Ep. 120 – How to Shorten the Sales Cycle with Case Studies w/ Julian Lumpkin

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle with Case Studies

Anyone involved in B2B sales will know that the biggest challenge is to get your prospect to trust what you are saying. Providing those prospects with the relevant consulting, expertise, and customer proof in the form of case studies and video testimonials will help to close that trust gap.

That’s why we invited sales expert Julian Lumpkin (Founder & CEOSuccessKit) to talk about how B2B companies can accelerate sales at different stages of the sales process with case studies and video testimonials. During our conversation, Julian talks about what he thinks is slowing sales down, and how marketing can play a strategic role in developing case studies and video testimonials. He also provides the audience with great tips on how to create better case studies, and how marketers should adapt to the changing B2B buyer landscape.

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Topics discussed in episode

  • Mistakes that B2B companies make when creating case studies and video testimonials, and how they can fix them [3:45]
  • What to do when you don’t have the relevant case study for a particular vertical that you’re targeting [9:36]
  • The importance of having a deep understanding of the customers or the prospects and their buyer’s journey [14:43]
  • Julian explains why he would focus on the problems instead of the results for case studies [18:38]
  • Julian’s take on “How NOT to create boring case studies” [21:28]
  • What is the right format for case studies? [24:21]
  • How to get customers to agree to a case study or video testimonial [28:50]
  • Some actionable tips from Julian: [36:48]
    • Determine the minimum number of case studies needed
    • Start agreeing with different department heads on how the case studies will be used
    • Build a plan everyone agrees and commits to
  • Julian shares a point of view that he passionately disagrees with [41:30]

Companies and links mentioned



Julian Lumpkin, Christian Klepp

Christian Klepp  00:03

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for changemakers where we question the conventional, debunk marketing myths, provide actionable tips, think differently, disrupt industries, and take your marketing to a new level, from improving your campaigns to making you a better marketer. These are the inspirational stories that will help us change the way we think and approach B2B marketing, one conversation at a time. This podcast is brought to you by EINBLICK Consulting, helping you to stand out in the market and drive revenue to your B2B business. And now your host, Christian Klepp.

Okay, welcome everyone to this episode of B2B Marketers on a Mission. This is the show where we help you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry and take your marketing to new heights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I’m joined by someone on a mission to help B2B companies to create case studies and video testimonials that hopefully shorten the sales cycle. So coming to us from St. Petersburg, Florida, Julian Lumpkin, welcome to the show.

Julian Lumpkin  01:12

Great to be here. Thanks for having me, Christian.

Christian Klepp  01:14

Hey, listen, I mentioned this just before we hit record, but I’m giving myself a little bit of pressure for this interview. It’s a pleasure to have you on. And the reason why I’m giving myself pressure is because we’ve had quite a number of folks come on to talk about case studies and video testimonials. So it is my hope with this conversation that we offer a slightly different perspective and inject some new flavors into what people are going to say is “Oh, that topic again?” Right?

Julian Lumpkin  01:42

It’s great that it’s become such topic that multiple people are coming on podcast and talking about it. And I come from a pretty different angle, as you’ll hear, so excited to get into it. And I’m sure you’ll have some really nuanced questions that I’m excited to get into.

Christian Klepp  01:59

Fantastic. All right, well, let’s get the show on the road done. Okay, so you’re an expert, when it comes to case studies and video testimonials for B2B industries. And so for this conversation, let’s focus on the topic of how to accelerate sales at the different stages of the sales process or the sales cycle. So I’d like to kick off this conversation with this question. What do you think is slowing B2B sales down. So talk specifically about where you feel sales is falling short?

Julian Lumpkin  02:31

Yeah, I think that, you know, anyone who’s been in sales, like myself knows that, you know, on the day to day grind, the biggest challenge of a sales process is to get the person you’re speaking with to trust what you’re saying. If you’ve got a credible solution, and you’ve done good prospect, and… good prospecting and good targeting, and you’re speaking to someone you actually can deliver results for. The main thing that is stopping them from moving forward, is believing your claims. And I want to emphasize the “when used correctly”, because that is what it’s all about. Proper customer proof in the form of case studies and video testimonials. can close that trust gap.

