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The Power of Case Studies, Part 3 of 4: Researching

Many companies rely on salespeople to contact and interview clients for case studies. This almost never works for a number of reasons, which include:

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Salespeople resent the extra responsibility

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Salespeople worry about jeopardizing their relationships with clients

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Most salespeople are uncomfortable interviewing clients

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Most salespeople don’t enjoy writing

Since portions of the case study will be about the salesperson, you’re basically asking the salesperson to interview the client about his own performance – very uncomfortable.

No one likes doing something that they aren’t trained to do. Creating case studies is a communications task. This means either someone on your communications staff or your public relations rep should be interviewing your clients and writing your case studies.

Given that, you’ll absolutely want the input of your sales staff when choosing clients for case studies. No one knows about client successes better than they do.

In order to be respectful of your client’s time, develop a list of standard interview questions that cover all the basics. Having a list will eliminate (or at least minimize) the number of times you need to call the client to follow up. Don’t hesitate to ask additional questions that relate to the specific case.

Quantify any successes as much as you can. Ask for specifics and statistics – that’s what readers will be looking for.

Assuming you’re prepared – you’ve research the company, talked at length with the client’s salesperson, and have a list of standard questions - you shouldn’t need more than 30 minutes for the interview. Your last question should always be, “Is there anything else you want to add?”

Be sure to record the interview and transcribe it later. Otherwise, even if you’re a great note taker, you’ll miss important points. If it’s a phone interview, start the recorder at the beginning of the call, and then ask the client if it’s OK to record the conversation. That way, you’ll have the response on tape.

It’s true, transcribing the conversation will take extra time. But you’ll find that because you have so much more material, you’ll make up the time when you write the case study. You’ll also be more confident about any quotes you use.

Stay tuned for Part 4 next week!

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