Let’s face it, filling the pipeline with new leads is a constant struggle. And when you manage to get prospects into the funnel, converting these to sales is an altogether different challenge.
So, what’s one of the best ways to get prospects over the line when you’re struggling to get a commitment from them to buy?
Customer success stories – ignore them at your peril!
One of the most underused and undervalued sales tactics is leveraging success stories from your existing customers. After all, what provides a more powerful message to your prospects than showing them how other companies have overcome their challenges by using the solutions you’re selling?
An effective way to internalize value and map solutions to your prospects is to thoroughly understand why your existing customers chose you (over your competitors) and the benefits they’ve gained by working with you. If your company serves its customers well – there should be plenty of anecdotal information that can help shape your sales succcess message.
We spend a lot of time trying to memorize sales and marketing spiels when the most powerful words are the ones spoken by our own customers. Many “experts” harp on about the benefits of using case studies and testimonials in selling, but few explain how to extract most value from this approach.
Tips for compiling strong customer success stories
Here are some suggestions for capturing anecdotes to use in your success stories:
- Seek out examples of how your solutions have helped other customers. Set up a forum so customer-facing reps within your organization can share their stories.
- The best stories can be followed up to extract most value by creating detailed case studies or video testimonials for your website.
- Make sure to segment your success stories by organization type. This will allow you to share relevant examples with your new prospects which will strengthen their impact.
- Set up a survey asking for customer feedback. Use open-ended questions such as:
- What issues motivated you to find a solution in the first place?
- What are the 3 main benefits you’ve experienced having introduced our solutions?
- How did the solution benefit in raw financial terms?
The most successful, elite sales people across any organization are passionate about what they sell. This is not something that can be taught, or something that is easily faked. The belief that your products and services will undoubtedly help your customers is one of the most powerful sales tools that you have at your disposal.
Over time, work or personal issues can dilute our belief that what we do is for the greater good of the customer. But there is no better way to renew your energy and passion for the job than speaking with happy customers.
A sales person with passion truly wants to understand their customer’s needs and how an offering fits into that picture. When a sales person is fully invested in “The Best Customer Success Stories Ever”, that passion is bound to translate into success.
Turn referrals into new customers.
The best time to ask for a referral is just after a customer tells you exactly why they are so satisfied with your solution. Asking for those important introductions is a crucial piece of the sales life cycle, yet only 30% of sales people ask for referrals on a regular basis. When a prospect is introduced to your organization through someone that he trusts, you are more likely to close a larger sale as a result. In fact, studies show that sales people who actively seek and exploit referrals have close ratios as high as 60% to 80% on these accounts and earn four to five times more than sales people who don’t.
Referral business also reduces your sales expense and your sales cycle.
Put a plan in place to get referrals.
Provide a clear picture of the type of referral you’re looking for and do your homework on the front end of these meetings to identify contacts you would like to meet. This exercise also helps you get informal testimonials that you can use in your sales cycle. Make it easy for your customers to say yes by offering to do the work for them. Write the introductions that they can send on your behalf and offer to write a draft testimonial for them to review and send back with any changes they wish to make.
Create Repeat Customers.
Existing customers are five times more likely to buy from you than brand new prospects. So when you meet with your customers and ask them to share success stories, they may begin to resell themselves on your solutions and encourage them to look at other services or products you’re offering. Success, happiness and passion are contagious. Catch it! 🙂
Quick Exercise To get You Started: Produce and share short audio segments titled “The Best Customer Success Story Ever”.
The task is to find a customer, interview them and produce a great customer success story. Some customers will naturally be more forthcoming with relevant information and some will need more prodding.
The segment should only be a few minutes long (or, as long as it takes to tell a good story) but you will need to think about relevant questions to ask ahead of time.
The success story should focus on the results that the customer has experienced, not the sales process. The aim should be to show that the customer experienced similar challenges to the ones your prospect is facing, but overcame them by choosing your solution.
Here are some tips for interview questions that will allow you to build great success stories:
- Q: “Tell me as much as you can about how we helped you.”
- Q: “What were the challenges or pain points that prompted you to look for a solution such as ours?”
- Q: “Why did you end up choosing our solution over the others you researched?”
- Q: “Can you give us some examples of how your life is easier now that our solution is in place?”
- Q: “What would you say to other companies facing the same challenges as you and why they should they consider us?”
You can record the audio by using a Webex meeting or an audio recording via phone or tablet. These can then be archived and shared across your organization.
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at our own Customer Success Stories.
I hope you enjoyed the article and remember to have fun with the exercise!