Christian Klepp  03:23

Absolutely. And I’d like to add in another question there. Where do you feel B2B companies are using that this incorrectly? Like what have you seen out there in terms of the mistakes that companies make when it comes to case studies and video testimonials? What do they get wrong? Number one, and number two, how should they fix it?

Julian Lumpkin  03:45

Yeah, there’s so many ways I can answer this question. So many different angles we can come at it from but I want to give you the simplest answers, one from a company perspective, and one from a more individual kind of sales tactical perspective. From a company level at B2B companies, and you may be surprised to hear this. And maybe this is true for some of your audience. Maybe not true for others. But the biggest mistake we see is the simplest one, which is not just getting a proper amount of case studies done, and then making them available to the sales team. And this may sound really simple and obvious, but you would be shocked by how many companies credible good B2B companies do below what I would call the minimum of having a solid repository of case studies that is available to a sales team. So if you are a marketer at a company or just work for a company, you know, before you go into all the details of what makes a perfect case study and I, you know, if you start to work with an agency, they’re going to really want to focus on all of the details of what makes a perfect case study and we can talk about that all day in everything’s we do, but the first thing that you should have ask yourself is “Do we have enough?” And what’s a minimum threshold of what the right number of case studies for our company, sales and marketing team are. And that can be vary from different company to company, there’s different factors. But the biggest mistake I see companies make is focusing on trying to get a couple perfect case studies, and missing the minimum threshold of an acceptable amount of case studies. That’s the biggest problem I see companies making.  The biggest mistake I see individual sellers making is not knowing, truly knowing and understanding the case studies. So when you give your case studies to a sales team, or if your sales team receiving case studies, the way to make them effective, is not just to have them and think that, Oh, if I attach this PDF to an email, my prospect is going to trust me. The key for the sales reps, and if you’re in marketing or sales enablement, you need to enable and facilitate this is making sure the sales reps truly know, internalize and understand the case studies. So they can bring them up authentically when they’re truly relevant to the person that they’re speaking with. And these might sound like some simple answers. But these two things are very often missed. And if done correctly, can be a complete game changer for any sales and marketing team.

Christian Klepp  06:32

Those some really good points. And I mean, you’re going back to what you said, I have actually seen those scenarios play out, like, for example, working with companies in the past that A) didn’t have enough case studies, or B) they didn’t have case studies that were relevant to the companies that they were prospecting. So they would use this one size fits all approach. And then they have this vertical, where they’re showing this case study to and it doesn’t resonate with those prospects, because they’re like, Okay, well, that’s fantastic and good for you. But what does that have to do with me? Right? I mean, they don’t exactly say it that way. But you know, it’s generally that response, right?

Julian Lumpkin  07:12

Yeah. And, you know, I see this, for kind of the way that this happens, and, you know, maybe at the risk of calling out some of your audience if this is them. But it is very often the same people that are so focused on the details of how to write a perfect case study that ultimately don’t create any or any significant volume of case studies. So it’s really interesting what I see. And I can’t tell you how frequently I see this, where I’ll meet with a company, they acknowledged they need case studies. And they’re kind of deciding between doing an internally and working with us. And as they go through this evaluation, they’re so focused on what are the elements that make a perfect case study, and finding that perfect client, perfect situation, perfect story to tell, and thinking that a few great case studies are going to really move the needle. And those are the same companies that I talked to one-two years later, that still don’t have any case studies, or still only have two or three case studies. So I think there’s a little bit of a shift in mindset that needs to occur if this applies to you as a marketer, which is to recognize that case studies can never be perfect. Their client stories, your clients are great, they have great answers, but none of them are perfect. No one client story is going to satisfy all your prospect questions. So what I have seen in my time doing this for seven years, is the biggest companies make, the biggest mistake marketers make is failing to take action.

Christian Klepp  08:57

Yeah, no, that’s a really good point. And on that note, I had a follow up question for you, Julian, like this will probably be relevant to many members of the audience who are in this situation, as I mentioned earlier, companies that try to like enter new verticals, and they’re trying to, like, have these conversations with prospects. But let’s say for instance, they don’t have that social proof. They don’t have that case study that really hits the nail on the head for this particular vertical. If you are in that situation, how would you handle that?

