• David Verhaag

Fact or Fiction?

What’s your favorite customer story?

You know the one. It’s the go-to in meetings when you need to give an example of how your company drives results. It’s your go-to when you need to give an example of the collaborative approach your team takes. It’s your go-to, well, for just about any situation. It fits. It’s comfortable. It’s like that old pair of sweatpants you wear when your spouse is out of town.

You’ve probably told it hundreds of times. It’s probably a great story. After embellishing it a bit here and there to fit the situation, it’s probably still (mostly) true. And your peers, whether they are Pre-Sales, Sales, Customer Success or Marketing, all have their own go-to stories. And it’s no surprise, storytelling is one of the most effective ways to communicate your brand and value proposition.

It’s often said, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” or in today’s hyper-competitive environment, never let the facts get in the way of a compelling pitch. Have you ever sat in on a call and winced at the version of the same customer story your colleagues told? Did you sit there and think, really, is that true?

Embellishing the facts in customer stories is a risk a lot of people take. No one is going to fact check your pitch in the meeting. Right? Your colleague is probably not going to stand up and yell, “Liar!” mid-pitch. But that doesn’t mean you never stray from the truth.

Here are three things you can do to ensure your favorite customer stories are not entirely fictitious.

Fact Check Yourself

After telling the same story over and over it’s easy to start softening the edges a bit. Maybe implementation wasn’t really 12 months but six months plus some time to “roll things out”. Maybe product adoption wasn’t weak for the first year. Maybe it was just “delayed a bit” by specific department priorities. Maybe. Or maybe you are just making shit up to fit the need in the moment.

To keep your customer stories nonfiction go ahead and fact check yourself. Pull out the documented case study or white paper every once in a while and revisit the facts. If you are skeptical that this is a priority, ask yourself, if your prospect or customer happens to find that case study on your website or hear the customer speak at your conference, how well is your story going to match theirs?

Add New Stories

It’s easy to latch on to that comfortable story the same way it is easy to keep wearing your favorite sweatpants even after the seat has blown out. In the telling and retelling, your stories get tired. Not only do they get old, factually questionable and out of date, your storytelling can often take on a droning pattern. Bueller. Bueller. If that sounds a bit like you it’s time to mix it up with some new stories.

It’s a sad fact of content marketing that 60 - 70% of content is never used and Sales and CX often rely on the same 5% of content. It’s an easy way to differentiate yourself. Simply read what your marketing team is publishing and add a few of the stories to your everyday repertoire. You’ll quickly find your colleagues asking, “How do you know all this?” Not only that, take a few of the new stories out for test drives with prospects and customers and you’ll find new energy and emotion in the fresh content and storytelling.

Share Customer Moments

In a lot of organizations, the great customer stories are locked up in the minds of the team that worked with the customer. That’s a shame. These stories might fit a host of challenges that prospects and customers currently face. They might help create connections across customers with similar challenges and journeys. They might be compelling enough for marketing to document. If only they weren’t locked away.

Creating a forum to share customer moments is an easy way to ensure that your organization starts to unlock these great stories. The stories don’t have to be published, polished or chiseled into stone tablets. Just give your team an opportunity to tell them in a company meeting, via a customer moment slack channel or another forum where everyone in Sales, CX, and Marketing can learn just a bit more about the customer base.

BONUS: Use Olifano

It can be hard to remember the Chevron customer story. It can be even harder to find the Chevron case study or that white paper your company published with them last year. Did you even know that Chevron was one of your customers?

Olifano brings information like this into the flow of your work so you don’t have to search for it. Simply type Chevron case study in the course of an email or on any Chrome page and Olifano will automatically highlight it and give you a link to the marketing resource you need. We make it easy to get and stay aligned with your customer stories.

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