Not to brag, but we’ve helped a lot of enterprise, mid-market and SMB companies tell their B2B customer success stories. Doing so is always fun, and it helps our customers show prospects how the vendor’s solution has solved a problem that a company similar to the prospect’s company was having—and that they likely have themselves.
It’s important to show prospects that their peers are getting benefits from your solution, and to do so in their own words, because studies show that 53 percent of B2B buyers rely on peer recommendations before making any purchase decisions.
But there’s commonly one challenge we come across when building those stories: The customer has a challenge communicating the measurable performance improvements (metrics or key performance indicators [KPIs]) they’re seeing as a result of the new solution/product/service.
They may say "sales have increased", or they "definitely have better relationships with their clients and prospects", but they’re not able to give tangible data that supports those claims. Sales increases could be attributed to a number of factors, they’ll mention. Or they’re not sure how much interaction they had with clients and prospects before the implementation.
And therein lies the problem: They don’t have enough “before” data for a great before-and-after comparison. And without strong, tangible data to support your solution’s impact, your success story will be weaker than it should.
For Convincing B2B Customer Success Stories, Start Early—Before The Implementation
But you (or we) can fix that problem easily enough. It just takes forethought.
You need to start collecting data before the implementation even begins. Early in the process have your marketing people ask the client questions like: "What are your specific goals?" and "What do you hope to accomplish with this solution?"
Based on their responses, you’ll be able to figure out two or three areas that should improve after the implementation. Look at those areas and collect metrics associated with them. Write those metrics down for later. Then, after the implementation has been successful and the customer has (hopefully) been getting those anticipated results, go back and get those same metrics, which will now show improvements.
That will make for a persuasive before-and-after comparison.
Other Roadblocks to Compelling Data—And How to Overcome Them
Sometimes, the lack of before numbers isn’t the problem. I have seen a variety of reasons why a customer hasn’t been able to provide solid measurable performance results: Some clients try to keep performance metrics confidential; others don’t invest in measuring performance results as well as they should; for others, the solution hasn’t been implemented long enough for good performance metrics; and, in some cases, the performance metrics aren’t that good, so they’re hesitant about divulging them.
I'd like to offer two quick tips if you’re having trouble getting great metrics from a customer:
- Consider waiting longer; if you do, will you be able to better measure impact and KPIs?
- If they’re concerned about revealing confidential numbers, or if the numbers aren’t really that impressive, consider using percentage improvements. An increase in sales from 50 to 60 a year might not sound too impressive, but a 20 percent increase in sales does!
BayCreative: We Get Them Talking
At BayCreative, we’re experts at drawing out the kinds of metrics that create strong B2B customer success stories. So if you’re looking to build your library, and tell some great stories, please let us know.