Sales and marketing are fast-moving functions of any business. The faster the case study is completed, the appointment made, or the press release out, the quicker you just might make a sale.
Enter the customer. Your customer has objectives and deliverables all its own.
Your case study, while it might be important to the customer, is likely not the top item on the customer’s list.
At times, that makes for long waits…
…in obtaining permission to feature the customer
…in getting the interview on the schedule
…in securing the customer’s approval
How do you cope?
Enter the 2 must-haves of the customer-story waiting game:
This week, a customer canceled his phone interview for a case study for the third time. Each time it was scheduled and he canceled shortly before or just didn’t show up.
Now, it’s scheduled for the fourth time. Crossing my fingers…
It’s hard to be patient, but essential. Never let the customer see your frustration, or they could decide to bail on the whole project.
In this case, my client is driving the rescheduling because they also need the story for PR purposes.
However, in most cases, after two cancellations, I might ask if the customer truly has time for this project right now. If not, how about in a week or two, or when?
By asking about their availability, you open the door for them to tell you that now is just too busy and get realistic – so they don’t keep missing appointments.
Whether you’re trying to get an interview or secure approval, being persistent – in a nice way – is the only way.
That means contacting customers regularly and leaving friendly messages regarding your request.
Take those opportunities to remind the customer what’s in it for them to participate in the story – the value to them of the joint promotional opportunity.
Sometimes you might even ask, "how can I help make this easier for you?"
Beyond patience and persistence, it’s always important to set expectations with customers as the project kicks off. But even that doesn’t guarantee a smooth ride.
What strategies do you have for dealing with the inevitable delays in case studies projects?
Or, if you’ve ever been on the customer side of a case study project, any tips to offer to vendors and writers trying to capture your story?
SoftwareCEO.com is the richest source I know of for advice for growing software companies. This week, Gordon Graham's Tips and Tactics feature includes an excerpt from my book, "Stories That Sell."
Even if you don't work in or write for software companies, you'll likely find value in "Seven ways to get customers to agree to a story."
You'll pick up tips on how to improve the chances that customers will say yes, and even alternatives if your customer just won't agree.
But check it out quickly. The article goes into the site's Members Only area after 2 weeks (March 17).