If you are looking to improve sales performance and close more deals, you should strongly consider integrating customer stories into your sales process.
Genuine and compelling customer stories have an impressive potential to drive new sales leads, inbound calls and dramatically increase sales. In fact, 90% of buyers who are exposed to a story of past customer success content have admitted it influenced their decision to buy.
Today, storytelling is a crucial part of the sales process, perhaps more than ever.
People want irresistible stories, things that build trust and give proof of the value that a company can deliver to them.
Don’t believe us? Fine, let the numbers talk.
In 2019, 77% of buyers who were exposed to case studies during their evaluation stage of the buying cycle claimed these customer stories to be the most influential type of content. In fact, leads preparing to make a purchase will look for case studies or customer stories, using Google terms like “Company X + case study” in search of proof a product or service is effective.
People want something engaging, something that demonstrates the power of what you have to offer. When hearing a captivating story, people are more likely to respond with an emotional response, and the simpler it is to understand, the faster it will be processed and acted upon.
So, how can you start leveraging the power of customer stories?
Optimizing Customer Stories
In order to optimize your customer stories, and use them as a tool to help close more deals, you need to know what to capture in those stories, what type of content works best, and how to repurpose those stories into multiple campaigns. To get things just right, there are a few major steps you should focus on when crafting an effective customer success story.
1. What Should You Capture?
First, in terms of what to capture, your goal should be a unique customer story, effectively a case story, that furthers engagement with your prospects and reinforces the impact of whatever that case story may be. The content should be something that shows the success of your product or service for a previous customer, specifically how it helped bring about changes or improvements.
Don’t limit yourself to just one either. Your company can have multiple customer stories or case studies lying around so that sales reps can pick those that are best suited to the lead they are nurturing. More importantly, your lead might want additional proof in the form of more than one success story.
2. What Type of Content Works Best?
Personalized content works best. But more importantly, video content has been shown to increase conversion rates by over 300% in some cases. These videos can be simple, such as featuring a sales reps discussing key points of a written case study used in a previous contact, explaining how the information is relevant to the customer. Or, perhaps an interview with a client that has been condensed to a few main points that you can use to convince current leads.
It is estimated that by 2020, 85% of interactions between brands and leads will take place without speaking to a person. This means a few major things for brands; customers will start doing more research on their own and only reach out once they are ready to make their decision, and they will be impacted largely by the content they find about your brand. Put simply, if it isn’t impactful, you may have a hard time closing leads.
Custom videos are a wonderful way to promote offers or introduce reps to new prospects. These customer stories are delivered best by short, impactful videos especially when sent via email. Inboxes get full of sales-related emails no matter the potential lead, but having a quick and informative video stands out among the crowd and is more likely to get noticed.
Another great way to build effective customer stories is to give them out to your leads through email marketing campaigns in small doses in the form of a story. First, introduce the story as a campaign that will be delivered to them over the course of a few emails. Bring life to their problems by creating a buyer persona with their given pain points and problems in the workplace. Then, show your product or service as a solution and explain how it helped to alleviate their pain points, add value, and bring them real results.
3. What Are Some Templates You Can Use?
Another amazing benefit of using customer stories is the way that your sales team will benefit from using them at scale. You can easily format customer stories into templates, changing just a few key points for each buyer persona. This will allow your team to focus more on nurturing leads and closing them using the most influential stories for their given pain points.
This personalization will allow your team to get higher open rates, response rates, field more calls, and overall close more sales as a result of understanding your customer, making them feel valued, and displaying to them why you have the exact solution for their needs.
Templates for each of your customer stories will allow your reps the chance to deliver easily personalized content that works to build faith and trust at the most important stages of the buying journey.
4. How Can I Re-purpose Old Content Into Customer Stories?
Your reps can effectively re-purpose one interview with a client into multiple campaigns. Think of it as the same as a book with multiple chapters. Your clients should be nurtured with various forms of follow up (be it a phone call or an email sequence) that allows your reps to expound upon the effective narrative you have picked and nurture the clients concurrently.
A good sequence of follow-ups can deliver the engaging stories you have picked at scale. And again, the use of templates here can expedite this part of the process too.
Re-purposing old content for these type of customer stories can be as simple as conducting interviews with past clients over the phone, recording it, and running through a script of questions that will allow them to expand upon the value that your company brings to the table. By making each second with past clients count, and recording much more than you may ever need, you leave the door wide open to recreate more of their story further down the line.
On top of that, you can easily divide up the questions you ask them into different sections that represent the various stages of the buyer’s journey - using their answers to help fight off common objections that leads may have at each stage of the funnel.
Crafting An Excellent Customer Story & Improving Your Sales Funnel
There are dozens of great examples of effective and thoughtful customer stories out there that have been wildly successful. A few brands that come to mind to model yours after are:
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
To name a few. Obviously, you want to keep your customer story specific to your brand and offering, but there are quite a few things that you can learn by studying some of the best in the business who have created dozens of successful customer stories to build the backbone of their sales process.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the value you bring to clients. If you can easily show an understanding of their needs, wants, problems, and fight off their objections at each stage of the funnel, you will win their business. A customer story is an excellent way to effectively communicate value without pushing a hard sell. It gives your sales force an extra tool to help convince people to buy and has been shown to be extremely effective in recent years, especially in B2B.