Julian Lumpkin  09:36

I’ve been in that situation. In fact, I was in that situation as a sales rep many times. And that’s what ultimately led me to start the company because I could see the difference of how incredibly different it was selling when I had direct case studies for a particular product audience or vertical versus not. So I felt that firsthand, and I did see it. And essentially what you have to do as a sales rep is, you know, be direct about it. And, you know, they’re really, you know, you can’t fake a case study, you can’t talk around, you can’t convince people, someone who’s like them if they’re not. So you have to show them that, you know, you have credibility in other industries. What I would also look to do in that situation, you know, industry, you know, I think the example you mentioned is a company, you don’t have any case studies in the same industry as them. Well, industry is only one factor. So I would look for other factor, other things to match that person up with a case study, ideally, obviously, you’re doing this within their industry as well. But I would think about things like okay, well, what department are they from? Because they, you know, for example, a VP of operations may resonate with a VP of operations from a completely different industry to them better than they would a VP of Finance in their industry. So look for other things like the persona, the biggest problem that you they have, like, what they’re really focused on what their challenges just are. Anything else that you can match them up, I would look for, but depending on how many other case studies you have, the answer is you have to be direct to them, explain the situation and build out that case study for that industry as quickly as you can?

Christian Klepp  11:26

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And I mean, it’s also one of these scenarios where and you, you know, where I’m going with this, like, for instance, if you’re trying to, like, enter the semiconductors vertical, and you don’t have those relevant case studies? How can you show something from a different vertical, that might still be at least to a certain degree relevant, right, that shows that you have that competency? And if you don’t have that competency, you have the capability to wrap your head quickly around their ecosystem? Because that’s what they want to know, too. Right? They want to know, okay, are you able to understand how our industry works, what the challenges are, right? What what the what the process of the cycle of everything that we have to go through looks like?

Julian Lumpkin  11:26

And at the risk of being repetitive, I think this just brings up the first point I brought up. So you know, this really puts it all into focus, because what we see happening, and I guarantee you, there are people in your audience right now in the situation that I have, or in that situation, acquired the clients in that vertical, but their sales team still doesn’t have case studies, because they are looking for a perfect case study, waiting for something else to happen and not doing it. So when you think about that difference, and you know, I use this in my own sales process of if the person has experienced or like think about what it’s like to sell into a new industry where you don’t have case studies. If you don’t create case studies, you’re essentially sending your sales reps into that situation unnecessarily. So I think your question is important how to use other case studies in a situation but also just really highlights how much of a mistake a marketer is making, if they allow their company to put off or find excuses to getting, you know, case studies done for their different verticals.

Christian Klepp  13:25

Absolutely, absolutely. It reminds me of all the story that you keep hearing in tech and SaaS, right. Like, if you keep waiting for the perfect product to be launched. The perfect plan, the perfect roadmap, and you’re waiting too long, then you’re ready too late.

Julian Lumpkin  13:41

Yeah. I mean, I think this applies to so many different… Yeah, there’s so many examples of this, the example that I give, and there’s a little more out there, but like, you know, picture two people, you know… it’s kind of like two people trying to get in shape. Youk now, one sits and evaluates, looks for the perfect gym, the perfect program, perfect diet, the perfect this, this this. And yeah, maybe you can find little things that are better. But what’s way more effective, is just starting and actually taking action and joining that gym, starting that case study and building and learning and talking to your clients and learn what they say. And use what you get, you know, organically to create that case, study, build other content, and prepare for the next one.

Christian Klepp  14:25

Exactly, exactly. All right. I’m gonna move us on to the next question where I’d like you to talk to us about the importance of having a deep understanding of the customers or the prospects as well as their buyers journey. And how can this help to build more trust?

