👉 Using “case studies” as a negotiation lever.
It sounds like this:
“We’ll honor your request for (a discount, payment terms, a language concession) in exchange for your commitment to do a case study with us.”
The research, behavioral science and data tell me that this is a bad idea - I believe they should tell you the same. Here are three reasons why I don’t recommend this as a lever:
Case Study Credibility
Imagine you’ve gone through an entire sales cycle with the prospect, and used case studies as a selling tool.
Now, at the goal line, you’re paying that same prospect in the form of a discount for their contractual obligation of doing a case study once they’re a client.
You have just eroded the case study credibility of the ones used to influence the prospect...and right at the goal line! You’ve told the client that your case studies are bought and paid for.
Imagine going to a website to buy something, and recognizing all of the reviews for the product were paid for.
Would you believe those reviews more...or less?
Be careful! The moment you've started paying for a case study is the moment your case studies have lost their credibility.
How Much Is It Worth To You & Your Company?
Do you ever read reviews online before making a purchase of substance? Do you ever go to the negative reviews first? The data says you do both.
There is a reason negative reviews work on a website, and why a product with an average review score between a 4.2-4.5 sells better than a perfect 5.0.
96% of us read reviews before making a purchase, but more importantly, 82% of us read the negative reviews first - the 4's, 3's, 2's & 1's. Negative reviews next to a product on a website help those products sell - because they aid in the buying brain's need for an accurate prediction of what they're experience is going to be with those products.
The same exact thing happens in human-to-human selling. The buying brain requires the full picture - both the pros & the cons of a potential purchase before they trigger a decision.
Now, consider your case studies. Do your case studies reflect perfection? Are they written in a way that shows both an incredible experience and incredible results?
Our brains are wired to resist consuming ‘perfect speak’ with any credibility.
In other words, case studies hold much less influence in the buying journey than you might think. In a TrustRadius study, they found that case studies are not viewed as authentic, trustworthy or balanced in the buyer decision journey.
Be careful! The stories from case studies are great enablement tools - for salespeople to incorporate in your positioning, prospecting and presenting. But don’t put too much value into them. If prospects don’t value the 'perfect-speak' typically represented in a case study, don’t go spending a ton for them in the form of a pricey concession.
Imagine you have a new client who has had an awful experience so far. Things haven’t gone right, the client is upset, and you’re attempting to save them. Rewind back to the negotiation, where you contractually obligated them to do a case study - having paid for it in the form of a discount or other concession. Are you going to force them to do the case study?
Now, imagine you have a new client you didn’t contractually obligate to a case study - who you didn’t pay for in the form of a discount or concession. They’ve had an incredible experience, love you and your company, and are willing to speak on your behalf. Will you avoid asking them to do a case study with you, because you didn’t pay for it? I would think you might ask them anyway.
Be careful! Contractually obligating a prospect-turning-client to doing a case study rarely holds any weight. If the client has had a great experience, ask them to do one. If the client hasn’t, save them - and when they’re loving the way you responded, ask them then. The language in the contract doesn't matter, and won't matter. In other words:
Don’t pay for a case study in the form of a discount or concession. Earn it!
You have other levers! When a client is asking for a concession, pay in the form of said discount or concession in exchange for a client buying / committing to more (product/services), paying faster, committing longer, or helping you forecast your business. Those are things worth paying for.
And when you embrace transparency from the first discussion, building the relationship on a foundation of trust, setting accurate expectations and meeting them consistently, you’ll have clients who stay, buy more, and are willing to advocate on your behalf.
Stop paying for case studies...it's doing more harm than good!