How to Get More Enterprise Case Studies and Overcome 4 Common Challenges

BY Holly Yoos
November 15, 2022

Most enterprise companies know the value of arming their sales and marketing teams with case studies that provide hard evidence of their ability to solve problems experienced by their customers.

In fact, our most recent research has found that 100% of the top fifty SaaS companies have written customer case studies on their websites—and the average number of case studies per SaaS company is 130!

But how do these large enterprise companies create those case studies at scale?

How do they overcome the most common obstacles—such as sales teams that are reluctant to nominate customers, customers that hesitate to participate, and approval processes that stall?

Here are four ways to overcome the most common obstacles and create enterprise case studies at scale:

  1. Motivate your sales team to nominate customers
  2. Invite customers to self-nominate
  3. Motivate customers to participate
  4. Find C-Suite champions

1.   Motivate your sales team to nominate customers

It isn’t always easy to get sales or account reps to nominate their customers to participate in case studies.

Their reluctance is understandable. When managing big customer accounts, sales reps don’t want to do anything that could put that account—and those relationships—at risk.

Further, sales reps know that nominating a customer for a case study will place additional demands on their time, from making introductions to reassuring the customer throughout the process.

This is why offering incentives to sales reps and their teams for nominating customers for case studies is often a useful approach.

Incentives can be non-monetary (e.g. internal recognition) or monetary (e.g. gift cards).

Straight-ahead cash rewards are also not uncommon. For example, we know of one enterprise company that awards sales teams with $5,000 for every case study they bring in as part of its SPIFF program.

So figure out what motivates your sales team and put some incentives in place.

As an aside, incentives alone often won’t do the trick. You also need to do whatever you can to lighten the load of the sales team through the case study creation process, such as providing templates for making the ask of their customers.

And, of course, choosing to work with a seasoned case study creation partner can also relieve your sales and marketing teams of most of the burden of creating case studies—which also helps get them on board.

2. Invite customers to self-nominate

While you’re encouraging your sales team to nominate their customers to participate in a case study, you can simultaneously encourage customers to nominate themselves—preferably through a defined customer reference program.

That’s what Citrix and GitHub are doing to identify and capture more customer success stories.

Here’s the promotional video for Citrix’s customer reference program:

GitHub’s customer reference program is similar.

Here’s how GitHub describes it on their program landing page:

We present a platform for customers to showcase their success on how GitLab has delivered value to their business and the role that YOU may have played in this!

Depending on the customer story, reference assets can be case studies, blogs, speaking engagements or customer videos etc. These reference assets will highlight your DevOps success with GitLab and also add huge value to your brand as an employer and as an innovator.

This two pronged approach—motivating your sales team and reaching directly to your customers—can be a highly effective way to get more customer success stories and circumvent problems of hesitation and reluctance.

3.   Motivate your customers to participate

Some customers will participate in a customer success story out of the goodness of their hearts, which is wonderful. But sometimes an incentive is required.

For example, when we do a remote video shoot, we ship equipment to participants to help ensure good audio and lighting. The customer gets to keep the equipment, which is a nice little motivator for some folks.

Sometimes, customers are motivated by side benefits that come along with agreeing to participate in a case study, such as:

  • Showcasing their success at industry conferences
  • Enjoying new networking opportunities
  • Benefiting from co-branding relationships
  • Receiving additional training.

(Not incidentally, these are just the kinds of benefits hinted at in the Citrix and GitHub customer reference programs.)

In another example, we know of an enterprise company that holds an annual “customer success” contest. Customers nominate themselves in different award categories. As part of the nomination process, they have to complete a lengthy, detailed questionnaire describing their project’s challenges, solution, and results. They also must agree to participate in a written case study if selected as the winner in any category.

If the customer is selected as a winner, they’re invited to speak about their experience at an all-expense paid trip to the company’s annual conference—presumably held in a nice, sunny location. The customer also benefits from the networking, brand awareness, and co-branding opportunities that the event presents to them.

4.   Find C-Suite champions

Another way to get buy-in from your customers is to appeal to the needs of their C-Suite executives.

Consider this: The tenure of most C-Suite executives is short. The average tenure of a CFO is 4.7 years. CIO is 4.6. CMO is 3.5 years.

Knowing their time with any one company has a limited shelf-life, most C-Suite executives are motivated to make their mark before it’s time to move on. They need to build a resume of accomplishments to help them take the next step in their career path.

A great way to document those accomplishments is with case studies—case studies of successful projects completed when the executive was at the helm.

This doesn’t mean you have to interview that executive (which can be nearly impossible to schedule). Instead, all you need is a short quote or two about the project that they can put into an email.

At the same time, you conduct a detailed interview with someone closer to the project. This interview makes up the bulk of the case study—but you also include a quote from the CFO, CIO, CMO or other executive.

By including the C-Suite quote, you recognize the executive’s stewardship of the successful project. And it gives them hard evidence of success that they can leverage when it’s time for them to look for their next position.

Looping in a C-Suite champion may not be appropriate for all of customers. But in some cases, it can be a powerful motivator to get the case study completed and approved. Because if a C-level executive is championing it, everyone in the company will get behind it.

Lighten the burden with Case Study Buddy

The heavier the burden on your sales team and customers, the more you need to put incentives and motivation in place to get them to participate.

At Case Study Buddy, we partner with enterprise companies to lift the burden from everyone involved in the process.

Contact us to learn more.

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