here it's called water blasting.

There's more pizazz to it. So, um, I went to look for water blasting and they were like, as you'd expect, you know, the full first page of Google. And then I go, why water blasting is terrible for your house? Of course. I want to read that. So when you say that, then I click on that link and I got in touch with a guy because he gave me the reasons why water blasting was terrible for my house.

And I could see what he was saying. The doors get damaged, especially if you have wooden doors, it peels the paint, it gets into.... And he started going into all of these details. That is the problem. The problem is when you're explaining to me why you're doing what you're doing and why I should pay attention to it.

So, yeah. You can look at it negatively, but the reality is that you started up your business for a certain reason. That's the reason I want to know. That's kind of what you could put in the problem for starters. Yeah.

[00:12:25] Jonathan: Love It Yeah. That makes so much sense. So bag number one is the problem. And then bag number two is the solution. And I like how you say in your book that it's the mirror of the problem. So if the problem is I have a backache the mirror solution of that is I help you alleviate your backache. Um,

[00:12:45] Sean: And, and, and you'd be surprised at how many people don't pay attention to that. They go off into a different, they go, and then you can do yoga as well on then you can climb walls. No, no, no. Wait, I just had this problem, which is I'm getting stuck out of my own website.

And you're solving their problem. I want to wash my house in a non pressure situation, non pressure, whatever. And you’ve gone off to how they use really crazy tools that are built in Germany. It's like, no, wait, the reason why I got into this conversation was (A). Stick to (A). Just mirror it. Don't go to B and C and D because I'm not interested in that.

I want you to stick with (A). And that's what that sustenance, it's like driving down the freeway or motorway or whatever you call it and having like a stop sign every now and then to remind you, you're still on this road, there's like a cop car every now and then really that's kind of bringing their problem back to mind, otherwise what the client does is they read it or they read the information and then you've taken them off on a tangent and they go off on a tangent and you've lost them.

[00:13:57] Jonathan: Makes sense. So bag number one problem, Bag number two, solution. Bag number three, you talked about target profile like you were talking about, just a minute ago, so, you know it's for them. So, they know what the problem is. They know that you can solve it. They know it's made specifically for them. 

And now in my mind personally, I'm like, oh, well, they should just buy, like, I guess, for me, like the attraction stage, it just makes so much sense, like maybe they could buy, but that's not all seven bags because on comes bag number four, which is objections. So, maybe they want to buy but maybe they're afraid to. Maybe, you know, other stuff is going on in their head that's saying, eh, maybe not. 

So, what are some examples of some objections that you see from people that, maybe they want to take your course, maybe it's the perfect fit, maybe it solves their problem, but they still have objections. Like what are some examples of those?

[00:14:53] Sean: So we've been doing courses online since I dunno 2005. And cohort is a new frame word for it, new key word for it, or catch word for it, but that's kind of what we've been doing from the very start. That is, I am the conductor and they are the musicians. And that's what it is really that I'm hopeless. I'm just, they already know their part, but the objections that people have is for instance, we have forums.

We don't have slack, we don't have all of the, we don't have a ton of videos. We don't have all that stuff. So that's the objection. The objection is why do we have to work in a forum? Why do we have to work five days a week? Why can't we just do it once a week? Why do we have to work in a group? Why can't we just do the assignment and send it to you? 

So if we just look at these three, this is why we invented the courses. We invented the courses so that you don't have information, but you end up with a skill. So, if you take a cartooning course, for instance, then you become a cartoonist. If you take a headline course, there's a precise answer, the precise ending which is you are able to write eight different headlines in 10 minutes, everybody without fail.

People have objections because of the way you've presented yourself. And what we have to do is we have to make sure we get those objections, which is why we have the target profile.

So when we have a target audience, we can't ask an audience question, but when we have a profile, which is one person, then we can go to Jonathan and say, Jonathan, what are the objections that you have? And then systematically put those objections down on the page and then deconstruct or rather destroy those objections by very clearly stating why we're doing what we do. 

