There is no doubt that the best source of new business is existing business. This is not an original notion - but one that I feel is often overlooked and under valued in popular sales methodologies and effectiveness courses. As a corporate sales coach, I often find that most good sales representatives can speak fluently about published case studies and the most popular marquee accounts in the client base. If your company serves it’s customers well - there should be endless anecdotal information that can be shared across an enterprise. I encourage sales professionals to seek out and share the stories of how their solutions and financial management
truly help their customers day to day. We spend so much time talking about selling benefits and business value. What better way to truly sell value than to leverage the passion of your happy customers? Make a commitment to immerse yourself in the success of your satisfied customers. Here are some ways you and your organization can profit:
Gain powerful anecdotal evidence.
One of the most effective ways to internalize value and map solutions to your prospects, is to thoroughly understand what your existing customers have gained by working with you. Focus on what your customers are saying about you and commit their exact words to memory. Why are they so happy? What positive results have they experienced by using your solutions? What was by far the greatest advantage that they found by using your products or services? What did that really mean to the top and bottom line? Get the knowledge that you need to turn around and tell powerful, anecdotal stories to your target accounts. We spend a lot of time trying to memorize sales and marketing spiels when the most powerful words are the ones spoken by our own customers. Become a great story teller and use real life anecdotes to paint the picture of success for your prospects. This is an effective method to get your prospects to visualize your solutions and the positive business outcomes of working with you.
Renew your passion.
If you looked at the most successful, elite sales people across any organization, you will always see a passion for what they sell. This is not something that can be taught or something that is easily faked. The belief that your products and services will undoubtedly help your customers is one of the most powerful sales tools that you have at your disposal. Over time, work issues can dilute our belief that what we do is for the greater good of the customer. There is no better way to renew your energy and passion for the job than speaking with happy customers. A sales person with passion truly wants to understand their customer’s needs and how an offering fits into that picture. When a sales person is fully invested in "The Best Customer Success Stories Ever", that passion will translate into success for customers and prospects.
Turn referrals into new customers.
As you are having these great conversations with your customers (and they are telling you exactly why they are so satisfied) this is an opportune time to ask for referrals. They just told you how and why you have helped them, and there is no better time to remind them that you would greatly appreciate any referrals or introductions. Asking for those important introductions is a crucial piece of the sales life cycle, yet only 30% of sales people ask for referrals on a regular basis. Those sales people who actively seek and exploit referrals earn four to five times more than sales people who don’t. Studies show that referral business allows close ratios as high as 60% to 80%. Referral business also reduces your sales expense and the length of your sales cycle. When a prospect is introduced to your organization through someone that he trusts, you are more likely to close a larger sale as a result. Put a plan in place to get referrals. Provide a clear picture of the type of referral you are looking for and do your homework on the front end of these meetings to identify contacts that you would like to meet. This exercise also helps you get informal testimonials that you can use in your sales cycle. Make it easy for your customers to say yes by offering to do the work for them. Write the introductions that they can send on your behalf and offer to write your own testimonials if they would be willing to send them back to you with any changes or edits.
Create Repeat Customers.
When you meet with your customers and ask them to share success stories, this will remind those customers why they bought from you in the first place. Your customers will begin to resell themselves on you and your solutions and it will encourage them repeat the cycle. Existing customers are five times more likely to buy from you than brand new prospects. Happy customers may be ten times more likely to buy! Success, happiness and passion are contagious. Catch it! 🙂
A Sample Training Exercise.
Produce and share short audio segments titled “The Best Customer Success Story I Ever Heard”. Archive and share these stories across an organization.
The task is to find a customer, interview them and produce a great customer success story. Some customers will naturally be more forthcoming with relevant information and some will need more prodding with good questions and leads like “tell me more about that…” The segment should only be a few minutes long (as long as it takes to tell a good story) but you will need to think about relevant questions to ask ahead of time.
The success story should focus on the results that the customer has realized. The story should not focus on sales process…fast forward to the point where they are an existing, happy customer. Why are they so happy? What positive results have they experienced? The success story should always be from the customer’s perspective. The ultimate goal of the story should focus on the results.
You can record the audio by using a Webex meeting or an audio recording via phone or tablet.
If you are looking for ideas, I have listed some interview questions that would allow you to build onto a great story:
“Tell me as much as you can about how we helped you.”
Hopefully you will get several benefits as examples. Are there any questions that you should ask to quantify those benefits and get more specific information like numbers, ratios, percentages etc? Any questions that you could ask to make it a more compelling story?
“How did this customer describe the experience of working with us? What did they say about how we helped them? Do you remember any words or phrases specifically that paint the picture of a really happy customer?”
“Is there anything else that you think I should know?”
Have fun with this exercise!