Julian Lumpkin  14:43

I think you know, this helps from both sides, you know, from us all, first of all, talk about it from the case study creation perspective. So, when you’re creating a case study, you really want to have a firm understand of your sales and marketing process. Because when you’re interviewing that client to write the case study, you do want to let them to an extent that… you want to steer the conversation, but you want to let their perspective shine through. But you do want to steer the conversation. So when possible, by knowing the most important gaps or difficulties, challenges, objections that you face in your sales process, what you can do is get your current clients to talk through those issues. So let’s think about like a really a really simple example. Let’s say you, let’s say you help companies implement their CRM, for example. And you know that one of the big sticking points in your sales process is, you know, dealing with the one month that you’re going to be switching from, you know, Salesforce to HubSpot, or whatever it is. And you know, that one of the main reasons people say no to you is, you know, that period where we’re switching is just going to be too rough. What you can do that by knowing that as a marketer, and talking to your sales team and understanding, like, what are the things that they hear, and this is an oversimplified example, but then when you’re doing a case study, and you’re interviewing that client, to get them to say, you know, what were you most concerned about before working with us? And looking for them to say, Oh, well, I was actually really concerned about that the month, the transition period. And then by knowing what your prospects are concerned about, you can get your current clients to go back to when they were in that same situation and say, Well, I was worried about that one month transition, but the way that they set up the data transfer and how the data goes over, you know, we did this this week, this this week, such that it never really interrupted things beyond XYZ. If you don’t know your buyers journey, and the different sticking points in your marketing cycle, you could quickly brush over that and say, okay, great, but we did it fast. Yes, great. But by knowing that that’s something your prospects are concerned about when you hear that from a client. So it’s all about connecting, whether your prospect is here, they have these concerns, your client is here, but they used to have those concerns. And connecting those two questions are what great case studies do, they get the client put themselves back in the shoes of a prospect. And that’s why our case studies always focus so much more on problems than results. Because it’s getting the client to go back to when they were a prospect to put themselves in that mindset, because that’s where your prospects are. Talk about those same things that they were concerned about, and then why ultimately, it worked because or in spite of those issues.

Christian Klepp  18:03

That’s an interesting perspective. So I’m going to like play devil’s advocate here. Because going back to something that you said earlier, right. I’m not. I’m not saying that I entirely disagree with you. But like, going back to what you said about focusing on the problems instead of the results. Why wouldn’t you focus that much on the results? I mean, that seems to be like everybody’s like, go-to when it comes to case study, right? Like, that’s what they want to see. Okay, what are the results? What are the results, and they want to see the, especially the quantifiable aspect of it? And my my all time favorite word? Oh, what was the ROI? Right?

Julian Lumpkin  18:38

I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t collect the results when you can get them. Don’t get me wrong. But just think about it from your own perspective. When you see an email that says someone can save you 10% on your costs, or increase your revenue 15%. Are you excited? Are you like, Oh, my God, I need to learn about how this person can do that? Or do you get 20 emails saying save 10%? Save 20% See this, see that? You see that all the time.

Christian Klepp  19:07

You treat those more with suspicion than anything.

Julian Lumpkin  19:11

I think a better way to think about it is the results aren’t impressive, until they’re in context. Everyone has, you know, every company has clients that have achieved results, or they wouldn’t be around anymore. When you hear companies say they achieved a result, it’s not. It’s not just immediately interesting, because we’re, for the few reasons, we’re bombarded with people saying yes, they can save us money, whether it’s in our business emails, on television for our insurance, like it’s just like save 20% or increase revenue 15%. It is everywhere, and it just doesn’t have any sort of connection to yourself as a prospect. On the other hand, if there’s something specific you’re struggling with, that’s top of mind. Your prospects don’t wake up saying how can I find some solution that will save me 15% They wake up thinking, Oh, this thing in my CRM isn’t working right, this drives me crazy, there’s got to be a way better way to do this. We lose two days on our this, you know, every time this happens. So the results are important, but they’re only important after the person reading it can connect with the situation. So we always try to get results in our case studies. But we focus way more on the problems, though, what were you struggling with before you were working with this vendor, and then the results are really there to back up the fact that they would help, rather than most of the time be the lead in the story. There are exceptions, don’t get me wrong, there are certain situations where it’s like, you know, you achieve this result, the people reading it will understand the significance of it, and you want to lead with that. But more often we’re leading with this company had a problem. And they were able to solve it.

Christian Klepp  21:01

Good answer! I’m gonna move on to another question. And rather than asking you something that you brought up a few minutes ago about like, okay, tell us, Julian, what the perfect case study looks like? Instead of asking you that, I would rather ask you something I’ve asked the other guests on the show, how do you save the B2B world, from boring case studies?

