We're pleased to present this guest post by Casey Hibbard, customer success story specialist, to kick off the new year. Read on to see all the ways that companies benefit from customer stories.
Not only are positive customer experiences powerful in attracting new customers, but in fact, organizations that sell without them could be losing out.
According to research firm Gartner, a potential customer is 2.5 times more likely to buy when the vendor can articulate its message with a customer reference (aka happy customer).
Here are 10 ways that customer stories help companies market and sell better -- from lead generation to closing deals to selling more to current customers.
1. Get traffic to your website– Customer stories are innately keyword-rich, helping bring potential buyers to your site through web searches. For more proactive traffic-generation, tease and link to stories from social sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
2. Generate leads– When customer stories are used as offers in campaigns, they drive prospects to your site where they can sign up for events or demos, or download content. Make sure your teaser is appropriately attractive. Example: “Learn how ABC Company Reduced Its Costs by 40%.”
3. Land media placements– Editors are always looking for compelling stories for their audiences. When presented with a generic product press release, or one that features a customer’s success, editors most often choose the real customer story.
4. Position against the competition– During a prospect’s evaluation phase, customer stories provide real-world examples that highlight how you differ from the competition.
5. Close sales– How do you best counter questions and objections in the sales process? How about citing how another customer solved the challenge in question. Customer stories with strong results and messages that directly address buyer concerns help close sales.
6. Win awards– Industry awards are a major missed opportunity for many organizations. Pull your best customer success stories into industry awards submissions – and win – and you and your customer benefit from immediate and ongoing exposure. It’s also a promising way to get a hesitant customer to go on record with their success.
7. Deepen customer relationships– Participating in a case study often helps customers realize just how much has been accomplished with your product, service or solution. Plus, the act of participating in a co-marketing activity, touting success, puts you and customers both in positive light.
8. Relieve current customers from too many phone calls– Companies that use current customers on calls with prospects can relieve those references by documenting stories for repeated use.
9. Up-sell to current customers– Help current customers understand the value of upgrading or expanding what they currently have. Or use a case study about one division or department to sell to another within the same organization.
10. Reinforce your brand– Branding is about reinforcing your key messages over and over. Add power to your brand with customer experiences that match those messages.
About the author: Casey Hibbard of Compelling Cases helps companies capture customer stories that earn trust, win sales, land PR and secure funding. She’s also the author of “Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset.” Sign up to receive a customer-story tip each month at http://www.storiesthatsellguide.com.