The need for high-quality case studies has never been greater than it is right now. Salespeople everywhere are encountering more and more competition to earn business and attention from their prospects and even from their current clients.
More and more every day, the businesses they are calling on are evaluating the salesperson’s products and services, and even making buying decisions, based on information they find online as well as what they can learn from others, whether friends or reviews and comments post online by strangers.
If that’s where the action now takes place—instead of in a face-to-face meeting with a salesperson—then that’s where every company needs to compete. If prospects want to know how others are using your product or service, and what their experience has been, and the ROI they’ve derived, then the company needs to offer what those prospects are looking for, where they’re looking for it.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But when we talk to salespeople, they report that their company doesn’t have many of these case studies available in any form—not printed, not posted—or the ones they have are old and no longer relevant.
Managers know this is a problem. As much as they want these case studies and success stories, they either don’t have the time to get it done or they can’t seem to dig up the best information to build the story.
Never fear! I assure you that, if you are delighting your customers, then you have the ability to generate effective, powerful case studies and success stories.
The 5-Step Process for Generating Great Case Studies
Follow the steps below to get great case studies every time:
1. Plan to use the most effective case-study or success-story format ever devised.
Every story has four elements—whether it’s four sentences in a really short story, or four paragraphs in a one-page presentation, or four sections in a lengthy case study. The four elements are Problem, Process, Plan, and Performance. You can see why, around our office, we just call this format the 4Ps. Using the 4P format ensures you’ll tell a strong story that addresses the interests and questions most prospects will have. Download an explanation of the 4P format and an example here.
2. Send an email to your best clients.
In the email, ask them if they would be interested in being featured on your blog or your website as a company that is enjoying solid success and delivering superior value to its customers—partially as a result of the product or service that your company is providing them.
3. Thank every client that responds in any way.
For those clients who respond enthusiastically that they would like to participate, congratulate them on their success and ask them to complete a very brief questionnaire about the success they are having and how your products or services are playing a role. Build your questionnaire form in such a way as to isolate and evoke information about Problem, Process, Plan, and Performance.
4. Select the few that you think are the best candidates and set a time for a phone interview.
Prepare questions in advance and feel free to send them to the client ahead of the call so they can have some time to think about their answers. Build your interview around your need to get vital information in each of the 4P areas. You’ll come away from that conversation with all the information you need to build that story or case study.
5. Once you have a draft of your story, share it with your client.
You’re seeking not only their consent to publish it in this form, but their suggestions for how to improve it. Once it’s in final form, publish it on your blog (every story will produce at least one new blog post) or website, and make a PDF downloadable!
This 5-step process works every time, and it gets easier every time you do it. Soon you’ll have a substantial library of case studies as well as a system for generating new ones that will help ensure that you don’t rely on stale stories.
Your prospects will instantly understand the 4P method of presentation and appreciate the clarity it brings to the information they’re seeking. You’ll be respected for offering so many recent case studies, and that respect will drive new business.