«Return to Blog List Dropping Customer Anecdotes in Sales

I’m working with a client on creating a customer success story on one of its customers—a large, well-known resort. They need the story ASAP for a sales initiative, but the main contact to approve the story is on vacation for the next week. And when he signs off, the PR dept. still has to see it too…

The dilemma: what can they leverage of the customer’s story now?

Verbal, anecdotal details that don’t mention the customer by name are the perfect compromise.

I recall this is one of the key tips from Jill Konrath’s book, Selling to Big Companies. In voice mail or live conversations, she suggests referencing other successful customers to pique curiosity with prospects:

“In working with another firm like yours, we reduced space requirements by 10 percent, saving them over $500,000 on lease payments and reducing capital equipment expenditures by over $300,000.” (p. 123)

While written case studies that name customers provide great validation and credibility, when you don’t have that final story approved, try talking about results anecdotally to get the attention of prospects.

2 Responses to Dropping Customer Anecdotes in Sales

  1. Based on this entry and an earlier one (When you need customer approval yesterday…) it seems that starting a case study with enough lead time is a consistent problem. I’ve worked on projects where “editing by committee” is the norm before. That is time consuming enough, never mind when two or more companies get in on it.
    So how long (on average) does it take to create a case study that needs approval from secondary companies? I know that this won’t help with new clients, but it would be good to know how much time to plan for when consulting with current clients.
    Also, how do you approach the whole editing-by-committee thing? I would think that you finish it to the point where your client is happy with it, and then forward this “finalized” text to the secondary company for approval. Is this right?
    P.S. Great blog! I’ll be signing up once I’m on my “main” computer!

  2. Hey Graham,
    Thanks for your comments! You hit the nail on the head. Start with as much lead time as you can, especially when your client needs the case study for a trade show or other initiative.
    There are more unknowns in case studies than in other projects. First, it can take a while to get the interview with the featured customer. Then there’s the unknown of your client’s review time. And finally the biggest unknown: the featured customer’s review. So, there are pretty much always two companies reviewing a case study.
    I recommend to my own clients not to have more than 2 parties reviewing at their organization. And encourage them to do it quickly so we get it back to the customer while they’re still happy! But you’re right…get it to a point where your client is happy with it before moving on to the next approval.
    It’s hard to push the featured customer too much. On average, there are two people reviewing at the featured customer company, but occasionally more (main contact, contact’s VP or dept head, legal and PR). Right now, I’ve had a case study stuck with the CEO of a featured customer company for a long time. It’s hard to push the CEO at my client’s customer’s company! All you can do is check back often.
    On average, a customer story probably takes about 6 weeks, start to finish. But it can be much shorter ( a couple of days!) and even much longer (a year).
    I hope that helps!