Throughout our lives, we rely on relationships to help us get where we want to go.
In middle school, it may start with enlisting a friend for help: "Will you ask so-and-so if he/she likes me?" In a job search, we ask friends to introduce us to professional contacts they know at certain organizations.
Business and personal success largely depends on leveraging those relationships, and it’s no different when we ask customers to participate in customer success stories and case studies. The best way to get customers on board for case studies is to tap into those with the closest relationships with the customer. In most cases, that’s a sales or account rep who knows the customer well. Over the years, I’ve seen these contacts have better success than anyone else.
The "Leave-Behind" Doc
As important as it is to identify the contact with the best relationship with a customer, it is also important to give that contact the tools to represent you well.
By providing the sales or account rep with the right information, you can equip them to persuasively approach the customer, just as if they were selling a product or service.
Recently, I created a "leave-behind" document for a client whose process involves engaging sales reps to ask customers about participation. With all the details in a document, the sales rep can email it over and contacts can pass it around to those who need to provide permission, such as C-level executives, or legal and PR contacts.
Here are five parts to include in your "leave-behind" for customers regarding the case study opportunity:
1. What are you asking for?
Start out by clearly describing what you’re asking for, whether that’s a case study, press release, or being available for reference calls. Describe the opportunity, such as…
"Customer case studies are two-page, written documents (or videos) that highlight you as the customer, your relationship, and the benefits you have experienced with the product/service."
You might also provide a link to a page of current case studies so that customers can see examples.
2. What’s involved?
Contacts need to know exactly what’s involved and how much of their time it will take. Check out sample copy:
"We typically interview 1-2 primary contacts at your organization. Contacts would participate in a 30-60 minute phone interview with a writer, scheduled at your convenience. After the interview, you have the chance to review, edit and approve the story."
3. How will it be used?
Customers want to know where this information will end up, so be specific.
"When complete, your case study would be featured on our website, and be used for various sales and PR opportunities."
4. What’s in it for them?
Just like a sales process, always emphasize what’s in it for the customer, and never treat the case study as a favor the customer is doing. Stress that it’s a joint promotional opportunity and emphasize benefits that may resonate with the customer. Those motivators might include public promotion or a story the contact can use to champion his or her efforts internally.
"Because of the success you have seen with [insert solution name], we’re interested in engaging with you on joint promotional activities, including a case study. It’s our goal to collaborate with you to ensure that we’re telling your story and the [vendor name] story, including messages you want to communicate to the market."
5. Questions and next steps
At the bottom of your document, provide contact information so that customer contacts can (1) ask questions or (2) take the steps to get going!
As always, keep the document concise and professional so that customers can quickly grasp what you’re asking.
When you provide a "leave-behind" document, you empower your sales or account rep with valuable information that helps customers understand the benefits of case studies and speeds the decision-making process – and strengthens relationships all around.