Julian Lumpkin  21:28

Yeah, it’s really difficult. And, you know, I think that if you’re creating case studies thinking you’re going to create some viral piece of content, you know, you just got the wrong idea for them. So I think that you want to make your case studies as interesting as possible. Don’t get me wrong. But to start with, how can I make this so interesting that everyone’s going to click and share it, really misses the purpose of a case study, they’re never you know, it’s not edutainment, it’s not, you know, you’re not producing this, you know, amazing two minute video that you work on all year. And then, you know, everyone sees and shares. So I think that you want to avoid them being boring by not making them too long. So we typically do two to three pages, not focusing on technical detail, too much. And the way to achieve, you know, that is by letting your client’s voice and perspective shine through, so letting them explain what’s important to them, rather than make sure you talk about all their terms, more than your own tool, rather. So like, let them talk about the challenges that they solve. But ultimately, case studies are only interesting when they’re in the right context. They’re not, they’re not entertainment. And I think this is why in some cases, case studies get a bad rep, because people use them incorrectly. Or they think, Oh, I shared this case study, I posted a PDF of a case study on LinkedIn. And, you know, only eight people liked it. Well, yeah. Because they’re not interested in that content, except in very certain situations, if you have a big home run with new client, but most of the time, case studies are interesting, because they’re put in the right context, because the person, you know, they’re interesting to the person that they’re supposed to speak to at that moment. So when you do case studies, you know, they’re very different from the rest of marketing content, the goal is not to make them as exciting and get the most immediate eyeballs on them. They’re for a very specific audience in a specific time. And you want to avoid boring, but I, you know, we haven’t seen companies go the direction of, you know, making them turn them into little comedy sketches. And I don’t see it going that way.

Christian Klepp  23:49

That’s a really good point. And I suppose you’re not creating these case studies in the hope that Netflix is going to call you. Right? That’s also like you said, it’s kind of like missing the point. Right. But I do have one follow up question for you. Like, based on what you just said, Is there a particular format that you guys advocate, or does it depend on the vertical? Does it depend on the stage of the buyers journey? Or what are the factors involved?

Julian Lumpkin  24:21

Yeah, all of the factors, there’s no one you know, there’s no perfect format, there’s no perfect length, there’s no perfect structure. And, you know, I drives me crazy. When people debate, what’s better, video or written? I think it’s really, honestly, it’s just like self-serving. You know, people who produce videos will tell you video’s better, people who just produce written content will tell you written content is better. And, you know, to try to decide between them or figure out the right format. I think it’s really the wrong approach. I think that the way that I kind of get my clients to think about these things is just to remember that each person consuming your content is going to have different preferences. Some of them like to walk a video, some of them like to read, some of them like to watch short video, some of them like long form content. And it’s why the kind of idea of like, you know, every people are different. There’s no one perfect format to make your case study that’s going to engage everyone. So really, the answer to that question is to have a lot of different formats. So that you can tailor it, or the person consuming can tailor what they consume based on how they like to consume content. So when we do a case study with our clients, we might make a one page, you know, one slide deck, we might make a two minute video, a few 20″ videos, a three page version, a one page version, because again, depending on who the person reading, it is, where they are in the sales cycle, what industry they’re in, the technical details of the solution, all of those factors are going to determine what the best format is.

Christian Klepp  25:54

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I agree with that. I mean, one, it really depends. Secondly, it’s also dependent on, to your point, how your prospects consume content, right?

Julian Lumpkin  26:07

Yeah. And as an example, I’m curious, do you have a favorite way of consuming case studies or content in general,

Christian Klepp  26:12

I’m a little bit biased, because I’m a writer. So the written content. But that being said, I do like watching videos too.  Yeah, but I will say that even if, even though I do enjoy written content, I do think it’s important to give the content, some breathing space and insert infographics or insert. I’m a big fan of infographics and diagrams and charts, right? Because it not only helps to break up those huge chunks of text. But it also helps you to provide some visual context. Right. To highlight what is being outlined in this case study, like, for instance, and I think this is relevant, not just in B2B tech, but just across the board, where they have comparison charts, right? Like you know, what was the situation like before, and when they started using the solution, or the software or the technology, and you know, what happened afterwards. And if that is quantifiable, then fantastic. Another one is also like just to just show like diagrams, or like the process of the different processes, or the different journeys that these companies went on, like from where they were before, but where they are right now.

