By Kirsten Mortensen
Marketing managers use several tools for converting prospects into buyers. If your business is not using customers to tell compelling stories about your services, you are missing out on one of the best tools you have.
Here are four reasons why customer references are indispensable in today’s sales environment:
Customer references help establish credibility. They help balance out bias that prospects know is part of a salesperson’s pitch. That’s because a customer’s story presents the experiences of people outside your company—people who actually use your products. Just as you’re more likely to believe a friend that praises a restaurant than the restaurant’s television ad, your prospects are more likely to believe their peers about the value of your company’s offerings.
Another reason customer references are so powerful is that they describe real-world situations. Whereas many marketing pieces deal in abstractions, customer stories show how people or companies are actually deriving the value you promise. The customer adds heft and substance to your company’s product positioning.
At their most elemental level, customer references are about how your current customers are using your company’s products successfully. The beauty of customer stories is that they help people imagine new situations where those products will work. As a result, customer references help prospects “try on” what your company has to offer.
Customer references give your sales team highly practical ways to begin their conversations with real prospects—at every point along the buyers’ journey. From piquing a prospect’s interests to closing deals, a customer story is invaluable.
References can be used to address doubts or objections, illustrate points your sales team makes during presentations, or re-start conversations that have lapsed. The publication of a fresh new customer reference, for example, can therefore serve as an excellent trigger for sales teams to connect with prospects considering your company’s products but who haven’t yet finalized their decisions.
Customer references are powerful tools that equip sales and marketing experts with stories to engage prospects and close deals. It’s no surprise that high-performing companies worldwide invest substantial resources in cultivating reference relationships and leveraging those relationships to create and publish reference assets.