In sales, showing measurable results helps persuade customers. But when customers start holding a little more tightly onto their money, it’s even more essential to include those details in your customer success stories.

Return on investment details, or ROI, are so persuasive, but so hard to draw out of customers. Here are four tips for getting the numbers you need:

1. Survey Customers Before Bringing in Your Solution Before you deliver a product or service, assess the customer’s current situation. Ask questions relevant to your business and what you provide for customers that attempts to measure specific areas. Keep it brief and preferably in a live call or visit, rather than written. This gives everyone a valuable baseline metric on which to compare future results.

2. Ask the Same Questions Again Later Go back with the exact same questions at a point when most customers see benefits. That allows you to compare changes on a before-and-after basis, and see measurable results. It’s not only valuable data for customer stories, but also helps you and customers clearly see the impact of the solution.

3. Get More Specific in Questioning With many customers, results-gathering can feel like pulling teeth. Usually it’s not because they don’t want to provide numbers, but rather because they haven’t though about it or don’t not find it necessary to measure their own results. Try guiding them along:

Q: At what points are you realizing time-savings with the solution?

A: It saves us quite a bit of time throughout the day.

Q: What are some of the daily tasks that the solution streamlines for you?

A: It really helps by automating administrative tasks. Q: Which administrative tasks does it automate?

A: The process of converting quotes to orders.

Q: How long did it take before to convert quotes to orders, and how long does it take now?

Notice that each question gets increasingly more detailed. However, pay attention to the customer’s responses and ease up if it seems as though she is frustrated with the line of questioning.

4. Suggest Metrics for Your Customer

If you know what other customers have experienced in the way of measurable results, you can suggest numbers and see how that compares to the customer’s situation. Example:

Q: Some customers have found that they reduce the time to process a shipment from five minutes to about one minute per shipment? Is that about what you have experienced? Across how many packages per week?

Customers will either confirm they experience the same benefits or will share other numbers. With that, you can calculate a time-savings. Then take it a step further to find out if that allows them to put off hiring or reallocate staff to other activities. If they have seen such benefits, then try to quantify that in terms of cost-savings.

You might want to do the math for the customer and present possible cost-savings right in the case study draft for the customer to review.

If the numbers are off, then the customer will correct them. If the company isn’t comfortable providing ROI numbers, then they’ll let you know. It never hurts to try. At least you know you did your best to get better detail in a success story!

Casey Hibbard of Compelling Cases is the author of the first published book on the topic of customer stories, coming out in mid-2008, “Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset.” For more tips, download the no-cost e-report, “The 10 Biggest Mistakes Case Study Writers Make” at http://www.compelling-cases.com/

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