Julian Lumpkin  26:21

Nice.  Yeah, and I think that makes perfect sense. And one thing we’ll try to do in a lot of our case studies is… Now if you’re going to do a three, maybe a four page case study, you want it to be such that the prospect can just read it straight through, but that they can also scan it and get the idea. And things like bigger language, call out boxes, diagrams, maybe it’s a you can have a meaty three, four page document. But that is also totally scannable.

Christian Klepp  28:00

Another follow up question for you, Julian, because you’re so good at answering these questions. I just, I’m just gonna throw one more in there. The audience, I know for sure, is struggling with this scenario. Iit’s important. It’s important to get like you said, it’s important to get as many case studies produced as possible. But I’ve heard more than once, right, where people say, Yeah, we we really would like to do that. But sometimes we have a hard time getting the customer to agree to a case study, or… So what I mean is like to say yes, yes, you can do a case study about this particular scenario, or about our our specific case. So long story short, how do you get the customer to agree to a case study, or to a video testimonial?

Julian Lumpkin  28:50

Yeah, this is a great question. So we definitely don’t have any magic bullet to make your customers agree to be in a case study. And when a client brings up the situation you just brought to me, we’re gonna have a conversation to basically try to understand, which is the case. On the one hand, you might be saying that because your clients truly will not go on record and talk about you the vast majority of the time. Some of the examples of places we see that are companies that serve the government, certain or most types of cybersecurity companies, financial technology software, there are… so you know, when I get when I hear that question, the first thing I’m trying to determine is, is it truly a companywide situation that your clients don’t want to go on record can’t slash don’t want to put their name and logo and participate in case studies? If that’s the case, then we’re going to talk about ways to do anonymous or semi anonymous case studies. We can talk about that if you’d like it’s a separate conversation. unless you really have to, I don’t recommend going down that route that road. The other side, and I’m suspecting this is more, what you meant is that you’re just having a hard time getting your clients to say yes. So there’s a few things that I would make sure to have in place in that situation. So number one, is making sure it’s very clear to the client, that they are going to have final sign off on the content from the very beginning. So you know, it’s kind of make sure they know we’re paying for this, we’re going to do all the work. But you the case subject will get to review and approve the content before it’s finalized. So saying that in the beginning, making sure that they know that you’re going to make them and their brand look good. So I talked about problem based case studies, which are great. If you have clients that are very difficult to get involved in case studies, they may not want to go on record talking about a problem they had. So you might have to shift the approach you take of the case study, you always want to make them the hero. So it’s never like, oh, they were clueless, they didn’t know what they’re doing. And then they found us and now they’re great, you can make it clear to them that you’re going to position them as taking extra steps to get out in front and at the forefront of their industry. And basically them as is being the leader. So make sure that they know that they’re going to get…. they’re gonna be the hero of the story. And then finally, just to make sure they know you have like a really tight process for getting it done. You know, many people have been involved in a case study or, you know, someone from marketing interviews you and someone from the other team interviews you and it takes three hours, so lay out the steps for it. So laying out those three things:  Timing, how long it’s going to take them that they get final sign off, and then you’re going to make them look good. So making sure those things are in place. And then it’s really about making sure the request actually get made. So I tell my clients in certain industries, if you want to get a case study done, you might have to ask 5 or 10 clients before getting Yes. And that’s okay. I think that so sometimes it’s really just about upping the volume, some will say maybe, and you’ll have to follow up with them, we obviously can… we handle this for our clients, but like, you’ve got to make the requests. And those are the main things that that’ll do it. The last thing I’ll say, and this is really about just kind of more generally running a good company, but I will note that, in my experience, one of the main factors in whether a company ultimately agrees to do a case study is their… the person’s direct relationship with their account manager. In certain situations, it’s very easy for a company to participate in a case study, and then it doesn’t really matter, they like your, your solution enough, they’ll do it. But usually that person has to or very often that person has to go to bat internally. And it often becomes a very person… like, you know, they’re doing it not, you know, you could have two companies that both love your product. And if one of them doesn’t have a great relationship with their account manager, they’re just gonna say no, why bother? You could have somebody likes your product, and they have a great relationship, their account manager, and they come and ask them, they feel kind of personally obligated and want to help. So if there’s kind of a tip in there, you know, I recommend that request not come from your marketing department, but from the account manager who has a relationship. And then just more generally, you know, facilitating your account managers building great relationships with your clients, I think is good advice for everyone.

