Using the Customer Hero Story
is one powerful way to leverage Stories as a differentiator for improved performance.
I was excited about my new job and the high quality of smart people I had interviewed with at Management Science America many years ago. I had participated in a two-week on boarding program and now had to discuss with my manager my plan on how to work a seemingly good territory that had not produced for the company. I was somewhat surprised when he handed me a list of 5 people in key reference companies and insisted that this was my highest priority, to meet with them and learn. I was surprised at this assignment as we had active deals, seminars to fill, and pressing implementations. What a gift this turned out to be. As I met with those Customer Heroes, I learned more about our company, solutions, and value than anything I had experienced to date. I also came away with several good Stories that gave me confidence and ways to relate to new potential customers of why others buy from us and succeed. I am convinced that this advice and learnings helped me attain “Rookie of the Year” status, but more importantly it made me want to create Customer Heroes. Thank you, Doug MacIntyre.
Years later, I am realizing that Customer Hero Stories have always been important. Michael Porter, renowned Harvard Professor and author of Competitive Advantage, talks about companies that create differentiation by superior service. Selling to happy customers is 5 times less difficult than selling to new customers. 20% of our customers deliver 80% of our revenue and profit. SAAS companies know how important champions and demonstrating value are to usage and retention. And companies like Nordstrom, SAS, and Southwest have been competing this way for decades. Although not a new idea, what if we began creating Customer Hero Stories that cause us to focus intensely on customer success? What would that look like? Marketing and Sales, Customer Service, Strategic Account management all creating Customer Heroes and writing new chapters throughout the Buyers Journey with our company. This is a powerful idea we call a Nudge that we encourage you to consider.
Stories are the way we share and remember information, starting some 95,000 years ago. We all remember key events in our personal/work life that are etched in our brains through emotional Stories. And today we know from the latest research in neuroscience that Stories appeal to our subconscious brain, especially ones filled with emotion and a hero we identify with. Stories can break through the digital clutter, causing people to act. So, just imagine how powerful rallying your team or organization to create customer Heroes could be instead of focusing on us, our products or services. What if we inspired them to accomplish things with our capabilities that they never envisioned? And what if we shared these stories across our organization for accelerated learning, confidence, and internal collaboration? Now imagine how powerful it could be to relay these Customer Hero Stories to other prospects or customers, letting them step into the Story and imagine achieving similar results and accolades. Could this possibly be a more successful way to influence people than our tried and true PowerPoint slides all about us?
One quick story. In a recent workshop in London, the SVP, Jon, had CI2 facilitate his team building and telling Customer Hero Stories. There were many experienced people and several new people. It was an amazing experience as the team Gathered the Story from the team who had sold and implemented the solution. They learned a tremendous amount about the Struggles customers faced and the impact on Revenue/Risk; Profit and Cost; Customer Satisfaction; Employee Engagement; and top-level executive concerns. They saw examples of Tipping Points that caused their customer to transform from the old Status quo to a new digital marketing operation. They discussed in detail what marketing operations changed; how this reversed the negative impacts identified in the struggles; and why the Customer Heroes in these stories were adamant supporters of their company and platform. Through this building and telling of Customer Hero Stories, they have ‘upped their game”; bonded more closely as a team; and cemented their passion for their Customer Champions. Glen, their number one salesperson in 2017 at 350% of goal said “I have used stories often in my sales activities. But now I am committed to learning and practicing using them conversationally in every important meeting. I also will significantly change my demo openings to highlight prospect struggles and work in Stories. This is a powerful way to communicate.” Maia said, “I am an SDR with only several weeks on the job. Hearing these Customer Hero Stories has really made me feel good about my decision to come here. I learned so much about what caused our customers to change and can tell several of these Stories in a very condensed form to help with my prospecting.” The overall feedback from the group was that this was a valuable and powerful use of their precious time. Learning these Stories that were etched in someone “old hand’s” memory without a way to share was invaluable and immediately useable in many customer and prospect situations. That’s powerful.
CI2 loves helping our Customers change the conversation with Stories. Reply to firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of our Story Map and start your journey.
By: John Geraci, Co-Founder & CEO, Ci Squared LLC
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Or, why aren’t you breaking through the clutter?
You may ask yourself this question after a series of unanswered emails or a promising deal cut short. Here’s why. People don’t have time. What our research shows us is that the amount of incoming content to every person is staggering. “According to Time.com, the average person looks at his/her phone 46 times every day (up from 33 looks per day in 2014). Our new-ish -“always on” culture, complete with the enormous pressure of the expectation of instant responses, effects everything from the quality of our sleep to the depth of our relationships”. (Forbes)
In a fast paced world filled with overwhelming amounts of external and internal stimuli, people are of course:
- Busier than ever before
- Shifting priorities constantly
- Answering too many messages
- Bombarded with content
But if you do not realize this, your message or attempt to get through to a customer will undoubtedly fall flat. The most important mission of sales people and sales methods & techniques is to break through the static. Many current sales methodologies are stuck in the past, not reflecting the new behaviors of Buyer 2.0
Lack of understanding and not connecting personally with customers is a trait that unsuccessful sales people possess in abundance. They hog the conversation with chatter, solutions, features and functions instead of listening. They do not listen to or understand the customer. Humans crave emotional connections and a conversation that uncovers insights. According to this article on Openview, the top sales performers listen 54% of the time and talk 46% of the time. It’s not just that a conversation (not an interrogation) is happening, but the interesting topics that weave in and out of the conversation. What kind of sales conversations are you having? Is it just product, solutions, features and functions? Are you having trouble understanding and making a connection with your harried customers? Are you listening with empathy?
We believe that the world of work is changing dramatically and if you do not update your communication skills to have more insightful business conversations, you will struggle mightily.
Evaluate critically your business conversations to determine what needs to change and invest now to innovate and grow.