This month’s tip was inspired by subscriber Jane Nunnikhoven of Blast Radius. Jane asked, “With so many competing priorities, particularly the ever-present sales target, how do you get the case study to the top of the sales rep’s to-do list?”
Jane’s question perfectly sums up what has become an ongoing challenge for many marketing and PR folks. Your reps know they need case studies, but simply get too wrapped up in day-to-day sales efforts to pass on leads and secure customer permission.
While it might be tough to get your case study requests to the very top of reps’ lists, Compelling Cases has seen several strategies that help ease the process:
- Enticing incentives – Many companies offer incentives for leads that ultimately end up as completed customer success stories. Incentives range from gift certificates to significant cash bonuses—and help keep a steady stream of leads coming. Sales reps in particular respond best to clear incentives.
- Education – Reps need to see what’s in it for them. Those who actively and successfully use customer success stories are more likely to submit leads and secure customer permission. Make sure you educate reps about the stories you have available, and how and where they can access those stories—so they use and get value out of them.
- Well-timed lead drives – If you continuously ask reps for leads and customer buy-in, it can become easier for them to ignore requests. Choose a few key times throughout the year—perhaps during slightly slower times in the sales cycle—to make a big push asking for leads. Don’t forget the annual sales meeting. There, ask every rep to submit their best one or two leads, and a few key details about them. After that, choose the strongest ones and follow up with just those reps, asking them to obtain customer buy-in (per last month’s tip, this relationship can help secure permission).
- A quick, easy process – Reps need to know exactly how and where to submit their case study leads. Create a one-page form with a few key questions for reps to fill in about the customer. Post it on your intranet for quick submission and regularly remind reps about it.
- Putting the call out to customers – Announce in your customer e-newsletter or in other customer communications that you are looking for customer success stories. Don’t forget to mention the promotional value customers get out of being featured—on your Web site, in external communications, in the trade press, etc. Customers will come forward directly, allowing you to engage the sales rep or account manager only once you have pre-qualified the customer as a good story.
What works for you? Please let us know your best practices (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll share more tips in the next issue.