Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Case in Point

OK, I admit I tend to bang on about not starting your presentation by telling people how great your company is.  But reading back I realise I’ve highlighted the problems and not spent a whole lot of time on solutions.  Dale Carnegie would turn in his grave.

So, with a respectful nod to Mr C, here’s a suggestion.

Your case studies are a goldmine of credentials.  Here’s a chance to brag about what you do best, and the results you deliver, but stay relevant and interesting.

As long as they’re relevant and interesting.

Anyone who neglects their case studies is missing a huge presentation opportunity.  What could be more convincing than proof that what you’re offering really works?  So spend some time on them; make them sell, not just report.  Tell a coherent story, and be consistent in your format.  For each study:
·         Create a headline – a short, concise statement of the result you delivered. (Not just what you sold them)
·         Briefly outline the customer’s position and requirement
·         Show how your proposition answered this need
·         Where relevant, mention implementation time
·         Explain any problems that were encountered, and how they were resolved
·         Highlight the beneficial results, including (or even especially) side benefits outside the original requirement.

You’ll notice that I included problems in the list; clearly I’ve lost whatever grip I once had on reality.

Except that it works.

I’ve always maintained that inaction is your biggest competitor.  It’s almost always easier and safer to do nothing than to take on the risks associated with making a major purchase.  By explaining problems you’ve jumped a number of hurdles:
·         You’ve demonstrated your experience and resourcefulness
·         You’ve proved that you can deliver, even in the face of setbacks
·         You’ve reassured them that they won’t be left personally exposed and endangered if something goes wrong
·         You’ve shown integrity and honesty, bringing greater credibility to your whole pitch

Your case study library should be updated every time you achieve a significant result for one of your clients.  Many of my clients have case study forms that are distributed regularly to their sales force.  This gives you a great source of material for PR stories and internal communications, as well as building an unbeatable bank of proof.

Great, so that’s the magazine loaded, now how do we fire the bullets?  In my next post I’ll be looking at how to use your case study library to make your audience ask all the best questions.