You’re not alone. We all know how powerful credible success stories can be in maintaining interest and credibility in a lengthy B2B sales process. Yet we also know all too well that they are not easy to come by.
To help our clients overcome the resistance they regularly encounter with formal success stories, we asked tech marketers how they are documenting and sharing customer successes. What we learned is that the process doesn’t have to be difficult or complex to be effective. While ROI rich success stories are always desired, there are many equally enlightening and informative ways to elevate the voice of the customer; we’ve listed eight of them below. Which of the following have you tried? What other ideas would you add to this list?
- Look beyond the success story to capture the “Voice of the Customer” on trends or industry perspectives shared in one-on-one interviews or in other presentations. The focus doesn’t have to be on your company or on a success story for this to be valuable. Industry trends and how-to articles are also helpful. The Chicago Auto Show provides a great example of the trend story format in their Chicago Auto Show Webisodes.
- Consider a broader industry “success story” campaign or momentum release, citing a number of clients in a single release. While it’s nice if you can detail individual implementations, this approach allows you to forego naming specific clients and to present a broader industry perspective that will reflect positively on your organization.
- Participate in sales meetings and listen for stories of satisfied customers. Then, follow up with the sales lead after the meeting to elicit their support in a win-win-win success story that makes them, their client, and the company look great.
- Be upfront about your corporation’s interest in success stories by formalizing a client reference program. Mention the program in initial sales discussions and then in formal agreements. While you can offer incentives for use of their name in public, this approach doesn’t guarantee you will get a great story down the road.
- Ask your sales team about customers they know who value public exposure. Making a client a champion because of their passionate or smart use of your solutions is a great way to garner a lifelong fan. It can also give the customer greater visibility and a career boost.
- Give an award or nominate exemplary customers for an industry award, so the story becomes more about touting them vs. you. GlobalSpec invented the “Great Moments in Engineering Award,” and gained national recognition and a halo of goodwill for its affiliation with the Apollo 13 Mission Engineers.
- Record your experts and customers when they speak at trade shows or to analysts, and then transcribe their success into a story. By demystifying the process and giving the client a written document, you make it easier for your client to sell their teams on broader exposure by arming them with a story that showcases them in a positive light.
- Be your own success story. Many clients do this when they are just getting started. If you are using the technology or service you are selling, interview your CTO, sales chief, or operations leader to show how you are generating ROI by implementing your own solutions.
In the end, elevating the voice of your customer shouldn’t be an afterthought but an everyday occurrence. How are you engaging your customers in meaningful conversations? And, how are you helping them document your shared success for mutual benefit?
In our query of our tech marketing peers, we received a few examples of client reference programs and success story intake forms, and would be happy to share to help you get started. Drop an email to me if you would like generic copies: firstname.lastname@example.org.