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. Current articles were terribly outdated. And so, they decided to gather their own content from the first customer. After all, it was their customer and they just needed their salesman to ask for a few more details, surely?

Of course, their salesmen 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 salesman met the customer as usual and had his regular catch up over a coffee. Once that was wrapped up, he finally focused on getting more detail for the case study. A few hastily compiled questions were scribbled in his notebook:

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

Five minutes later, the salesman had just half a page of scant notes. Job done, he thought. Nothing he didn’t know already. And what he expected his customer to tell him.

Would you make the right choice?

Back in the office, the team was rather disappointed with what he’d 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 back story from my client and done 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, and an understanding of how someone might see the business (and product) for the first time. Plus, the customer didn’t feel he simply had to tell me what I wanted to hear.

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 salesman NOT involved!
3. The right questions to ask
4. The right person to ask them

There’s an art to case studies (or customer stories, as I often to call them). 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 their preconceptions.

How to create a compelling customer story

Following my call with the customer, I planned and created a 1,000-word story. From the customer’s perspective, it shone light on his frustrations prior to purchasing my client’s product.

In the customer’s words.

The story then developed 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, case studies are incredibly powerful.

Often used by B2B companies, case studies 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 need a few case studies, decide whether you’re just ticking the box or wanting to get the most out of them. If it’s the latter, I’d love to help you.

Contact me and I’ll show you some samples.

Here’s another post that might help you: How do you write a case study?