It's now that people don't want to deal with stuff, it's just that they want you to answer their objections. So, if you can answer those objections and you should, then they're good to go. they have gone one more hurdle down, which then takes them to the testimony.

[00:17:11] Jonathan: Indeed indeed. So, yeah, bag number four was objections. And then bag number five. is, as you said, testimonials. So, when they have objections and you squash those objections on the page… 

I guess this is really a leading question cuz I kind of know the answer, are the objections officially squashed or, what needs to happen to fully squash these objections?

What role do testimonials play?

[00:17:39] Sean: So, the first thing we have to understand is that the objections and testimonials are flip sides of the same coin.

Supposing I have an objection about forums. The testimonial needs to take on that objection about forums. If I have an objection about five days a week, the testimonial needs to talk about why five days a week was so important. If, and again, any objections that you have, getting the objections is crucial because that's the scaffolding.

That's like when you're painting a house, you put the scaffolding and then you can remove the scaffolding. You can actually remove the objections once you're done. You might choose to keep it. Some people choose to keep it on the sales page, but you might choose to remove it, and the objections [testimonials] do the job.

So the first thing we have to understand is that both are very crucial, because it tells you why people are slowing down at that point and then which direction you, because most people, when they try to get objections, sorry, testimonials, they go randomly. Why do you like this product? And that's not the reason I'm buying the product.

The reason I've gotten so far is because I'm already attracted towards it, but now I have these objections, and you're not clearing these objections for me by giving me more stuff about, oh, this product was so great. It is so wonderful and stuff. The first phase to understand in testimonials is that the part that comes right before the objections is very crucial.

So that part cannot be skipped, whether you choose to keep the objections or not, that's not relevant. You can, or not. The second part is that when you start off with the testimonials, you want to make sure that they start off as the reverse testimonial. And that is most testimonials are designed to make you look good, but that's not the way we approach stuff.

We tend to approach stuff… Once we grew up past a certain age, we tend to approach stuff with skepticism because we bought a hundred USB dongles that haven't worked. We have bought lights that don't function. We’re skeptical about stuff. When someone goes, you know, I really am an introvert. I hate to be part of groups.

Someone always dominates. It's very frustrating. That's what I want to read because I go, “That's me!” Now in a way, what you're also doing is selecting the right people. You know, when the person starts off with five days a week, I barely have time to have my breakfast every day. And here is someone that was asking me to put in two hours a day, five days a week for three months, I thought he was crazy, but, and that's where the story is.

Objections are the logical approach to why I should buy something. Testimonials is your, as most people call it, the narrative, the storyline. It's the drama. It's where everything comes alive because now you're telling me the story of why Anita thought I was crazy, you know why, going through this five days a week, three hours, two hours a day is crazy.

And now she's turned out to be such a good writer because of that. Three months ago, she couldn't get past the first paragraph. But it’s starting with the skepticism. And that's what you need to approach the testimonials from, which is, “what were you doing before, and when you first decided to sign up, what was going through your head.” And people say, you know, and then they start talking.

And the main thing that you're always doing is transcribing not translating. A lot of people, they translate. They say, “oh, this person works tot crazily. He has no soul.” And then people translates that into, “oh, he works like a robot.” That’s not what he said. They used emotional language, which is: they don't work with any method, they have no soul… that has more drama than what you're going to write as a copywriter on your sales page. 

And so when clients speak, they go through their memory and they have this frustration that they felt. 

So I can tell you, for instance, “having done many Spanish courses, I, the main problem I have with a Spanish course is I have to spend two hours online on a zoom call that just rushes from one concept to another. So, I'm not keen to do another Spanish course that does exactly the same thing. But now…” and this is where the testimonial begins. 

