Using Case Studies to Sell Your Product or Service
Ever hear of a guy named Sargon of Akkad? Don’t feel bad, I never did either, but apparently, he was a cup-bearer back in his day. The reason the name probably didn’t come to you is because he lived back in 23rd Century BC.
Being a cup-bearer was a pretty high ranking job, and remained so throughout history, but it did not have much a retirement plan. You see, it was the job of the cup-bearer to bring the king his wine, but it was also his job to take a sip before the king did in case the wine was poisoned. As you can imagine, it was probably a pretty stressful job, but it was crucial. The point I want you to understand today is how important this job truly was in a day when competition was brutal. If the king had no cup-bearer, then he had to test the wine himself which could leave an immediate opening for a new king!
The cup-bearer’s confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup-bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Today, we have a similar position within the market-place; those that do R&D alongside those that create case studies.
Without someone “tasting the wine”, we have no ability to sell that wine, describe it or share the wines attributes with a potential client.
The proper (or creative) use of case studies can make or break your annual sales and position in the marketplace.
First, keep in mind that a case study can be extremely formal and cost thousands to create. It can be hundreds of pages accompanied by hundreds of photos and perhaps even video. I remember after Katrina reading case studies that were hundreds of pages. A case study can also be as simple as an interview with a past client that shares a story about they used your product while showing you a single photo on their phone. Either way, research was done and resulted in information you can turn into wisdom, answers and revenue if you use it properly.
A case study, by definition, is a RECORD of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a person, a group, a product or a situation over a period of time.
To pick a hot topic, let’s assume you sell drones.
If I tell you that drones would be great for tracking alligator populations, it is a pretty good idea, but has no authority, no proof, and no record of it actually working poorly or well. It is an opinion, and to be honest... worthless because I know nothing about alligators.
After you kicked me out of your office for bringing you nothing you can use, let’s imagine that the door opens again and in enters a guy in outback gear with a drone strapped to his back and a necklace of gator teeth hanging from his sunburned neck. He begins to explain to you that researchers around the globe quantify animal populations, model migration patterns, and calculate birth and death rates every day in the field. He further explains that this is a grueling and expensive process usually done by boat or small plane and is extremely dangerous.
You sit mesmerized as your visitor tells you that light aircraft crashes were the number one cause of death for wildlife workers between 1937 and 2000; a total of 91 deaths! As your mind begins to imagine the possibilities, your newfound friend gives you the most valuable thing your company could have ever been given: all of his records from the last three years of using drones to track wildlife complete with pictures, video, weather info, costs and of course...no deaths.
Starting to see the value of a case study? Would you re-target a market after this meeting? Where would start spending your travel budget as a sales person?
You use case studies all the time without knowing it. When you head to a conference, you use Yelp or call a friend in the area don’t you? Trip Advisor is actually a form of case study too! If you want to know what is good and what works and what fits you best, YOU ASK SOMEONE that has used it, tried it, practiced, eaten it, slept in it or has depended on it!
As someone that is constantly trying to reach their clientele with a solution, case studies of your product could be your salvation because they establish proof that what you are offering is valuable and of good quality.
In America’s marketplace, pizazz, smoke and mirrors sell a lot of product, and if that’s the sales person you want to be, you won’t enjoy a lot of this blog, but if you are serious about meeting your clients needs, case studies are the way to go.
According to Content Marketing Institute, U.K. marketers use, 12 different marketing tactics on average, with case studies being the fifth most popular after social media content, e-newsletters, blogs, and website articles. What’s funny about that statistic is that the case study almost always ends up in their social media content, e-newsletters, blogs and websites!
So, your manufacturer invested in a case study of your solution. Now what?
First, get it online. The whole thing if possible. Make sure that the study includes the original goals, the challenges, the results and the whole story as to how it all came together.
Second, send the case study or the links to where they are on your site to all your clientele. Then send it to all of your potential clientele; those folks you have been reaching out to but have not made a purchase. You might want to include the last several folks that said “no” too, especially if their reasons for not buying could be managed by the new case study.
Third, study the case study until you can almost recite the process, the challenges and the results as if you did the study yourself.
Fourth, select 3 to 6 images and one video clip that struck you as being the ones you wish your customers and future customers would pay attention to. Place those pieces in your phone and on your tablet and laptop.
Now, the next time you are on the phone or on location, you should be able to take a large case study and turn it into an “elevator speech” lasting no more than 3 minutes and ends with “Let me show you, I have a picture of this on my phone”.
Custom and branded content has become increasingly important to sales reps as they look to provide value on the sales call. Recent research shows that consumers go through 70-90% of the buyer's journey before contacting a vendor. This means that the consumer is more knowledgeable than ever before.
Sales people no longer need to spend an entire call talking about the features and benefits. Sales has become more complex, and reps now need to be armed with content that addresses each stage of the buyer’s process. Case studies can be powerful when it comes to showing a potential buyer how successful someone else has been, especially within a similar industry. It is difficult to lose a sale when you show how someone else experienced great benefit from your product to the point that a case study was created!