Let’s face it. Selling isn’t easy, especially in today’s digitally connected world where buyers are in control and have the information they need at a click of a button.
The decision making process a buyer goes through consists of 3 steps:
- Awareness, which means the buyer has realized they have a problem that needs to be addressed.
- Consideration, this is when the buyer understands their problem and is now looking at various solutions to address that challenge.
- Decision, the buyer has determined the best option and is now ready to invest in a solution.
So, as a seller, how can you leverage your understanding of the buying process and your ideal buyer persona to accelerate your sales success?
Testimonials, case studies, success stories, client examples, quotes, etc., you need this type of collateral to support your sales and marketing efforts.
Forrester data showed that only 34% of salespeople consistently use success stories and examples. So, what’s that mean for you? Incorporating success stories is a surefire way to give yourself a competitive edge.
Here are 4 reasons to start using customer success stories and examples to positively influence your sales results:
1. Identify a Common Business Challenge
First, your buyer needs to identify the issue or challenge they are experiencing. This relates to the first step of the buying process: awareness. Once the buyer comes to terms with their problem, they are ready to start researching how to fix it.
Educational content like white papers, analyst reports, and industry reports are going to be critical at this stage. Do you work with a variety of industries who have slightly different pain points? Make sure you have a story or example to share for each industry and persona you target.
This is where your website and blog can step into play. Creating valuable content to convey your understanding of their business challenge will help create awareness of your product, service, or company, so that your buyers begin to understand what you do, and how you can help them. Content should be focused on your buyer’s pain points — not your product or brand.
Try showcasing customer quotes or simple metrics on your website. For example, a stakeholder at “Customer X” stated their “sales cycle was shortened by X number of days” or “sales forecasting accuracy improved by 5%.”
2. Illustrate How Your Solution will Deliver Results
Now that your prospective buyer has identified the problem and some possible solutions, what will make your product or service, and company stand out from the competition?
According to a Gartner survey, the best way for sellers to articulate value is to share customer stories. 70% of executive buyers surveyed, felt that “customer stories and case studies are the best way that providers can communicate differentiation that I trust.”
Your buyer needs to be convinced they are making the right decision, which is why you need to work on establishing trust early in the process.
This may require a more detailed case study that outlines:
- What were the key pain points and challenges?
- What was the proposed solution?
- What solution was agreed upon and how was it implemented?
- Did you encounter any obstacles?
- What were the results and did the solution resonate?
If you don’t have a case study that outlines these five areas, consider working with your marketing team to develop a more in-depth testimonial. But don’t wait on your marketing team for this!
Get started today by outlining a few bullet points covering the success you’ve had with a current client. The better you can tell the story of who, what, why, and how you had success with other similar companies, the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate the benefits of your solution.
3. Influence Credibility
When a prospect is considering your solution, they want to be reassured you are credible, well known in the industry, and have worked with companies like theirs before. There’s no better way to do this than to share a similar client story or other types of examples to establish your authority in the industry.
Establishing credibility can work in two ways, the first is at the company level and the second is at the individual level.
Your company can become an authority by having a presence throughout the industry. This might include your CEO speaking at a highly recognized industry event, blogging for an important trade publication, or having individuals on your leadership team be considered as thought leaders and industry experts.
Now, let’s look at this from the individual point-of-view. What are you doing to establish your personal credibility as a seller of your solution? Are you joining discussions on LinkedIn that are relevant to your industry and could position you as an expert? Are you contributing to your company’s blog? Social media outreach? If you’re not, now is the time to start.
Staying active and up-to-date on industry news and events, at both the company and individual level, will only help to further your company’s relevance and expertise.
4. Incorporate a Story
Selling, at its core, is really just the art of conversation and storytelling. People are more likely to remember a story versus a bunch of numbers or statistics. Stories work because they make your solution more memorable and help your customer visualize or “test drive” how you would help them achieve their goals.
You’re probably thinking, “I get it! Sharing stories and examples is important.” But the art of storytelling takes practice to master and if you’re just starting to incorporate this into your sales approach, you need to keep these two things in mind:
1. What stage of the sales process is your buyer in?
Make sure you’re personalizing the type of story or example you’re sharing based on what stage of the process they’re in. You don’t want to overwhelm them or provide information they are not ready to hear. Remember to nurture each prospective buyer down the funnel and use your content resources wisely.
2. Are you sharing stories internally, among your peers?
As beneficial as it is to share success stories externally, to potential buyers, it’s just as important to share stories internally with your peers. Why? Because each member of your team has a unique perspective and experience that everyone needs to hear. Listening to what you colleagues are doing can help give you a fresh perspective to reassess your approach and also serves as storytelling practice. It’s a win-win.
If you want to accelerate your sales success, then remember to use stories and examples at every step of the sales process. It will help your prospects more easily identify their pain points, understand the ROI of the solution, establish your credibility, and tie everything together by incorporating a story, which makes it more memorable for your buyer.