Committing to an enterprise-level purchase is a stressful decision for most B2B buyers. There are real consequences to the business if a vendor performs badly, such as angry customers, lost revenue, or fines associated with failing to follow regulations. An individual’s promotion (or job) could be on the line if things don’t go as planned. Which is one reason big decisions tend to be made by committee—the responsibility and risk is spread out.
Because of this, buyers are wary. B2B salespeople have learned that earning the business takes more than building rapport, a thorough needs analysis, and clear alignment of value. The vendor who wins is usually the one who has best been able to convince decision-makers that their company can be trusted to deliver what’s being promised.
But building trust is challenging—buyers aren’t going to take your word for it. They need proof. Case studies are an ideal form of proof for a couple of reasons:
1. Case studies create credibility.
Prospects can see that a real company is achieving real results, and this company is publicly going on record as being happy with their experience with you. Case studies are particularly powerful if you have a few for each industry you serve—so you can share the most relevant ones with prospects. Prospects usually know who the key players are in their industry in their geographic area, and the social proof packs a stronger punch when prospects recognize your customers.
2. Case studies educate, in an easy-to-digest format.
Stories are popular because they’re easy to follow. Prospects can learn why a customer chose your solution, how it was implemented, how it solved challenges, and what you and your customer did to ensure success—all without struggling to get through a boring litany of information. Stories are interesting.
B2B buyers look to case studies to help them make a decision between vendors that meet their criteria. A recent Hawkeye study showed that 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited that case studies are the most influential types of content. DemandGen Report’s 2016 study found a similar percentage: 73% of B2B buyers reported relying on case studies when making purchase decisions.
This is where the marketing team can really shine and demonstrate their value—supplying the sales team with these convincing case studies that turn wary buyers into ready-to-get-started customers. One of the easiest ways to help the sales team shorten the sales cycle is to keep an ever-growing library of case studies for every industry and business type that you work with.