So there has to be that level of skepticism that locks me in, because that has been my objection. And usually there aren't many objections. There are like six different types of objections that come up repeatedly. They could be about price, structure, whatever, but there are kind of similar objections that people have.

And once you've got the testimonials that negate, that reduce the risk that I feel, now you're not only completely destroying that objection, but you're doing so with a story, which is somebody else's story. And in The Brain Audit, and even if you search online, there are six questions that we ask, and those six questions, if done correctly, can result in like an 800 word testimonial over the phone, over the phone.

So yeah, it's, it's a very precise way to use testimonials, but you have to be aware that testimonials don’t just have to be on a sales page. There is a variation to testimonials. So, they can be large testimonials. So, if you go to the site and look at some of the pages, you'll see that, first of all, we’re alternating the testimonials. There are small testimonials. You know, like a text message and there, so several small testimonials, one big testimonial, some more small testimonials, big testimonials. So there's also the packaging of testimonials that is pretty crucial. There are testimonials that go via email, which are different.

There are testimonials that are put in a PDF, and it's called a prospectus. And in the prospectus we put a thousand word testimonials. And then another thousand word testimonial, and another thousand word testimonial. But before we get to the testimonial, we say, why we're doing this course. How are we going about it? And you know, you should get one of the prospectuses from Psychotactics because what it does is it, we don't have to do any selling. 

By the time you've read… you don't read, you skimmed… through the third thousand word testimonial, and the book is 80 pages, you're like I want this course more than anything else in the world. So, we're able to sell our courses in 20 minutes. These are three and a half thousand dollar courses, 20 minutes, it's gone. Now, there are other reasons why we do this, but one of the most, I mean, this is the story that people want to hear.

The story is I have these objections and you're not answering my objections. You're just selling me benefits and features. I don't want the benefits of features. I want to know that I'm going to be treated like a human being (A), and (B) I'm going to end up with a result. The only reason why anybody does a course, only reason, is because they don't want your course in the first place. So, if you say to somebody, I could teach you cartooning, or I could teach you copywriting, but instead I also have this magic wand. And if I tap this magic wand on your head, you will be a cartoonist. They go give me the magic wand. So, they don't want your course.

That's very crucial to understand. They don't... It's like a mother wants the baby. She doesn't want the labor pains. And we're always selling them the labor pains. We’re like, “oh, you have to do this and you do this.” And you know, they want the result. And so they're trying to figure out which is the least painful way to get to this result.

And when they hear how the groups help each other, when they hear how everything works, now they're going like, “oh, thank goodness, not another stupid course that I have to do. This one has been thought out.” And that's kind of the story that the testimonials bring. 

Now, of course you have to pay very close attention to course construction, which is not what a lot of people do. They just put a course together because they think people want information, but people want results. And usually they want just one result. Like I want to write eight headlines in 10 minutes and know that every single headline is super curious and not spammy. That's clear because you can go, “Okay, 25 people did this course. Let's go. 10 minutes. Write a headline on this.” And then everybody achieves the same thing. 

A lot of courses tend to sell the concept of “You will finish this course. See our ending rate is 90%.” That's like school. Everybody finishes school. It doesn't make any difference to me. People buy something, and they can’t always explain this to you, but they, if you want to sell courses super fast and consistently you have to remember that within the testimonial I have to have results. I have to have the precise result that people are looking for. 

Because you've seen this before. You go to like a food website. And then there's this lovely picture of the food and everybody goes, “Oh, that looks so yummy. I should make it. Oh, that looks so yummy. My husband will like it.” Wait, did any of you make the food? So, the testimonials, I mean, do this. Go to a website. You go to Amazon and you see the opposite of what you see on a lot of websites.

And Amazon is like, I bought this, I hated it. I figured, you know, there's all this fudging and fussing around about why this dongle doesn't work for that thing. And they're very precise. And so you get the stories, but if you go to a website, it's like, “oh, I bought this and it was so great.” So great for what?

