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25 Ways to Build Trust (and Sales!) with Customer Success Stories

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A major survey on corporate trust just came out, and the news isn't good.

Of people surveyed in 20 countries, 62% say they trust corporations less now than they did a year ago (2009 Edelman Trust Barometer).

People do business with people they like and trust, so how can you inspire trust during the current crisis of credibility?

Buyers are increasingly turning to real experiences to give them the confidence that products, services, and people deliver what they promise. In the age of Amazon.com reviews and eBay feedback, prospects are looking for anecdotes from other happy customers.

Capturing the experiences of your most successful customers not only boosts your credibility but also educates buyers and shows them the payoff of your solutions.


Here are 25 ways to use customer success stories in your sales and marketing to increase buyers' trust.

1. Web sites: Your site is often a buyer's first impression of your company. Start building the relationship on a foundation of credibility by highlighting your successes right from the homepage and anywhere on the site where you talk about the benefits of your solutions.

2. Newsletters: Run customer success stories in newsletters that go to prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

3. Blogs: When making a point in a blog post, use a customer success story as an example.

4. Direct marketing: Highlight a customer's success in a mailer, either as a full story or an overview, to prospects and customers.

5. Email: Capture the attention of prospects and customers by using a compelling customer story in an email campaign, or as a one-off to a hot lead.

6. Advertising: Showcase a customer's success story as an advertisement in a key industry publication or online.

7. Webinars: Feature a successful customer on a webinar for prospects or customers.

8. Live events: Invite customers to tell their stories at industry conferences or other events.

9. Training sales reps: Integrate customer successes into sales training to educate and excite reps about the value that your company's products and services deliver for customers.

10. PowerPoint presentations: Add slides into sales presentations, summarizing a couple of customer successes.

11. Sales letters: Get the attention of busy prospects by kicking off a sales letter with a concise customer success story.

12. Sales conversations: People listen more closely when someone starts telling a story. Engage prospects in live or phone conversations with a relevant example of a successful customer.

13. Voice mail: When leaving a voice mail for a prospect, mention a specific result a customer experienced. Mention another key result in the next voice mail.

14. Proposals: Include a couple of customer stories in a proposal for new business.

15. Venture-capital proposals/presentations: Emphasize customer success stories when making your case for investment capital or loans.

16. Case-study booklets: Create booklets that highlight several of your key customer success stories.

17. Press releases: Catch the attention of busy editors with a "story press release," one that recounts the success of a specific customer.

18. Pitching stories to the media: Make an email or phone pitch to a targeted media contact with a compelling customer success story as the angle.

19. Contributed articles: Submit an article featuring a customer's success to a publication or website targeted to your audience.

20. Industry-awards submissions: Include full or summarized customer success stories with awards applications.

21. New-employee orientation: Use customer success stories to educate new employees about the organization's value to those it serves, and keep telling employees those stories.

22. Fundraising appeals/grant proposals: Nonprofits can weave success stories into every printed, verbal, or other appeal for support.

23. Annual reports: Bring life to an annual report by showcasing the people and companies behind the numbers.

24. Online communities: When engaging in conversation in online communities, reference a successful customer's results when it's relevant to the conversation.

25. On-hold message: Play audio of a customer telling his or her story on your phone-s on-hold message. As callers wait, they'll learn about the value your company delivers.

What would you add to the list? Get creative in leveraging your powerful customer success stories in all your internal and external communications, and trust will follow.


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Casey Hibbard of Compelling Cases Inc. (www.compelling-cases.com) is the author of Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales and Marketing Asset (www.storiesthatsellguide.com).

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  • by Anton Tue May 12, 2009 via web

    And I know a way to get hold on those success stories easily. I use a tool to gather customer testimonials online. You can find it on www.our-clients.com.

  • by Tia Dobi Tue May 12, 2009 via web

    Item 25.5 - How to effectively write a good customer success story. Using customer success stories is like advertising - great if done well, not so if not.

    Enjoyed this list...which is about placement.

    Now follow up with the how-to because too often, the stories aren't written well and the ROI can be dismal when that's the case. :-D

    Peace and profits,

    Tia Dobi, Hypnotic copywriting and marketing that sells more
    http://www.twitter.com/tiadobi

  • by atul chatterjee Wed May 13, 2009 via web

    Why are people less trustful of corporations in the past year? And that too across 20 countries?
    This is what needs to be ascertained and tackled.

  • by Isah Ismail Mon May 18, 2009 via web

    The prevailing global economic meltdown has made is even more crucial for companies to celebrate sucess stories of customers and as such, these tips on building customer loyalty is invaluably timely as businesses and marketing communications practitioners will do better adopting these tips.

  • by Patrick Kuras Thu May 21, 2009 via web

    I don't think trust is primarily formed by pushing customer testimonials / success stories. It's about being transparent, open, honest, human and engaged with customers.

    Customers want to do business with companies they trust, yes. But I think trust comes from telling the truth in a human voice (not corporate-speak), and participating in conversation with customers.

    See my blog post at http://patrickkuras.com/2009/04/29/the-value-of-trust-in-the-age-of-social-... for more on my take.

  • by Nicky Jameson Tue May 26, 2009 via web

    Some suggestions for how to get the customer success stories:
    Ask your customers
    Provide a forum for customers to share their experiences and frequent it... sometimes even if the feedback is mixed success comes at the end. I frequently share my success stories in forums when recommending services to others in that forum or helping out.

    Get a great copywriter to interview your customers who have used your products and services and ask them, then write in their own (customers) words.

    Plan to get feedback at the beginning - not as an afterthought.
    Ask, ask, ask for testimonials. I am amazed at how many people do not ask for testimonials (assuming their customers are pleased with their service) and feedback.
    Ask for recommendations... then ask why they would recommend.
    Provide the ability for customers to record their success stories on your blog or website.
    Make it easy for people to give you feedback. And don't make them jump through hoops with complicated registration forms to do so.
    Remember that success stories are a lot harder to get than customer complaints. But all in all a complaint is like gold dust as it tells you what you need to fix. If you have a happy customer at the end of it, that's a success.


  • by James Watson Thu Dec 17, 2009 via web

    There are two other sources (besides the customers) that can provide customer success stories:

    Customer Support Representatives- they speak to customers regularly, and undertstand how the customers use the products.

    Customer Account Managers, or sales reps - they understand the reasons that customer buy the product in the first place, and are well positioned to followup with the customer, to assure they attain ROI - and that often involves a success story.

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