Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and Sales – Part 5: The Case of the Elusive Case Study

Tanya CandiaTips of the Trade

The final blog post in our series on bridging the gap between marketing and sales gives advice on how to tackle case studies and ensure you can drive them to final sign-off.

A common disconnect between sales and marketing is the scarcity of good customer case studies. Sales is hungry for them, because there’s nothing better to convince a prospective customer than a solid testimonial from a satisfied client. Yet marketing teams find it tedious, lengthy and frustrating to write and get approval for publishable case studies.

When it comes to cyber security companies, we’ve heard for years that it’s impossible to get customers to participate: if they do so, they will become targets for hackers who will know what security solutions they are using. That notion is passé. All companies are already targets, and hackers have lots of way of finding out what security solutions a given company is using. Today security companies join most other vendors in showcasing their customer stories on their websites. If they can do it, so can you. Here are some tips:

  • Enlist all areas of your organization in encouraging customers to come forward. Make sure Legal, Sales and Operations are on board.
  • Put together a continuum of possibilities, from those that are relatively nonthreatening to most engaged, like the following:
    • Anonymous quote referencing the industry
    • Approve quote for vendor press release
    • Participate in vendor-customer joint press release
    • Allow customer logo and boilerplate to appear on vendor’s website
    • Publicly serve as a reference for prospects
    • Approve a short case study (2-3 paragraphs) for the website and presentations
    • Approve a full case study
    • Agree to speak to the press or industry analysts
    • Provide an audio or video clip based on case study
    • Agree to be a featured speaker in a webinar or seminar
    • Speak about the solution at a trade show or industry event
  • Start as high as you can in the customer organization. If you can get a C-level executive, or senior vice president to see the value, you can avoid wasted work that might not ever receive final approval.
  • Provide incentives (e.g. a sliding scale of discounts) based on the level of customer participation in the continuum. Don’t forget to include this in the contract.
  • Be sure to point out, where appropriate, what’s in it for the actual spokesperson. Being quoted as an expert not only enhances their company’s brand but their own as well, which can help with job retention and career advancement.

The hard work is worth it: by showing the results of your company’s solutions in the words of your customers, you help sales people connect in a meaningful way with current and prospective customers.

About the Author

Tanya Candia is the author of several engineering and marketing books, including the five-book series “Starting Your Startup” published by IEEE. She has held senior executive positions in technology companies, and works with organizations around to world to develop and implement winning strategies.

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