Today's post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView.
Most sales professionals already use customer success stories, albeit informally, to speed up the sales cycle; however, these stories are not often properly leveraged by marketing. In most cases, this is because marketing thinks the sales team doesn’t have time to share such stories, or the company is waiting until clients have spent a few months using the solution or product to see what measurable results can be rolled into a case study.
Formalizing customer success stories is easier than you think, and one reason is that full-page case studies are being phased out in favor of stories that showcase the customer’s journey in stages, from onboarding to renewal and beyond. That means you don’t have to wait as long or put in as much time to include these stories as part of your formal messaging.
At InsideView, we’re mining opportunities to share and leverage customer success snippets at each stage of the sales funnel, every day. We are always on the lookout for happy customers who are already engaging with our sales, customer-success, and account-management teams. Here’s what we pull out at each stage of the customer lifecycle.
Top-of-the-funnel snippets showcase customer quotes or simple metrics to pique interest and drive leads. For example, a stakeholder at “Customer X” gave glowing feedback to his sales rep about his experience with your product at implementation. Use this feedback in top-of-the-funnel conversations, and post them on your Website’s home page.
Middle-of-the-funnel snippets highlight a customer’s company profile, challenges experienced before implementation, results and metrics after using your product or service, and quotes. For example, “Customer X” had a business review with its customer success manager, and together they identified a couple huge wins over the first few quarters using your product. Use these customer profiles in middle-of-the-funnel conversations, and post them on Web pages strategically.
Bottom-of-the-funnel snippets are the most in-depth success stories. They dive into product use cases and tell a deeper customer backstory – think video testimonials and prose. For example, “Customer X” now has about a year (or more) of experience with your product. The customer success manager just renewed the account, and your account executive just closed a cross-sale deal. Use this story in bottom-of-the-funnel conversations, and house them in a public success-story directory on your site.
The success-snippet approach allows sales and marketing to work together to tell a piece of the story at each stage of the sales cycle, and it enables the two teams to work together every step of the way toward quota. As the customer grows, the story becomes a little longer and a little richer. It also helps you build a pipeline of happy customers to talk about in the future so you can close more deals.