Why are customer success stories so important?

They’re important because it’s human nature for to people care about what their peers are doing. We look to our peers to see what they did or what they were capable of achieving. An effective success story does that somewhat for prospects. It says, “Hey. Someone you can relate to has success, and probably in a situation you can relate to.” Not only does that build credibility for me as a seller in my organization, but it also gives a prospect hope.

What makes an effective customer success story?

First, it has to be targeted to the person you’re speaking with. It should be concise, not a long, implementation story about all your services and offerings. The story should be less about exactly we did it but, more so about the problem we addressed, the problem they were able to address, why they were having a problem, and what they told us that they needed. Then, briefly, if applicable, what we brought to the table to help solve that problem.

The punchline is the results. The results should be tangible and quantifiable. And, they should tie back to the business issue that was driving the whole need for change in the first place.

Why do organizations have a hard time creating customer success stories?

A couple things come to mind as to why reference stories and success stories are sometimes hard to put in place. It starts with failing to establish a baseline of where they are today, before they implemented your offerings. You don’t even have a baseline to which to say, “Was there success or was there not?”

Candidly, a lot of times as sales professionals, we close the deal and say we’re going to follow up. But, we don’t do a good job of following up and working with the customer to actually go back and get those metrics. I think that’s a problem.

Then, you sometimes run into customers who might be sensitive about sharing their success metrics or what’s going on after implementation. They might be concerned that you’re going to share this with the marketplace or with competitors. I think that happens and it just speaks volumes about how we need to position that we’ll keep that type of information proprietary, unless given permission not to. I think those are some of the real reasons why success stories aren’t built and aren’t’ effective.

How can organizations create better success stories?

You need to define what the process is for creating a success story. What do you need to do? Who’s going to do it? When does it happen it in the sales cycle? There is a process that needs to be put in place. Somebody has to own it. It’s their job to go track results and stay with the client on a quarterly basis or semi-annual basis. They’re working with them to track the success metrics.

Who is responsible for creating the success story?

That’s a good question. I think it depends on who you ask, because you get a lot of finger pointing to different people. I think what would be ideal is having a customer success group that works closely with the sellers. They’ll probably on the back end of the sale and they’re still touching the customer on a daily basis. I think they can go in there with some credibility and track what’s going on. It should also be their responsibility also though to make sure those metrics are given to marketing. Or, maybe it’s part of their role to start writing those success stories.

What are the results of measuring success metrics?

For most sales professionals I know, prospecting is not their favorite thing to go do. Having success metrics does two things for you. One, it gives you the ammunition to build value propositions and other things to stimulate interest. The other thing is, if you’re tracking success metrics you’re staying engaged. And, I think you can find new deals while you’re engaged. I’d rather find new deals in an existing customer than have to prospect and find new ones.




James Touchstone
Author:
James Touchstone, Director, Learning and Development

James N. Touchstone is SPI’s Director of Learning and Development, responsible for the creation and enhancement of advanced sales methodology and skill enhancement programs. He is also co-author of The Solution Selling Fieldbook.

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