In an age of increasing similarities between product offerings and similar sales pitches, one of the strongest tools to leverage is the case study. It provides a proof text of how you and your company solve problems for your clients and what specific value you bring to the table.
While a list of customer references can be good, case studies provide instant validation of how you helped at a similar company. It simplifies things for buyers because they can review the case study and may not have to take time out of their day to call your references. Simply put, a case study provides added-value to your presentation and separates you from the host of competitors who resist doing case studies.
What Makes Up a Case Study
The case study is made up of three parts:
- Challenges — In this first part, we want to know what challenges the client was facing that needed to be addressed. What did they know and/or learn that needed to be resolved?
- Solution — What solution did your company provide to the client and how did it resolve their problem(s)?
- Outcomes — As a result of implementing the solution you provided, what has been the outcome for this client? What have they experienced as a result? Was there an achieved, recognizable ROI? What value did you, the sales professional, bring to the table that made a difference?
In a 15- to 30-minute face-to-face conversation, you can get your client discussing each of these three points. Use your iPhone or Smartphone to digitally record the conversation so you can glean as much information as possible. Once the interview is over, you have the basic outline to create a powerful case study.
So…Why Do Most Reps Avoid the Case Study?
They are afraid of what they’re going to hear. I know, “Ouch!” But in too many cases, this is exactly why. Too many reps have failed to keep in touch with their client to ensure the benefits hoped for actually were experienced. They aren’t ensuring that the promises they made were actually delivered.
And, in many cases, the reps simply did, in fact, sell a commodity and really didn’t solve any real problem. What’s a client to say about that? “Yeah, you saved me $30 a month and then you disappeared. Thanks!” That’s the conversation the rep is wanting to avoid.
So What’s the Solution?
First, start focusing on solving actual problems. Listen to your clients and your prospects as they discuss their business and look for ways to truly solve their real world problems. don’t simply throw a cheaper price out there; anyone can do that. In fact, that’s what the internet is for. Instead, solve real problems that create legitimate ROI for your ciients.
Next, build and maintain a real relationship. You’re in a business relationship – a partnership, if you will — with your clients now. Getting ink on the deal is not when you cut and run. This is when the proverbial rubber meets the road you and really begin to earn your keep. Ensure the promises you made actually come true. Make sure the client begins to experience the real solution to their problem. Communicate. Be there. Be authentic and real for your client.
Lastly, document your client’s results. Creating a case study provides a lasting testimonial that documents the challenges your client faced, how you solved them and the real results they experienced. It tells a real life story that can provide proof for potential clients to help justify choosing you over anyone else.
If you really want to separate yourself from your competition and rise above, you must start to do what your competition is afraid of and refuses to do. Provide real solutions, follow through and maintain the relationship, and then document your results through a case study.
Trust me. It works!