And so there is no clarity in the testimonials because the objections were not in place. The storyline was not in place. The questions were not asked. You're just getting feel good nonsense that, that you can quite easily delete off your page. I mean, it, it works, it doesn't fail. It's better to have it, but again, it doesn't need so much more work to make it better.

And that's the problem that for the sake of half an hour, You now have to market for three more weeks. So if you spent that extra time doing the right stuff, you would have less, I mean, to me, the best definition of a marketer is a person who doesn't do any marketing, that's the definition. Because that's, what do you call a brilliant marketer where they announced something and people… so, I forgot the name now. So I don't know, Beyonce, for instance, right. 

She announces a concert, sold out in 20 minutes or 20 seconds or whatever… that's marketing. So, there's loads of buildup. There's lots of stuff. You know the testimonials because it's a different kind of testimonial. And then eventually when she decides, okay, we're going to have the concert on this date, 20 seconds, done. Taylor Swift, done. That's marketing. 

They're not spending the next six months going, “Ah, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, you should buy this. Here's the clock. Here's the time," you know, all of that fuss and fidgeting that people do well, it's just, it's very tiring.

[00:29:59] Jonathan: It is. And, oh my goodness. There's so many, I hope all my listeners listen back to everything you were just saying like three times because, and take notes please, because, there's just so many things there to learn from what you just said, Sean. 

This is why I was so excited to interview you because I had the experience working with Louis Grenier at Everyone Hates Marketers.

We took your reverse testimonials, he actually had me listen to an episode you did with him to learn about reverse testimonials. And we put together this, you called it the prospectus, this long PDF of testimonials. It was 20 interviews, interviewing these customers, asking them these six questions which I want to go over with you during this interview, asking them these six questions and yeah, turning them into, I don't know how many words they were but like you said, a thousand word testimonials, and they were very real, they're very authentic.

They sound like the person's actually speaking. It doesn't sound fake at all. And it does, it it addresses their objections, so it connects their fears, and, you know, anything they might be afraid about, whether it's the program is going to take too much time, or it's going to cost too much money, whatever it is, and it, it squashes that with a story, which is very powerful. 

So yeah, this is my hope for all cohort-based course creators out there is that you'll start doing reverse testimonials just like Sean was saying, because they are so, so so powerful, and there's so much opportunity to let your customers, really testify for you, um, in the true word of the word testimonials.

So, Sean, I want to get into these six questions a bit, these six questions that our creators can ask their customers to elicit the information they need to construct these reverse testimonials. So, as a creator out there, these are the questions that you want to ask your customers after they take your cohort-based course to construct a testimonial, a reverse testimonial. 

So question one, you say Sean is, “What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this course.” So why do you ask… why is that question number one?

[00:32:08] Sean: Now, you have to bear in mind that everybody won't respond to this in the same way. So you've got to phrase it based on what you're trying to achieve, and what you are trying to achieve is what was the mindset that you have, well, what was the kind of objection that you had before you decided to sign up for this course? 

And the reason for that is because people had a “before” state, you know? This is not probably, the… it's very rare now that you will get a complete newbie. It's more likely, and it also depends on who you're pitching to, but you're very likely to have someone who's done a writing course before or, or whatever.

And so they have this, because objections are based on past experience or perception. That's what objections are based on. So, if I say to you, have you had, you know, an Indian dish before? Now you've got two sides to go to, which is, my perception is that's very hot. It's very spicy. Or my past experience was that it was too hot or too spicy.

So I've, I'm not starting from zero, even if I've not gone through it, I'm starting from what I think it is or what I experienced. And you want to get that kind of backstory on it. You want the backstory of when you entered this space. What was the kind of nervousness or, you know, frustration or whatever.

What was that thought process when you entered this space? So, if you were looking at, when you were going to buy a fridge, what was the kind of trepidation you had considering you already brought fridges before? When you're going to buy a writing course, what has been your experience on other writing courses before?

