Salesforce Customer Success Stories: what we can learn

In this post, we’ll explore how Salesforce are using Customer Success Stories and highlight some of the key story features.  Please note, these are my opinions only and I have no inside knowledge!

Why Salesforce?  Salesforce has hugely influenced the Customer Success profession and are generally held up as the poster child of the SaaS world.  The marketing team have huge resources that have tried and tested the application of Customer Success Stories. If you know of an organization using Customer Success Stories better, let me know I’d love to see it. 

You can read how Stories are used in Salesforce at their Trailhead page (login required for their learning platform). It’s a fascinating read about stories and how they are part of the Salesforce culture.

“Stories are the new currency of Salesforce. It’s how we measure and communicate success, inspire customers and ourselves.”

Marc Benioff, Chairman & CEO, Salesforce

and it has a section on Customer Success Stories

Our Customer Success Stories help potential customers relate to our existing customers. It’s much easier for customers to envision what they could do with our products through customer stories than through product features and future plans.

SALESFORCE TRAILHEAD

It’s very clear, Salesforce understand the power of stories at the very top level.

Let’s look at how they use Customer Success Stories on their home page (Salesforce.com US version at Feb 2021):

The Homepage – above the fold

Salesforce.com home page

They lead with a Customer Success Story – ‘See how Common moves faster’ with a picture of a smiling customer in the prime image location surrounded by case studies.  Note they don’t use the words ‘customer’ or ‘success’ or ‘story’ here, but they show an image of smiley, successful customer.  Worth considering what they’re NOT leading with: they aren’t displaying their product, an image of a user using their product or even images of their product characters in their prime location, it is an image of one of their users.  The image of the user has his name, job title and organization logo to give background and credibility to the user.

Homepage – below the fold

As you scroll down, you can see another Customer Story this time a video under the Explore section

Salesforce Customer Success Story Video

The headline has the words ‘Customer Story’ with another image of a smiley, successful customer.

And finally in the footer we have more Customer Success Stories, this time labelled ‘Customer Success’. 

Salesforce Customer Success Story Footer

Interestingly it’s listed under the ‘New to Salesforce’ section and above ‘Product pricing’.  It’s clear Customer Success Stories are not an afterthought, Customer Success Stories are a key part of the exploration stage of buyer journey.  

It’s also interesting to note what isn’t on the homepage? 

  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • FOMO pop-ups

In terms of social proof, they very much focus on Customer Success Stories.

The Customer Success Story page

Opening up the Customer Success link brings you to the central Customer Success Stories page.

Salesforce Customer Success Story

The leading Customer Story is e.l.f with both a video and text version of the story, Video is the primary CTA.

Scrolling down invites visitors to Explore all the Trailblazers who are succeeding with Salesforce. 

Salesforce Customer Success Story Filters

If you aren’t aware, Trailblazers are customers that are recognised within the Salesforce ecosystem as being pioneers or leaders (more here).  This is the aspirational Salesforce tribe.

On the left is the Filter Stories option, enabling the visitor to Explore and find tribe members that are similar to them.  This filter is vital.  If there aren’t enough customers to provide multiple stories for each segment, then the visitor will reject the tribe as ‘not like me’.  So if an SME prospect filters the stories and returns only Enterprise customers, they will assume Salesforce is not for them.  There needs to be enough stories for each top-level filter and I assume is the reasons there isn’t the ability to filter by use-case – the filter would return too few results and put the prospect off.

Now let’s open a couple of stories:

Customer Success: Fike

Salesforce Customer Success Story: Fike

Lots to look at here:

  • Again the picture and videos are of smiling people are much bigger than organization logos.
  • Headline is simple and related to the benefit of Salesforce
  • Social share icons allow the story to be shared.  Note, this is not available to all stories

Let’s look at another in more detail, this time of Unilever

Customer Success Story: Unilever

Salesforce Customer Success Story: Unilever

More smiley people, in TrailBlazor hoodies across departments.  Smaller organization logo’s.  This time there are multiple characters in the story here.

Again we have a simple, direct headline “Unilever grows sustainable brands with Salesforce” – they could have been clever with the brand names but chose to be direct and highlight the benefits of using Salesforce.  This is the theme, or takeaway message found throughout the story.

On the left panel are more ‘Related stories’ to encourage exploring.  On the top are the products used – again more exploration jump off points.

If we zoom out and look at the outline of the story you will see huge CTA buttons (highlighted with red box). 

Salesforce Customer Success Story CTA

The banner takes up the entire page and interrupts the story like television ad-break.  These CTA’s are instructing the prospect “when you’re done exploring these customers, this is where you go next”.

Salesforce Customer Success Story Zoom out

The yellow highlighted text are quotes from the interview, as you can see this story is very quote heavy.

From the long story outline, it’s possible to see there are a series of short blocks each with it’s own sub-headline for skim readers too and each supplementing theme for this story

Conclusion

Salesforce use Customer Success Stories heavily as a resource that customers can explore and gather social proof for new customers.

  • Prospects are encouraged to find similar “tribe” members through filtering of a large number of stories.
  • More emphasis is placed on the user and their face, than the logo in terms of images and text content.
  • Bold CTA’s lead the prospect to the next stage of the customer journey.
  • Each story is used to convey a strong message that is stated in the headline and backed up with sub-headlines.

Learn more about Wizu Stories and how you can to easily capture Customer Success Stories for your business