Here’s Why You Need to Include a Case Study in Your Next Proposal

When sending a sales proposal to a prospect that isn’t familiar with your business, it’s imperative that you establish credibility from the start. One of the best ways to build this trust is through the use of case studies and facts.

Why Case Studies Work

Case Studies

Case studies obviously take time and effort to develop, so it’s not uncommon to hear businesses look at them skeptically. Why write case studies? Are they even valuable? Do they produce a tangible return? These are all valid questions and smart inquiries – but the answer is a resounding, “Yes, case studies are worth the investment.”

Case studies serve the primary purpose of being indirect and fair endorsements of your company. Since the information is rooted in factual data, prospects view case studies as relatively unbiased.

From the business side of things, case studies can also be extremely cost effective. If you already have a good strategy for collecting and organizing data, the only thing a case study requires is some careful compilation and a bit of storytelling.

If you sell a single product to a variety of different customers, you’ll also find that case studies are ideal for tailoring messaging to unique groups. “You can use case studies to showcase specific features and benefits of your product or service,” marketer Christina Walker says. “You may sell your offer to lots of customers, but each client will have a unique result thanks to one particular aspect of your offer. Case studies let you promote the same product or service multiple times by focusing on different aspects that generate different results.”

6 Tips for Using Case Studies in Your Proposals

Okay, so case studies are obviously valuable tools. But how can they be used in conjunction with sales proposals to increase response and close rates? Let’s check out a few tips and best practices to get you started.

1. Compile Case Studies Well in Advance

How many times have you been writing a proposal where you really wish you could back up a valid point with a statistic or example? Well, when you’re actually writing a proposal and preparing to send it out, there isn’t time to find an example, write a new case study, and go through all of the necessary steps to include it. You need to already have it on hand.

The number one tip for using case studies in your proposals is to develop them well in advance. It’s a whole lot easier and less stressful if you already have the information ready to go. You can then customize it to fit the specific prospect or need at hand.

2. Ask Your Best Customers for Feedback

Customer Feedback

You should have a decent idea of which projects and clients will make for good case studies. These are more than likely your most profitable clients and the ones who keep coming back for more. However, just because you have a client who does well, doesn’t mean you can use their information for your benefit.

The key is to ask customers if they’re willing to let you use their information (perhaps under anonymity). If they say yes, then set up a time where you can speak with them to get quotes and background information that isn’t available in the data.

3. Get Very Specific

Avoid the temptation to paint too broad of a picture in your case studies. Often, companies will try to take shortcuts and create general studies that can be used for a variety of purposes. While this is nice, it ultimately waters down the message.

The purpose of a case study is to speak directly to a prospect on an issue or pain point that matters to them. The only way to do this is by getting very specific. It’s much better to have five or six specific case studies than 10 or 12 general ones. Rarely will you extract any value from the latter.

4. Make Case Study Summaries Concise

Case studies should provide an in-depth look at a particular issue, but don’t assume that a prospect will spend hours sifting through graphs, charts, and findings. Always place a concise summary – also known as an executive summary – at the beginning of the case study. This summary should include bullet point data and the ultimate takeaway. As a rule of thumb, any executive summary should be capable of standing on its own.

5. Use Images and Immersive Graphics

Case studies are designed to be engaging. However, somewhere along the line, this was forgotten. Today, the average case study resembles a boring white paper with complicated charts and lifeless clip art. If you want maximize the value of your work, incorporate colorful images, original graphics, and even videos. The more visual a case study is, the more likely it is to connect with the sales lead.

6. Continually Update Case Studies

Finally, don’t forget to keep case studies fresh. Depending on your industry and how quickly things change, a case study may only have a useful shelf life of a few months to a year. Other industries can get away with keeping case studies alive for as long as 24 to 36 months. However, the point is that case studies demand relevancy. If you want prospects to take you seriously, then your data must be up to date.

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A sales proposal is one of the single most important tools you have for engaging prospects and winning over customers. Unfortunately, far too many companies inadvertently devalue sales proposals by instead choosing to focus on less important responsibilities and tasks. The good news is that you can enjoy the positive returns of highly effective sales proposals without wasting unnecessary time and effort.

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