So you might have to just change that slightly so that it's more listener friendly, but essentially they had an obstacle. They had a perception, or they had a perception or past experience, and now they want to rectify it. So they enter with that space, and you're getting the backstory of why they decided to do whatever they’re doing.

And so you have to get that backstory because that creates the skepticism, which is, you know, I was really struggling and I tried many courses and they all promised the same thing and they never delivered. So that's the backstory.

[00:34:33] Jonathan: Perfect. So we get the backstory from them. And then question number two is, “What did you find as a result of buying this course?” So why do you ask that question next?

[00:34:45] Sean: So now you've got effectively, this is almost like the problem and solution, but in the testimonials. So this was the problem then what was the fairytale? So this is the Cinderella thing. I didn't want to go to the ball because, you know, I don't have shoes. I don't have a carriage. I don't have anything. Who's going to pay attention to me? 

What happened after that? Here's what… I got to dance with the prince. I got, you know… so it's a before and after situation. And when people read the skepticism, which is, I didn't want to do this course because of XYZ, and then you have to give them what happened as a result. So it's, I didn't want to do this article writing course because, you know, I don't have time five days a week, two hours a day for three months. But what I found was that the reason why I was struggling so much was because I was putting these artificial barriers.

And once I got over these artificial barriers, what I found was that I am writing articles every week with no problem when it used to take me, you know, weeks or months to finish an article before. So you've got this kind of before and after scenario setting up very quickly in the testimonial.

[00:35:57] Jonathan: Love it. And then question three is, “What specific feature did you like the most about this course?” How about that one?

[00:36:07] Sean: Yeah, and that kind of gets them... So, when we buy something, we, there are lots of features and benefits, lots of features… let's stick the features. You look at a keyboard. It is light. It is, I don't know, malleable. It's got bunch of features. If someone lists off a bunch of features, again, the reader, that's the client who's going to buy something, the prospect, is not able to focus, but, and neither is the person giving the testimonial. So, when you say, what is the one feature and they go, what I really liked was how the groups were so comfortable with each other and then they go into details about how… so they're in a way creating a sub-story within that same story, but then focusing on that one thing, and because they're focusing on one thing, they don't have to think of the other features of the course, and they give you a lot of detail. 

And then when you ask the next question, which is the fourth question, which is what three other things did you like about it?

What we're getting there is just… Often you get one line answers for that. I like this. I like this. I like that. And this is why we ask it as one feature. And not which four features did you like in the course? Because if you ask which four features, they will give you one line answers for all of them. But if you ask them which one feature did you like, and why? They give you one paragraph, two paragraphs, which is a lot, and then they're now off the hook because they've given you what you wanted. And now they're able to either go into one line or one paragraph each, but usually they stick to one line. Yeah, so that's kind of why we have that, you know, what was the, before? What was the after? What is the one thing? What are the three things?

[00:37:55] Jonathan: it. Okay. And then question number five is, “Would you recommend this course? If so, why?” How about that one?

[00:38:05] Sean: And this is almost like a stupid question, because they are already recommending the course. But now they're forced to go past those four points to some other point. So it's bringing more, it's fleshing out how much they liked it, how much they got a benefit from it in a more dramatic way.

So you've just asked them for the one thing they loved, that should have sort of stopped with that. Then there's three more things. And then why are you recommending this course forces them to take another angle that they hadn't considered. So they're giving you more depth in a way that you would not expect if you just ask, why did you like this course? And then they would just give you one, one line answer or one paragraph answer. So now we've got the same question kind of repeating itself in different ways, but each of them gets a different response and they have to explain why it is so important to them.

[00:39:00] Jonathan: Love it. And then the final question number six is you say, is, “Is there anything you'd like to add?” So why do you ask that one at the end?

[00:39:09] Sean: They're finished with everything, and you would think that's it. And in many cases they've just started to warm up. Sometimes we have to restart the whole testimonial at this stage. That's because they've given you everything that they needed, and now they go, but you know, we started just like you did.