Christian Klepp  33:51

Yeah, those are some really great points. And thanks again for sharing those. I would also throw in and I’m sure this is where you’re going with that, too, that companies shouldn’t just be asking for case studies just before they need them, right. This has to be something that… it’s like you said it’s nurturing those relationships with customers on an ongoing basis. So that when the time comes that you actually do need to write the case studies or, you know, the video testimonials, that it’s well, that they’re all warmed up already, right that you’re… and it’s also planned ahead of time. It shouldn’t be like this knee jerk reaction where somebody says, okay, because I’ve seen this happen, right? Oh, we’ve got a big pitch. We’ve got to submit the proposal by you know, in a couple of weeks, and we need case studies like we need four or five case studies pronto. So everybody’s in reactive mode. And by then it’s already too late.

Julian Lumpkin  34:43

Completely agree. And I think I’m answering very much you know, thinking that your audience is kind of in the… and the people really listening are in like the getting it going phase and that’s what’s important. But yeah, the next step is what you brought up and you said it really well. And the only thing I’ll add to it is, you know, when this all comes together, and it’s done correctly. You’re selling with case studies during your sales process, you so you’re already setting them up to understand like, Okay, this company does case studies. They are seeing them. And then when you make the request, you can say like, Hey, remember, you were really concerned about our ability to, you know, do the data transfer in the span of two weeks, you know, within our CRM? and we showed you that case study, well, now we’ve achieved some results for you, do you think we can document how… exactly your story so that we can help someone else? So it all starts to come together of having a process for getting case studies into your sales process, bringing it up with clients, you know, casually during the sales process, and then as you’re achieving results for them? And it kind of turns into a bit of a flywheel effect to use the popular term of the day.

Christian Klepp  36:02

Absolutely, absolutely. All right, Julian, we get to the point in the show where we’re talking about actionable tips, right. So let’s appreciate that the kind of work that you and your company do. These aren’t things that you can do in, you know, in 24 hours, there isn’t like, at least not to my knowledge, there isn’t an app that you can download, and then bam, right, instant results. But going back to your point about the people that listen to the show, are probably in the situation, what is like a piece of advice, or maybe three to five things that you could tell them to do right now to develop those case studies that will help to shorten the sales cycle?

Julian Lumpkin  36:48

So if I were a marketer, in that situation, what is the approximate minimum number of case studies, we need to be in a solid situation. And by that I mean both a number of case studies. And if you sell to kind of four very distinct verticals, or different personas to maybe have one case study that hits each of these. So if I were in that situation, the first thing I would do, I would try to make this very specific. And numerical. How many do we need? What are the goals? And I think it’s such an important step, because the mistake I see marketers make is, like you said, they wait, they wait, they wait until they need them, they waited until they see or for a perfect situation. But by starting agreeing with sales leadership, people are going to use these case studies, obviously, you can as a marketer, too, and saying, What is that minimum position that we need to be in. Writing that down, agreeing with sales and/or account management that we’re going to, you know, ask the right number of people to get that. So I would decide on the number that you need, try to get a sense of what percentage of your clients are going to be willing to participate. And you’ll know that pretty quickly. Some you know… and then build a plan that is committed to and agreed with, with your marketing team, and your account management team. One of the main things we see stopping companies from getting case studies done is just too there’s too much inter-department coordination that doesn’t happen. So you want to get all three departments on the same page. This is what we need, what we need from, from marketing, from sales and from account management, and then start getting them done.

Christian Klepp  38:40

Fantastic. Fantastic. One more follow up question for the day, I promise. All right,

Julian Lumpkin  38:46

I’ve got time. Go on.

