Everyone loves a good story. In fact, it’s been said that 87% of people remember stories from a presentation, but only 43% remember statistics.
I’d be happy to walk through the door of my office to find my entire sales team telling stories – all day long.
Chip Heath, a Stanford University professor, cites the work of psychologist Gary Klein. According to Klein, “stories are effective teaching tools; they illustrate casual relationships that people might not have recognized before and highlight resourceful ways in which people have solved problems.” Additionally, stories help to motivate our audiences to act.
3rd-party stories (in most sales scenarios – this is a customer story) are a huge part of how our sales team here at TechValidate communicates value to our prospective customers.
Talking about yourself and how good you are? Awkward.
Sharing stories of what our customers have done? That’s something someone will stay on the phone to hear.
In our sales training, we teach that the most important factor in the success of a 3rd-party story is relevance. Successful use of relevance boils down to this: did we connect with the prospect? Did the prospect see herself in the shoes of the individual mentioned in the story?
Relevance can be broken down into a few categories:
- Company/Industry matching – if we’re talking to a network firewall vendor, we’re going to mention stories from our customers in the space like Barracuda, Palo Alto Networks, HP, and Dell. If we’re talking to a healthcare company, we’re going to tell stories about how we solved issues for GE Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, and Siemens Healthcare.
- Pain / Persona matching – are we talking to a CMO who is frustrated that he’s not getting enough return from his investment with an analyst firm? Are we talking to a customer reference manager in charge of case study creation who’s taking heat from the sales team because he can’t deliver fresh collateral? While TechValidate can help both of those audiences, their stories should be very different.
So ideally, if you’re talking to a customer reference manager in the healthcare space – talk about how you’ve helped customer reference managers in the healthcare space. The tricky part is having a big enough library/matrix of stories. If you had 6 key verticals, and 4 key personas – then you need 24 unique stories! That turns out to be a ton of customer evidence the marketing team is on the line for – which is a topic for a different day.