Case studies have long been a marketing tool used by consulting firms to demonstrate value. However, any company that sells products or services can leverage case studies to drive sales with new clients and increase sales from existing clients.
Regardless, they are a powerful tool in the sales process and companies from all industries should use them to drive business. There are several key reasons case studies can help your company drive sales and should be part of your sales arsenal. Before discussing these key attributes, let’s review the proper format.
Navigating Case Study Format
This section describes a client’s pain point (s) that your company’s products/services helped overcome. Demonstrating an understanding of specific pain points will resonate far more with prospects than simply saying, “We understand your issue with ‘X’”.
Think about it this way: would you rather see a doctor that has an understanding and experience treating your specific medical ailment or one that doesn’t?
Once a company has hired your firm, or purchased one of its products or services, the real work begins. From start to finish, whether for a quick one-day installation of carpet or a multi-year implementation of a data, trading and reporting system for a financial services firm, establishing a good working relationship with your client’s staff is a critical success factor.
A compelling case study will show your prospect several things: an ability to work with people and teams, analyze problems and craft realistic solutions. The Diagnosis/Solution section demonstrates your company’s ability to help prospects navigate through change of varying complexity. Given the detail necessary to provide a sufficient description of your company’s involvement, this component of a case study should be the longest.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Companies buy products and services or hire other firms to produce tangible results. For some, the goal is improving operating efficiency; for others, driving top-line growth is the desired outcome. Either way, if your firm has helped clients achieve their objectives, then this is where you describe those results.
The Results/Impact section should include a brief summary of the background and teamwork components, and conclude with the tangible results your company delivered. Numbers speak more loudly than words, so quantify results wherever possible.
- Did your client’s sales increase? If so, by what percentage?
- Were you able to help them reduce errors, or improve productivity?
These are tangible results and, quite often, clients will be happy to share this information – if you ask. With this in hand, you can draft a robust and compelling Results/Impact section that illustrates your company’s value proposition.
Having covered the format of a case study, let’s look at why case studies are such a powerful weapon in a company’s sales arsenal.
How Case Studies Can Accelerate Sales
1. Proof of Concept
‘Been there, done that.’
This is strongest value that a case study provides to your prospect. It shows your firm’s ability to solve pain points that your prospect is currently experiencing. When you can articulate that you have already solved the same problem they face, that experience is worth its weight in gold.
2. Focuses on Benefits, Not Features
Too often, the sales process bogs down when trying to communicate value, in the form of features (“With us, you get ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’). For a prospect that is struggling with an issue, hearing about the benefits they’ll gain (“Here’s how we’ve helped others and can help you, too) is far more important. Illustrating benefits helps a prospect understand how your product/service can address their pain point. A list of features only describes characteristics of a product/service, which is relatively meaningless to the prospect.
3. Highlights Competencies
Before buying a product or service, companies want to know that your firm has the expertise to support them. Not only can you present a viable solution to their pain, but you also have the expertise to implement the recommended solution. And post implementation, it shows that you have the knowledge and wherewithal to help the client deal with the issues that will inevitably arise.
4. Illustrates Client Relationship Skills
It’s been said that, all things considered, people buy from people they like. Case studies can demonstrate your company’s likability in that they describe how well your company and its people work with others. Perhaps you had to bridge the gap between two internal stakeholder groups, or help teams understand the value they’ll gain from releasing a death-grip on outdated legacy processes. Either way, it shows your ability to empathize and respect others, while moving the project forward.
5. Shows Ability to Produce Results
When you can deliver results for clients, they will continue to buy your products and services. Case studies show that you have real-life experience producing meaningful results, and gives client and prospects with a strong reason to buy your products or services.
Who benefits from using case studies to drive sales?
In short, any company.
For example, financial services firms use case studies to articulate the ways in which they produce value, whether through investment performance or improving efficiency of operations teams. Case studies help IT companies illustrate the value they’ve produced for clients by enhancing security, stability and organization of technology architecture. Recruiting firms use case studies to describe how they’ve delivered value for clients by leading hard-to-find placements or time-consuming searches.
Case studies improve your company’s credibility, brand awareness and sales growth. They can also build and reinforce relationships and trust with clients and prospects. If you’re not using case studies to shift sales into high gear, what’s holding you back?