A blog entry by Lena Grundberg, Founder of Grundlig Kommunikation
In the process of acquiring new customers and increasing sales, a company’s various representatives will send many messages that in the end may confuse the customer.
- Sales people can argue almost anything in order to get a deal done.
- Marketing people will push advertising and events with a commercial twist.
- PR people will try to get journalists and bloggers to write about a product, using their words.
This is, of course, all for good purpose perhaps, but it may not overcome one of the bigger obstacles in doing business in today’s crowded markets, namely getting your customers’ trust.
Who do customers really trust? What about another customer? An existing customer whose words ring true, and who can be asked for verification on the claims made, is the best promoter any company can have.
Here, a good customer reference case will bring many opportunities:
- The sales team will have a powerful and convincing voice when meeting new and old prospects.
- An existing customer is great to use in articles, photo shoots, customer videos, events etc.
- A good customer case will give great PR and opportunities for new relations with media and others.
So let us agree that customer cases are of great value to drive sales, as well as improving marketing and PR.
Despite the knowledge of the value of customer cases, it is seldom a simple process to get them done. Often no organizational function really owns the process. Also, the information gap between marketing, communication, and sales implies that none of them can easily take charge.
We at Grundlig have our take on how to look at the process and on how to manage it efficiently:
- Structure – Start with an inventory of what kinds of cases you need – what trades, company sizes, geographic markets, products, etc. What topics and activities will your existing references accept to talk about or help out with, and what is their area of expertise?
- Proactivity – Marketing or communications people need to be proactive, because you cannot always expect the sales team to supply the reference cases. They are not that keen on filling out forms with problem-solution-results. They are motivated by other objectives like quotas and exceeding budgets to get bonuses. So participate in sales teams meetings and explain what is needed and what contacts you need. Maintain good relations with sales and be active when new deals and opportunities show.
- Put the sales team on a pedestal – Make sure that you put the spotlight on the sales people that help out with reference cases. Create a reward system or competitions for those that are active contributors.
- Respect – Don’t forget that it’s the sales team that generally “owns” the relationship with customers. So don’t contact customers without going through a sales person’s or account manager’s knowledge and approval!
- Execution – Be ready to use professionals to produce the cases. A DIY method is not recommended. Unless you have trained professionals in video/photo and writing, it is worth the money to build a platform for customer cases. A poorly presented customer case will bring only badwill!
Here’s a rather fascinating example of a customer case video, found in the Geodis Wilson newsroom on Mynewsdesk.
Lena Grundberg is the Founder of Grundlig Kommunikation and is based in Stockholm, Sweden. Grundlig Kommunikation supports B2B companies in the use of customer references as a sales tool and specializes in video case studies