Using Success Stories
A success story shows how you made a difference to your customer’s business. More than a list of events or activities, it describes a positive change and shows how that change benefited the customer, not you, through improved financial results or widely understood key business metrics.
A success story describes results that are valued by prospective clients and should:
- Contain compelling and significant facts
- Catch the attention
- Articulate who benefits and how
- Answer: “So what?”
- Spell out your role in achieving results
- Be easy to read and understand
- Assume the reader knows nothing
The ultimate aim of the success story is to impact the buying decision positively and in your favour by painting a vision of success that a Chief Executive can believe in.
There is a simple structure to follow:
- A headline with an eye-catching, relevant improvement to a customer’s business performance
- A quantification of the business benefits to that customer, with metrics that are believable
- A brief description of the original business problem, the implication of it not being solved (such as lost revenue, cost overrun or poor governance.)
- A description that outlines the solution that the customer has adopted, using plain business language. Pictures are better than words
- A statement that spells out why you were uniquely able to develop and implement the solution.
Your aim should be to tell the story from the perspective of one or two of your customer’s Senior Executives, so you should take the opportunity to conduct an informal interview with them. Not only will this provide information and quotations to use in the success story; it is also a great opportunity to convince them that the project was an even bigger success than they realised.
If you exceeded customer expectations then you may want to be able to mention it to the Chief Executive you meet. Equally if you fell short of expectations in any area then you need to plan to mitigate the shortfall in the vision. Senior Executives like success stories but they also like to test you where a project went wrong to see how you resolved it to their satisfaction.
First and foremost the message is about how your customer achieved success, so listen to their story. Prompt them if necessary and give additional value by providing them with extra benefits they may not already know. Listen for one or two powerful quotations – there is no need to get them word perfect as your client will be happy for you to re-phrase them.
SUCCESS STORY CONTENT
- Measurable financial improvements:
- Income, cost, assets, cash-flow
- High ROI
- Well recognised ‘in process metrics’ improvements e.g. Inventory turn, Loyalty
- Soft benefits such as customers’ customers, staff, suppliers
- Demonstrate connection between your activity and benefits
Pose the problem
- What was preventing performance?
- Who owned the issue?
- Impacts on results, KPIs, customers
- Difficulties a solution must overcome
- What is happening now?
- What did you contribute?
- The major aspects of the programme
- Your unique capabilities
- What can this success lead to with the customer?
- The next steps underway
HOW BALANCED IS YOUR SUCCESS STORY?
Once you’ve written your success story, get three highlighter pens and:
- Mark all text in Red, which is bland, technical facts, or doesn’t answer the question “So what?”
- Mark in Yellow the text that suggests a slight advantage to the client
- Mark in green the text that clearly gives a measurable benefit to the client
Are you happy with the balance?
For more advice on creating powerful success stories and how to use them, call us now on 01494 716 688 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image by “Ampel-Goettingen-23b”. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons