Writing a Case Study That Helps Your Sales Team
If you sell a product that's any more involved than a simple commodity, chances are your sales process could be improved if you employed case studies. Put succinctly, a case study is something that shows the practical application for your product: your product working in real life. A case study serves as a example of how your product solves certain problems or addresses specific needs.
To your customers, case studies demonstrate that your product works for companies like theirs. To your sales representatives, case studies represent an opportunity to show the product in action and help their prospects picture their own companies benefiting in the same way the companies in your case studies have benefited. So it's no surprise that case studies are, in fact, one of the most effective tools you can give your sales teams.
But how do you write a case study? While the idea of writing a case study might seem overwhelming, it doesn't have to be. The good news is, if you have a customer, you can write a case study. While for some companies with extremely technical products, a case study can be dozens of pages long and require the knowledge and skills of experts in the field, for most companies something far simpler will do the trick, and be more readable to potential customers. Follow these steps to write your first case study:
Identify a Current or Former Customer
Case studies are based on real-life examples, so you should start by looking at your customer list. For your first case study, you can just find a company for which your product has generated especially good results. If you have a number of good possible subjects, choose the one that is most well-known in your industry or geographic area. Later on, you'll want to write more case studies to appeal to different types of customers, but start with a good general example in the beginning. You don't have to mention the name of the customer in your case study, but if you do choose to mention it be sure you have permission from the customer.
Introduce the Customer
Start your case study by introducing the reader to your customer, the one who benefited from your product. Good information to include is the size of the company, where they are headquartered, and what they do. You can include some interesting or impressive statistics, such as how many people they employ or their annual revenue (again, if this is public information, or you have permission from the company to reveal it). A few sentences is enough. Feel free to peruse your customer's website, especially their About page, for this type of information.
Set Forth the Client's Need and/or Problem
This company came to you seeking to fulfill a need or solve a problem. Clearly identifying that need or problem is one of the most important parts of your case study, because it helps the reader (your potential customer) see how his or her needs and problems are similar. There's no need to exaggerate or pretend that the customer was going out of business without your product, but make sure to demonstrate that there was a clear need to which your company responded.
Explain Your Solution
This is the part where your company sweeps in and saves the day. Don't waste this space talking directly about your product and its features. Instead, focus on how your product benefited the customer by directly addressing the needs and problems you mentioned in the previous section. If you customized your product for this customer, be sure to mention the extent of your customizations. Focus on how your product was a perfect match for the problem at hand.
Provide a Rationale
Explain why it is that your solution was a good one for the particular problem your client was experiencing. Here is also a good place to slip in some more general information about why your business model works so well, but you should still keep that information within the context of your client's situation. In some cases, you can combine the rationale portion of your case study with the previous section; it just depends on how much you have to say, and whether it makes sense in the flow of your case study to separate them or not.
Don't Forget to Display the Results
Take some time at the end of your case study to talk about the results of the client using your product. Include the future outlook for your client, as well as any continuing relationship your company has with them. This section is a nice place to put some convincing facts and figures about increased sales, better ROI, higher customer satisfaction levels, or whatever your product has helped to achieve for your client.
And voila! Your case study is done. Dress it up on some nice letterhead, or whatever your company uses for branding collateral, and you're ready to pass it out to your sales teams. For some great examples of case studies about our happy clients, see our Resources page. Case studies are an important tool you can give your sales representatives, but they are just one part of an overall sales strategy. If you need personalized help with setting up or revitalizing your sales team, please contact Netpique today!