story

By Steve Woodruff, {grow} Community Member

How many times have you walked away from a sales presentation muttering “I still don’t have a clue what they do … or why I should care.”

The biggest culprit is usually a sales pitch too dense with words, graphs and images to make any sense. That’s why the most powerful explanation can be a story – particularly, a case study.

I was with a client a few months back and we were having a very difficult time defining their key client offering and message. They did so many different things for their clients that narrowing it down to something simple and memorable was a thorny challenge.

As they described the work they’d accomplished over the years, a key theme began to emerge – the fact that competitors may supply this or that, but this company actually provided the outsource capacity to get large projects accomplished. They were all about implementation. So we used a case study about a successful implementation to highlight what they do,

To stand in front of a potential client and say, “We do this list of 15 things” is to invite confusion, even if it’s true. But if you say, “Let us tell you the story about how we took on a similar big initiative for one of other clients …” now, I’m all ears.

I think the case study is an under-used sales technique in many situations. Instead of receiving a resume with a blizzard of buzzwords, wouldn’t you prefer to hear a story of what a person can do?

Instead of being overwhelmed by product reviews, wouldn’t it be more effective to hear a story about what sets a product apart?

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get case studies in search results instead of just product descriptions?

So how do we make the most effective use of our case studies? I believe there are five key things to remember:

  1. Be sure the story is precisely tailored to the audience you’re trying to reach. If your prospect wants to know how your platform is going to help them launch a small startup, don’t go blathering on about how IBM is using it to cover all of Asia.
  2. Talk about the deepest client need, and how your solution can ease their pain. Connecting on a pain point will immerse  listeners in your story.
  3. Be sure to emphasize specifically how your company uniquely addresses those pain points. You want the case study to reinforce your sweet spots.
  4. Results. Always highlight results.
  5. If possible, include an actual customer quote or testimonial.

It’s always a challenge to present engagingly in a short window of time. So if you’ve got case studies – use them!

What other tips would you add to my list? How are you using case studies in the marketplace?

steve woodruffSteve Woodruff is the world’s only Clarity Therapist, and a builder of business opportunity networks. Interact with Steve on Twitter (@swoodruff) and get your regular dose of clarity at SteveWoodruff.com.

Illustration courtesy of Flickr CC and Paul Downey.

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