You said, you know, we started using these testimonials in our prospectus. So you didn't start off your podcasts with that today. You warmed up somewhere along the line and you go, “oh, I was working with Louis,” and then you suddenly remember, “oh, we use this prospectus.” 
And so they go down this pathway, which is they're off the hook, they're not thinking about it. And they're thinking, how do we apply it? And then we can go, “oh, should we kind of just put that as it is,” which we could or should we go… 

because, you know, there was one guy like in Singapore. I asked him all the questions. He stood for the camera like it was a photo being taken because that's how he was doing it. Then when I got to the question, and he goes, “In the past 20 years, this company has never sold out any of our courses, and when we started using the system that you,” (which was, he was talking about the pre-sale course that we have) “When we started using the pre-sale course system, we started selling out six weeks in advance, and now we are booked all the way for,” (and this was in 2022, sorry, 2000.) And he was like, “We're booked out all the way to 2001.” 

He didn't say that at all during the entire interview, but once he was off the hook, he was able to give me the detail of how they implemented something. And I think the most crucial part of this question is not the question itself, but the uncomfortable silence that comes after the question.

So you ask the question and then you go dead silent, and you don't say anything, and there's enormous amount of, you know, discomfort there, because they've just given you everything they had. And now you're asking them, do you want to add something? And now they have to reach for something. And usually they reach for an application, which is, this is how we applied it. So, they've given you other benefits, the features, their objections, all of that stuff they've given out to you. But when you go through this moment of silence, not moment, but it could be like a minute of silence. And a minute is very long. I mean, 10 seconds of silence is very long, but the first, it's like sales, the first person to speak loses.

And so you just don't speak, you let them speak. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough for you to go, I should just shut up, ask the question and shut up. It works less effectively in email. It works really well when you're doing a video or a live or audio kind of thing, because you can insert that silence, that uncomfortable silence.

[00:42:19] Jonathan: Love it. And that actually ties into this next thing. And we're almost out of time here, but I want to make sure our listeners have the high level view of how to construct these testimonials. So, tell me if you do it differently, Sean, but the way me and Louis did it was so people finished his cohorts, and then he interviewed them over video, and then he put the videos into Descript, which is a software that transcribes those videos. So now we had the written transcription, and then I went through these written transcriptions and edited them into these long form testimonials that started with the objection, and then followed the story all the way through to the result that they got that squashed the objection and, you know, kind of justified why they took the course in the first place. Is that kind of the high level kind of picture of it?

[00:43:11] Sean: That's pretty much it.

[00:43:11] Jonathan: Okay. Beautiful.

[00:43:14] Sean: Yeah. And, you just have to tidy up the, I mean, as good as AI is, and as good as Descript is, you have to tidy up the text sometimes. It's just, that's what it does really well as well. You can go in and clean it up quite nicely. 

So it's a lot of work. It, you know, the way people look at stuff is like, this is a lot of work. It is a lot of work on one end of the spectrum. But what people fail to realize is that when you're doing any marketing, of course, how long does it take for you by the time you announced it to the point you sold out. And you look at it time and time again, and it takes weeks for people to sell out, which means they have to keep irritating their customers with more and more emails, keep trying to do some promotions, keep trying to threaten them, keep trying to send out all these timers and clocks. And, and your goal should be the opposite. Your goal should be, how can I sell this out in like 24 hours? And what can I do in advance in my own sweet time to set it up so that in those 24 hours, it's all done.

And you know, it creates an enormous amount of scarcity because if I announced that we're going to have a storytelling course in April of 2022, I don't have to write a sales page anymore because the people that come to these courses are the people who came to the courses. So in a way, what you're doing is you're creating recurring clients in a way that you can't imagine. Because every time people are looking for new clients, which is why they have to advertise and do joint ventures and do all that stuff. But once you've done the work for an article writing course, for instance, and people have experienced that and they've got the result, then they're going to sign up for the landing page course and then for the storytelling course and for everything else that you have from there on.

