What might be the single most important asset for your sales and marketing toolkit?

  • If you are a sales person who has just joined a new software company, what would be the single most valuable tool the company could provide to you?

  • If you are a new presales person, what would be most valuable for you?

  • If you are a seasoned veteran in sales or presales, what information would help you sell more successfully and increase your ability to make your numbers?

  • If you are in marketing, what tool or information would be most useful for you to deliver to your field organization?

  • If you lead a channel or partner program, what do your channel partners want most from you?

The answer is the same in each case: customer success stories.

Why? Knowledge of how customers were able to address their business problems using your software enables you to engage, present and sell to other customers who have similar situations.

Though this is rather obvious, we often find that we lack sufficient depth and breadth in customer success stories that we can use in our day-to-day interactions with customers.

Why the lack?

Formal vs. Informal

We trumpet success stories that we receive from our customers—particularly those that have received official sanction from customer legal departments—and post them on our Web sites and in our literature. These are our formalized success stories. And, yet, these jewels are a small fraction of the wealth available to us. What's missing?

In the course of our careers, each of us collects success stories from our customers—the results of casual interactions, customer meetings, and users' group functions. The success stories that we glean we re-use when we speak with other customers or prospects who are in similar situations. Most of this information is never formally "blessed" by legal and is often used anecdotally—without mentioning specific customer names.

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Peter Cohan runs The Second Derivative out of Belmont, California. For more information, visit www.SecondDerivative.com.