Dry sales pitches that list product features don’t close deals. Because people don’t relate to features—they relate to stories. And that’s why storytelling is such a powerful sales tool.
In this post we’re going to take a look at how you can make storytelling a part of your sales process. We’ll also reveal how we introduced a new way of telling customer stories here at Troops.
Making Customer Stories a Natural Part of the Sales Process
The most powerful instrument in your sales tool stack is not your MA system or your CRM. It’s your ability to put your product into context, along with influencing and persuading your audience by telling customer stories.
But an arsenal of customer stories is of no use if your sales reps don’t know what to do with them. That’s why training is essential in making customer stories a part of your sales process.
Your reps need to know when, why and how to bring in customer stories to their conversations with prospects. This comes down to three things:
- Knowing the stories.
- Knowing the objections.
- Matching customer stories to objections and lookalike personas and situations during the conversation.
Traditionally, B2B customer stories come in very dense formats such as blog posts and PDFs. We shoot over a link or attach them in an email and wait for them to work their magic. These all have their place and time in the sales process, but what do you do when you have a high-value prospect on the phone and you need a fast and instantly compelling way of engaging them without:
- Making your sales reps memorize a lot of information, and
- Making your prospects consume a lot of information.
Let’s take a look at how we tackled this challenge at Troops.
The Challenge: Enabling Our Salespeople to Tell Stories
Troops offers a new and emerging product. While that’s really exciting, it comes with its own set of challenges. It requires educating people on the product, and what it is, but more so how it works in the context of their business, sales process and the impact it can have.
We found ourselves having conversations that mostly revolved around the product and its features, rather than talking about the results of using the product.
Our reps were struggling to bring in stories to sales conversations and point to the impact that Troops was having in a way prospects could relate to based on who they were and the discreet challenges they faced.
At this point, we had a few customer stories that we were training the sales team on, but we weren’t doing a great job at bringing them up in conversations with prospects. We also didn’t have a wide breadth of customer stories to use based on buyer persona, industry, challenges, and objections.
We know that stories work in sales, but the tough part is knowing which stories to tell, when and then enabling your team to leverage them at the right time. Faced with this challenge, we asked ourselves “How do we help our salespeople better tell stories?”
Soon, the idea of using playing cards formed.
A New Format — Why We Chose Playing Cards
When it comes to verbal communication you want to minimize what you ask your salespeople to do, and to remember. A 2000-word case study does not enable them to do a better job of delivering powerful and relevant customer stories during a sales call.
We needed a better way to make customer stories a part of our sales conversations that required minimal work from both our reps and our prospects.
The idea of creating customer cards came together based on three needs:
- Enjoyable: A way to make storytelling training enjoyable for our reps. Think flash cards!
- Engaging: A format that was engaging and could bring some friendly competition into the learning process. How many cards do you know?
- Ease of use: A way of making key information easily accessible in one glance, rather than having to dig through pages of text.
A physical card was something that catered to all of the above, so we went to work.
The Process of Developing Our Customer Story Cards
Once we had arrived at the decision that our new customer stories were going to be presented in the form of playing cards, the production process began. Here’s how it happened, step by step.
1. Choosing the Content
Deciding on what content should go on the cards was about distilling down what would be the most relevant to the prospect and deliver the most value. We also wanted to make it easy for sales people to remember.
Before we arrived at our final decision, we explored other approaches but it quickly became too much information.
In this case we needed the minimum effective dose to enable our reps, not overwhelm them. Here, we followed the 80/20 rule to allow them to effectively use the content and communicate the value.
2. Collecting the Data
Over a few days, we manually collected and organized the data in a spreadsheet. This included a total of 48 customers across a variety of industries and use cases. The information came from customer impact surveys, customer interviews and existing case studies.
The spreadsheet was populated with key information to go on the cards:
- Company name
- Company Description
- Number of Employees
- Trigger word
- Key statistic or ROI
- Under 220 character story of how they use Troops, the impact of using it company wide and on an individual level
- Name and role
Note: Revenue, stats, and descriptions have been removed for privacy.
3. Developing the Design
After collecting the data we worked with our designer to come up with a few different designs based on the content.
The outcome was to have a design that allowed the information to be quickly accessible to our sales reps.
Front of Card
- Company name
- Use case or trigger word(s)
- Company description
- Company size
- Company revenue
Back of Card
Hook: A headline with a quantifiable ROI, such as “20% Improvement in Speed of Decision Making and Sales Collaboration.”
History: A less than 200-character customer story on how they achieved the results. This is made up of two key components:
- How did they achieve that ROI?
- What were the results?
Hero: A sentence stating the personal impact on the person that implemented Troops.
The cards were primarily designed to be used internally, but we also thought about external use such as giving them out at conferences and sending to a channel partner. So we wanted the quality and the content to make sense for those use cases as well.
Here are some of the designs we came up with:
Note: Some of the words in the cards have been blurred out for privacy.
4. Printing Process and Cost
Once the cards were proofed, we were ready to print. We used PrintingForLess after receiving an initial quote for 200 card decks.
Cost of card decks: $12/deck of 48 cards
Total order: 200 decks
Total cost: $2400
Turn around time: 2 weeks
Things to Keep in Mind for Your Own Cards
1. Highlight the Individual You're Talking About
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to sell the impact on the company and forget that you’re selling to a human. That’s why we thought it was important to always highlight the individual in the stories. Stressing the personal impact is just as important as the company wide impact.
2. Think Outside of the Sales Team
The initial idea was to help customer facing teams and give them a way to use customer stories in conversations. But it was also important for the entire company to really understand the impact we’re bringing to customers. By understanding the impact we foster motivation and uphold a belief in what we’re doing and what we’re selling. We wanted to provide people with that.
3. Create Alignment across the Organization
We also included cards with the company mission, values and a positioning statement. A positioning statement is how we describe what we do in 1-2 sentences. We wanted everyone at Troops to have absolute clarity on what we’re here to do. So when asked, everyone at Troops could confidently deliver the same answer to “What is Troops?”
4. Make These Externally Friendly
Though the absolute intention of these cards was to train our team to be better storytellers, we didn’t want to preclude ourselves for using these outside the company. From channel partners to events we attend, people always ask, “How are the best companies using Troops?” This is a great giveaway for those scenarios. It’s also something powerful you can give to candidates in the hiring process as a “takeaway” gift.
Now, to the million dollar question: Did it work?
Implementing Customer Cards
We always try to be realistic and pragmatic in the way we train our salespeople. When we introduced the customer cards, we didn’t expect them to study the cards and learn them by heart right off the bat.
Instead, we wanted to weave them into the fabric of what we’re already doing. So we’ll make them a part of our meetings and bring up a few as examples or quiz people by simply passing them out. This is something we’ll keep doing until these stories become a natural part of our sales culture. In that way, there’s no formality around learning the stories, but rather let our reps make them a part of their sales routine on their own terms.
Although we only recently started to use this method, we can already see an increase in the recall of remembering the number of companies we have success stories with. We’ve also seen a wider variety of stories being used on calls in a way that’s relevant to the prospect we’re talking to.
We’re excited to keep implementing the new customer cards, learn more about how to best use them, and make them a natural part of the sales process here at Troops.
Do you want to increase collaboration and drive growth? Learn more about Troops and how you can supercharge your sales performance.