Customer success stories or testimonials can be one of your strongest selling tools. The right success story delivered at the right time can be more persuasive to a prospect than anything you, the salesperson, has to say. A customer who has experienced a similar situation, challenge, or goal has much more credibility with a prospect, especially initially. But too many customer success stories fall on deaf ears (or no ears!) simply because little thought or planning was put in to how and when to deliver them most effectively.
Here are 5 ways to make a Bigger Impact with Customer Success Stories:
Lead with your story
The first minute of your presentation is prime real estate. Prospects are most attentive in the beginning and they’re forming opinions. Yet most presenters squander this valuable real estate by talking about themselves or their company. Success stories and testimonials get buried either somewhere in the middle of the presentation (when attention is at its lowest) or at the end – often running out of time and never getting to it!
The smart move is to lead with your customer success story. A good story speaks directly to what your prospect can expect from working with you. It is therefore of much greater interest than how long you’ve been in business or how many customers you have. Starting with a success story will predispose your audience to listen more favorably from the outset and pay even greater attention during the remainder of your presentation.
Don’t dismiss customer success stories or testimonials just because they don’t perfectly match up with the details of your current prospect’s business or situation. While it’s ideal if you can find a story about a similar customer in terms of industry, market, length of time in business, size, etc., don’t get hung up on it. The most critical thing your prospect should share with the customer in your story is the type of challenge or problem they’re looking to solve. This could be a need to grow business, reduce risk, or innovate, for example. And of course, the results your customer gets should be something your prospect has indicated they are interested in achieving as well. (Good discovery is important here.) In telling your story, be sure to highlight those similarities.
Keep it succinct
You want to share just enough detail in your story to provide context, but not so many plot twists that you put Night Shyamalan to shame. A good length of time for your story is two minutes or less. This should give you ample time to get major points across, i.e., the situation, challenge, solution and result. Most stories are generated from marketing so they may be much longer than you need. Edit out unnecessary detail and provide just enough set-up to avoid confusion. If it’s a necessarily long story, consider splitting it up. Try revealing the results at the end of your presentation (see #5).
Make it conversational
It’s hard to sound conversational if you’re simply reading the story from a slide or marketing brochure. Or, if you’re unfamiliar with the details. Memorize the key points of the story, then put it into your own words. The tone you want to strike is that of telling a friend about another friend’s problem and ultimate success in order to inspire or motivate them.
Do a call back
Your closing should reinforce your main ideas and motivate your prospect to take the next step. A customer success story is one of the strongest tools you have available for this task. If you’ve referred to the story earlier in your presentation, call back to it in your closing to reinforce it and keep it top of mind. This doesn’t mean repeating the story verbatim. But rather summarizing the results and a few key points you want them to remember. This helps to seal your message in your prospect’s mind. (To find out what else you can do to make your closing a success click here.)
The right customer success story can build credibility, demonstrate results and help your prospect take the leap toward purchasing your solution. But don’t rely on the story to do all the work. Follow these 5 suggestions and maximize the impact of your customer success stories in your presentation.