Case Studies Are Your Best Selling Tool: Here’s How To Create One

There’s an old saying that still rings true in sales: Facts tell, stories sell. Storytelling during the sales engagement process is extremely effective; it can help initiate a business conversation, vividly illustrate a point, create interest or engage an audience. So why are up to 80 percent* of case studies and/or success stories created by marketing departments not used by sales teams? 

It seems as though marketing departments have owned the creation of success stories since forever. Believing that content and form matters, marketing professionals may prioritize the delivery of full-color, glossy, beautifully presented success stories and case studies in attractive mailers or leave-behinds. I’ve noticed that in some situations, unfortunately, form seems to be all that matters. 

However, sales people and— more importantly— prospects, care about content more than anything. How is the case study or success story relevant and applicable to the prospect’s situation? Four, six or eight page stories are (or can be) sufficient as leave-behind pieces or for website use, but they do not relate directly to the prospect. Therefore they aren’t effective selling tools. 

So how can this situation be changed?  How can marketing departments deliver stories that sales people and prospects or clients are truly interested in?

Here is a simple, easy to follow, and highly effective way to chart success stories that marketing and sales can use. If the marketing department doesn’t buy in, then the sales team can (and should) complete this table on their own—this tool is too valuable to disregard.

 Defining a Success Story:

KEY PLAYER

Job title and industry (anonymous customer)

GOAL OR ISSUE

The goal your customer had (Success stories for existing offerings are told in the past tense.)

CONTRIBUTING REASONS

A contributing factor(s) preventing achievement of the goal (addressed by your offering)

CAPABILITY

The capability(ies) that allowed your customer to negate the contributing reason mentioned above

BENEFIT STATEMENT

By stating you or your company provided this capability, solution ownership remains with the buyer

ACTUAL RESULTS

Give measurement (#, $ or %) of the improvement that was realized.

 

Success Story Example

KEY PLAYER

VP sales of a software company

GOAL OR ISSUE

She wanted to improve forecasting accuracy.

CONTRIBUTING REASONS

Forecasting was difficult because qualifications varied by salesperson, and there was no standard way of assessing progress in an opportunity. Salespeople updated forecasts while pressed for time at the end of the month.

CAPABILITY

She said she needed a way to define milestones for the whole company, so that after making calls the salespeople could sign onto a website and be prompted to update the status of opportunities against a standard grading system.

BENEFIT STATEMENT

Our company provided her with this capability.

ACTUAL RESULTS

Over the last 6 months, forecasting accuracy has improved by 35%. During this period salespeople have reduced time spent at the end of the month creating a forecast.

 

The next question, of course, is where and how to use the success story during the selling engagement process. Here is a quick list of possibilities:

  • In a prospecting letter, email, or voicemail
  • During competitive trap creation
  • As a conversation icebreaker
  • During relevancy establishment
  • In negotiation
  • In many other areas

 

If you want to learn more about effective use of this success story tool and others we bring to life, please email or call me at plavie@keyroad.com or 773-687-0557. 

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