Christian Klepp  38:49

No, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. Because there’s a lot of well, the guests who have come on previously, and also people on LinkedIn, have been talking about this, but the format for the case study, and there’s been I know that there’s several camps out there, and one camp says you should stop, you know, listing it as the problem, the solution and the results. And then other people are saying like, No, that is the format that you should be using. And others are saying like, no, there’s a better format now. So over to you. What’s the correct format that folks should be using to create case studies.

Julian Lumpkin  39:30

I wouldn’t choose a specific format. It’s something I talk with each of my clients about. What I can say is that anyone telling you problem solution results, that doesn’t work because there’s some new fancy or entertainment way and that’s like the old boring case study, I think is overcomplicating the case studies. You can have different structures you know, leading with the big You know, kind of most exciting part or problem and different structures and custom headlines that kind of tie back to problems situation result because that is a good focus. But I think, I think over focusing on something like this really misses the point. The important part is that it’s your customer’s authentic story. That it speaks to the right audience, that it’s used correctly. Whether you make your headers problem, or describe the actual problem in that header. I don’t think is that important.

Christian Klepp  40:31

Totally agree. Totally agree. All right.

Julian Lumpkin  40:34

And just add to that, yes. So this is something we ask our clients about, about 50% of the case studies. We do follow that very closely. 50% take slightly slight variations.

Christian Klepp  40:47

Absolutely. Again, it’s back to what we’ve been talking about all this time. It really depends on the situation. Right?

Julian Lumpkin  40:53

Exactly. Yeah. If there’s one takeaway I’d give is that, that’s what my case studies, when you hear people saying case studies don’t work, or they’re not that good, or they’re this or that. It’s about how they use them. They’re not a magic bullet, they need to present it in the right situation with context. That’s what makes a case study powerful.

Christian Klepp  41:09

Absolutely, absolutely. Julian, I have this feeling that you’ve been on your soapbox all this time, but I’d like to ask you to stay on there a little bit longer. For this next question. So what is the status quo in your area of expertise that you passionately disagree with? And why?

Julian Lumpkin  41:30

The biggest thing is that case studies need direct numerical results to be powerful. And it’s kind of like if they have… and this idea that if a case study has a specific percentage, and and it’s a good case study, and if a case study doesn’t have that it’s a bad case study, or it’s less effective. And that seems to be what most people think before they really dive into case studies. And I disagree.

Christian Klepp  41:54

I tend to disagree with that as well. I mean, I’ve heard it so many times before that, you know, when you present case studies, and they don’t see the quantifiable results, that’s why I asked the question about the whole ROI question. Because how often have you heard customers or prospects say, Well, if you can’t quantify the results, then that’s not a good case study or, or that’s not, that’s not a good result. And I tend to disagree with that.

Julian Lumpkin  42:20

Yeah, and I asked people to, like think like, it’s like, it’s such a kind of like, me, us marketing focus point of view, like, think of like, I always want to have these conversations, I get tried to get people to put yourself back in the prospect situation. Can you write out in your ROI for every piece of software that you use? And like? No, that doesn’t mean you don’t like them. So if a company is forcing you into that mindset, they’re not going with how prospects naturally think about things. And it may seem like numerical is always better. And it’s great to have them but in reality, you know, just because something’s good, doesn’t mean you can define it numerically and not having that, and it depends on the situation.

Christian Klepp  43:04

Absolutely, absolutely. Julian, this has been a great conversation, you handled all my impromptu questions like a champ. So thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise and experience with the listeners. So please, quick intro, and how folks out there can get in touch with you.

Julian Lumpkin  43:23

Well, first of all, thanks for asking such good detailed questions. I do a lot of these interviews and your questions really got to the heart of what matters in case studies. If people want to find me or SuccessKit, they can find me on LinkedIn, Julian Lumpkin. I’m the only one with that name. So pretty easy to find. If you’re interested in our company or help with case studies, it’s SuccessKit, the word successkit.io

Christian Klepp  43:48

Fantastic. Fantastic. So once again, Julian, thanks so much for your time. Take care, stay safe and talk to you soon.

Julian Lumpkin  43:55

Thank you.


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