Talk to your customers.
Like so many challenges, the solution boils down to something simple. Of course, there are many moving parts to outstanding execution of this simple task. I’ll share best practices in this post.
Get Leads for Case Studies
Reach out to as many people as possible, ideally everyone. Sure, not every customer will respond, but there’s no reason not to consider every new deal a suspect. Use email templates in your salesforce automation system to automate as much as possible.
Move Customers Through the Case Study Pipeline
Reach out to customers when a deal first closes. That’s the best time to gather feedback on “The Challenge,” the original business problem they needed to solve, and why they chose you over your competitors, among other things. Then ask about their timeline for deployment or implementation, and if you can follow up a few months after that to ask how it went. I’ve never yet had anyone reply, “No, don’t email me again.”
Ask for Feedback, Not Endorsements
View testimonials as a longer-term investment. They are the dividends paid out by your investment of time in gathering customer feedback. As such, your email templates should ask for feedback, not endorsements.
Once on the phone with customers, ask numerous open-ended questions, follow up, show interest, and take detailed notes. If, at the end of your discussion, the customer has expressed a degree of satisfaction, then ask for the endorsement.
Close the Deal
I’m using sales language deliberately. The process has many parallels with the sales cycle. You need to call the customers and diligently follow up. You need to uncover pain points they suffered through prior to purchasing your product or service. You also need to uncover, and ideally quantify, the successes they’ve enjoyed as a result of their new purchase.
Those customers who you didn’t connect with when the deal first closed shouldn’t be eliminated from your pipeline. Find out the average time to deploy, and follow up accordingly. Again, set up templates in your SFA. Although tailor the email when following up with those you spoke with previously. Something simple like, “Thanks for your time on the phone back in July. I appreciate the opportunity to learn about your use case and reasons for choosing Acme Widgets. I’d love to talk again and hear about your experience creating automated traps for Bugs Bunny.*”
*Assuming that isn’t what everyone does with Acme Widgets. Find some way to reference their specific project or challenge to make it clear you were paying attention.
Don’t Rule out Those Who Can’t Publicly Endorse
Many companies have policies against endorsing vendors. Often with security products, customers aren’t exactly eager to broadcast to the world what their cybersecurity systems entail. This doesn’t preclude you from telling the story of their success. Give them a fake name, and clarify it’s a fake name. Or refer to them as “A Fortune 500 Manufacturer,” and “The customer” moving forward.
Get a real quote. Use a real job title. Make up a fake name, or use only the title. Anonymize.
Often these happy customers will act as references and speak with prospects in your pipeline. These endorsements still bring value, so leverage them in whatever ways you can.
Do you have case studies in your mind you need to get written? Is someone talking to new customers when deals close, and post-deployment to uncover successes to celebrate? Contact me and I can help with both outreach and content creation, as well as helping your organization establish their own customer endorsement machine.