That's kind of the bigger picture that people miss out on, which is this is going to take so much time, but in reality, yeah, I mean, it does take time, but it also makes you feel really happy. I mean, when you go through those testimonials, you suddenly realize how, you're like, “oh, this is my purpose.”

You know, you feel so happy reading the stuff. You feel motivated to continue to teach the course, whereas before you just get, “oh, this was so great. I loved it.” I mean, look at most of the testimonials online, they’re just hopeless.

[00:45:44] Jonathan: Absolutely. And to start to wrap up here, I have a four more questions, relatively quicker questions for you. So first one is what's the biggest challenge that you have faced as a cohort-based course creator so far, or a live course creator? And how did you solve that challenge?

[00:46:02] Sean: Oh, I haven't solved that challenge. The challenge that we have is that, at the end of the course, what we do is we ask people to write like a thousand word feedback. Now, feedback and testimonials are different. Feedback is when two microphones come in contact with each other or close to each other, and they blair. That's feedback where they tell you what's everything is wrong and that's kind of…

So every time we finish a course, it's like writing software. You just finished writing the software for that program. And now version 3.1 has to come out and then 3.2. That's what we do all the time. We just keep improving the courses. And when you go through even 15 people in the course, and they've written a thousand words each, that's a lot of things you have to fix for the next time.

They're not complaining. They loved it. They're the ones that come back, but they're saying you could fix this. And often they ask you to fix things that are technical things, that are impossible, and that's a whole different kind of webinar, but that, they ask you, like they fall into two, three categories, some part of the course, some part of the technical thing and some part of the impossible.

So you have to deal with all those three in your own way.

[00:47:17] Jonathan: Gotcha. Thank you. And what are the top three resources you would recommend for listeners to learn more?

[00:47:25] Sean: I think you should read more books on psychology. I mean, I'm being very generic here, but the thing is. When you understand that people don't want to do your course, then you have to make it really fun. They don't want to do your course. They don't want your information. They just want to get to the result.

So it's like you, you've got three kids in the car and you're going on a road trip and they don't want to be part of the road trip. They only want to be part of the road trip for the first five minutes. And after that, it's just misery for them the whole way. And so what can you do psychologically that makes it fun for them?

And as a parent, you go, “oh, we can get them iPads. We can do, you have more stops.” So you have the design. How is it going to be more interesting for them? And again, the way we do it is differently. We have groups, and the groups interact with, I'm just the conductor. I'm just the guy who stands and waves stuff.

I don't do anything. I just make sure they don't go off too loud, too soft, too, whatever. I'm just there. They already know that what they are doing. I'm just giving them the instruction. And that's what you have to do. They have to enjoy themselves. I think you should read books on, you know, psychology, which is how to make people learn better, not the boring learn, but how to make, any books that you could find, or any articles there'll be some on the Psychotactics site, which is how do you make learning fun?

[00:48:56] Jonathan: Love it. Yeah, And I highly encourage our listeners to, to go to and check out all your resources, especially The Brain Audit. and again, really good book. 

And final question for you, Sean, where can listeners keep in touch with you?

[00:49:09] Sean: Well, if they want to listen to stuff, there is the podcast, which is The Three Month vacation. If they want to read stuff, you go to Psychotactics, and that's pretty much it. Psychotactics is kind of the place that you want to be. It’s

[00:49:23] Jonathan: Awesome. Well, Thank you very very, very much, Sean. I learned a lot and appreciate your time.

[00:49:29] Sean: You're welcome.

[00:49:35] Jonathan: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, hop aboard If you'd like to be my matey, I would love for you to message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. And remember, always captain your cohort, always be my matey, and never lick an iceberg while your ship is passing by.

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