How to Get Buy-in for Your Case Studies

BY Holly Yoos
February 16, 2023

For most companies, getting buy-in is by far the hardest part of the case study process.

Sure, you might also struggle with defining strategy or finding the internal bandwidth to create case studies.

But for most companies, getting a yes in the first place is the biggest hurdle.

And that “yes” needs to come both internally (from within your own organization) and externally (from the customer).

Getting external case study buy-in

When a customer says no to being in a case study, it’s usually driven by one or more of the following factors: 

  1. Uncertainty
  2. Inconvenience
  3. WIIFM: What’s in it for me?
  4. Legal obstacles

1. Uncertainty

Customers may worry about how they’ll be presented and what will be disclosed. Are they going to come off looking good or bad?

They may even have concerns about proprietary information being published where competitors can see it.

And when they have one or more of these uncertainties, it’s easy for the customer to say no.

Fortunately, uncertainty is the easiest objection to counter.

Reassure your customer that nothing will be published without their approval (and make sure that’s true!). Let them know that they’ll have the final say and that you’ll give them a chance to see everything before it goes out into the world.  

Reassure your customer that nothing will be published without their approval.

2. Inconvenience

Busy customers don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of being featured in your case study. They don’t think they have the time or they’re worried it’s going to be a chore for them. In a lot of cases, they’re already wearing too many hats.

They don’t want to add to their already packed schedule, so they say no.

For this one, your countermove is process: show them what’s involved, and tell them how long it will take

If you want to ask your customers for case studies, you need to make sure the whole process is an easy lift for them. That means taking up just one or two hours of their time to get you everything you need.

You need to make the case study process an easy lift for your customers.

That might sound like a tall order, but if your process is efficient—or you hire the right people to help—it’s totally doable.

This is part of Case Study Buddy’s unique value add. We can reduce the ask of customers and bring predictability to the process, which helps overcome the “inconvenience” objection.

3. WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

This “no” is the hardest one to counter because your customers are right: by being in your case study, they are doing you a favor.

But there are a few things you can offer to make the experience valuable for them too:

Open up your network.

If you have ins with companies they’d like to work with, offer to open that door.

Some of our enterprise clients showcase their success stories at industry events, which boosts their customers’ profiles. Working on a case study helps them get their clients noticed and builds up their network.

[Read more about enterprise case studies.]

Offer an incentive.

Case studies are worth incentivizing financially because one great story breeds more great stories. Gift cards, conference invitations, or offers like additional product training can tip your customer’s “no” into a resounding yes. (However, depending on the incentive and regulatory context your company operates in, you MAY need to reveal these incentives in your case study.)

Offer co-branding opportunities.

Sometimes, case studies can be just one part of a beautiful relationship. Offering up other ways to collaborate, such as a webinar or presentations, can build a path to the customer participating in a case study.

4. Legal obstacles

At some companies, the customer’s legal department will stand in the way of their participating in a case study.

This can be a difficult objection to overcome, but it IS possible with the right written agreements or strategic anonymization of the content.

Getting internal case study buy-in

Now, let’s take a step back for a moment.

Before you ever get to the point of asking a customer to participate in a case study, you may have to overcome internal barriers first—from finding good candidates to getting sales and customer success teams on board.

Often, the secret to getting this internal buy-in is to develop and implement standard operating procedures for case studies.

The secret to internal buy-in is having standard operating procedures for case studies.

That’s right, good-ole SOPs.

Standard operating procedures

How can standard operating procedures help you get internal case study buy-in?

In short, SOPs can guide the entire case study process so that customer case studies become regular and expected instead of happy accidents. They can get everyone on the same page about:

  • What a great candidate looks like
  • When to make the ask
  • How to make the ask
  • What to do when you get a yes… or a no.

As part of this playbook, you might have templated communications for making the ask to make it easier for the sales team to get involved.

Your SOP might identify coverage gaps in your case study content and specify the kinds of stories you need to go after to fill those gaps to guide the nomination process.

The SOP should also spell out what to do when internal teams identify a win. Who do they pass it to? Who’s accountable and responsible for these processes?

With these pieces in place, the same expectation is set, with CSMs, sales reps, and account reps making the ask consistently every time.

Use internal SOPs to overcome external objections

Here’s the cool thing: with SOPs in place, you’re in a much better position to address the objections we outlined at the top: fear, inconvenience, incentives, and legal.

With SOPs in place, you’re in a position to address objections based on fear, inconvenience, incentives, and legal.

You can use them to perfect the pitch to your customers, clarifying, for example:

  • Are your email templates for the ask too long? Too complicated?
  • Are you asking, “Will you be in a case study?”, which can sound scary to some. Does “Can we feature you?” get better results?
  • Are you including specifics about their success story that you’d like to feature (to make the ask more personal and less generic)?
  • Are you sending samples of the success stories you’ve already published (to show your customers what the average deliverable looks like)?

These are all great practices and can dramatically improve the odds of getting buy-in from your customers to participate in a case study.

We can help YOU get buy-in

At Case Study Buddy, we recognize all the work that goes into getting buy-in, both internally and from your customers. That’s why we take what we do so seriously.

Because in asking us to partner with you on your case studies, you’re handing us a precious opportunity. And it’s our job to complement your work and make sure things go to plan—and ensure you come out with a great documented customer success story that you can share with new prospective customers.

Contact us to learn how we can help YOU get buy-in for your case studies.

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