«return to Tip of the Month ListingShould You Ask for Stories in the Initial Sales Contract?

Nearly every organization struggles, at some time, with getting customers to agree to participate in a success story.

There are various tactics to combat this struggle, from discounts to limited distribution arrangements to strategically choosing who asks the customer. However, many companies initiate this opportunity by asking the customer for the possibility of being featured—right in the initial sales contract.

“Introducing the concept early on can increase the likelihood that you will get a success story later by planting the seed. Also, it decreases the risk of the customer declining later because they’ve already gotten what they want in the sales negotiations,” says Victoria Rios, marketing communications manager at ConfigureSoft, Inc.

Rios advocates including related language in every sales contract. From experience, she suggests giving customers an opt-in list of possible PR opportunities, if they are satisfied with the solution.

Here’s how that section of your contract might read (please consult your attorney for actual legal advice!):

Customer agrees to provide the following marketing assistance to ABC Software in exchange for _________________________________ [red content may be removed]. If at any time Customer is dissatisfied, items selected below may be delayed and resumed only when satisfaction is reasonably addressed.

  • Provide Reference calls, as reasonable, for software to future ABC Software clients.
  • Approve a Press Release about licensed software order.
  • Approve a Press Release about customer’s successful implementation of the software.
  • Participate in and approve a Success Story detailing business benefits the Customer has derived from using the product.
  • Provide a Reference and agree to a future conversation with a trade publication for an article about use of the software or related topic, with advance notice provided.
  • Participate as either an ABC Softwaresponsored individual Speaker at conference(s), or a joint Speaker with ABC Software.

All content developed by ABC Software is subject to Customer’s final approval.

Including clear language about what each opportunity entails helps customers understand what they are agreeing to.

Whether you offer something in exchange is up to you. However, many companies find this tactic particularly valuable with bigger-name companies. Taking less upfront in return for the chance to leverage a big-name customer’s positive experience can be more than worthwhile.

Rios stresses that PR details shouldn’t make or break the sales deal. The relationship takes priority over contract details. However, she points out that including PR options in the contract can enhance the relationship and give both sides leverage.

“It goes toward facilitating a partnership, rather than just a vendor-customer relationship,” she adds.

What’s your experience with success story language in the sales contract? Compelling Cases would love to share your experience with other readers. Write casey@compelling-cases.com.