CRO to CMO: “Tell Me A Customer Story”
Generate Excitement. Build Trust. Drive Urgency. Tell a customer story.
Everyone talks about the importance of using customer examples and proof points to ignite buyer excitement early on in sales cycles. Successful sales professionals use customer proof points and customer stories to build trust and confidence. I like to share customer stories to differentiate against the competition. Every successful hyper-growth company, like Salesforce and Netsuite, have storytelling part of their sales culture. At Salesforce, an important sales mantra we used was “users sell for you.” This mantra is designed to coach reps to share customer stories, references and proof points early and often in sales campaigns. The mantra comes to life in the SUCCESS formula.
Your goal, as sales and marketing leaders, is to enable reps to be ready to answer the following question in a compelling and consistent way:
Customer Question: “What’s an example of a company like mine using your product/service and realizing value?”
Sales Rep Answer: Let me tell you a story of a company like you that….
At the end of the story, the customer should say: “I want that.”
How to Make Customer Storytelling Part of Your Sales DNA
Here are ten tips you can use to nurture a culture of customer storytelling in your sales organization.
Tip # 1 – Crowdsource Stories: Work with sales, marketing, partners and customers to nurture and create customer stories that are emotional and quantifiable.
Tip # 2 – Map Stories to Selling: Provide direction to sales when and how to use customer proof points in the sales process.
Tip # 3 – Create a Storytelling Framework: Train and coach sales people on a framework for telling customer stories that maps to your culture, go-to-market and, industry.
Tip # 4 – Pitch: Strategically plant stories at the beginning of pitches to reinforce reps should lead with customer examples and proof points.
Tip # 5 – Coach Peers: Create a space for sales people to share their stories, practice how they tell stories, and peer coach.
Tip # 6 – Capture Wins: Create a flow of new stories with contests for reps to share new stories as deals close in Salesforce.
Tip # 7 – SPIFs: Set up incentives for reps who share stories & get stories scored high by peers.
Tip # 8 – Celebrate: Share customer wins at sales kick off events, on executive memos and in weekly sales huddles.
Tip # 9 – Push Stories to Mobile: Use mobile devices to share and capture winning stories with to and from the field.
Tip # 10 – Video Stories Work: Capture your customer story video testimonials from reps and customers for reference selling and coaching in video.
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Storytelling should be part of every salesperson’s talk track and sales tools. Telling a story that ignites a CEO’s imagination or compels a president to demand that action be taken immediately is a desired outcome of a great conversation grounded in customer storytelling.