Why you shouldn’t let your sales team write your case studies

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I want to tell you a story about writing case studies.

A client of mine wanted to create some fresh material. The current articles were terribly outdated. And so, they decided to gather feedback from a customer. After all, it was their customer and they just needed their salesperson to ask for a few more details, surely?

Their salesperson knew a lot about this customer anyway. It seemed a simple task. Just asking a few extra questions at the end of the next meeting would be good use of time.

Or so they thought.

The salesperson met the customer as usual and had their regular catch-up over a coffee. Once that was wrapped up, they finally focused on getting more detail for the case study. A few hastily compiled questions were scribbled in their notebook:

Why do you like our product?
Why do you remain loyal to us?
Would you recommend us?

Five minutes later, the salesperson had half a page of scant notes. Job done, they thought. Nothing they didn’t know already. And what they expected their customer to tell them.

Would you make the right choice?

Back in the office, the team was disappointed with what the salesperson pulled together. Granted, it ticked the box, but it wasn’t enough to create the compelling profile they’d wanted. They had two options:

1. Write up an extremely brief reference from the customer (I can hardly call it a case study)
2. Contact me

Thankfully, they choose option 2.

Diplomatically taking the baton, I asked if the customer would be happy to take a call from me. The answer was yes. So, having understood the backstory and carried out some initial research around the customer’s business, I arranged a call at a convenient time.

Because I’m looking from the outside in, my blinkers are off. No preconceived ideas. I understand how someone might see the business (and product) for the first time. Plus, the customer didn’t feel he had to tell me what I wanted to hear.

Instead, he told me his story.

You see, to get that compelling narrative from your customer, you need several things:

1. Time to focus on it properly
2. Your salesperson NOT involved!
3. The right questions to ask
4. The right person to ask them

There’s an art to customer stories (the more effective answer to case studies). Granted, they’re a sales tool in many senses, but that doesn’t mean your salespeople should, or can, create them. And your in-house team? They can be too close to the subject matter and miss important content due to preconceptions.

How to create a compelling customer story

Following my call with the customer, I planned and created a 1,200-word story. From the customer’s perspective, it shone a light on his frustrations prior to purchasing my client’s product.

In the customer’s words.

The story then went on to explain how he singled out my client and their product. And how this product was now solving his frustrations. It even touched on some additional benefits that neither customer nor client had realised prior to my contact.

The story was compelling. It was real. And most importantly, it was relevant and interesting to my client’s target audience – in language they understood. Some would have experienced the exact same problem. Reading this story could accelerate their decision on how to resolve it.

Created in this way, customer stories are incredibly powerful.

Often used by B2B companies, customer stories can be as influential as TripAdvisor and Amazon reviews are for consumer products. We all like to read what other people think, and we all love a good story. Put the two together and your entire sales team have a valuable tool they’ll rely on to shorten the sales funnel.

So, next time you think you need a few case studies, decide whether you’re just ticking the box or wanting to get the most out of them. The customer story way. When you're ready, I'd love to help.

Contact me and I’ll show you some samples.