How to get tangible metrics for persuasive enterprise software case studies

Collecting persuasive, tangible metrics for an enterprise software case study can be problematic, but if you ask the right questions, says Dave Schafer, you can get those figures

B2B customers are skeptical about any claims you make about your wonderful IT enterprise software solution and its benefits. But they believe what their peers say: According to an Influitive study 53% of B2B buyers rely on peer recommendations before making any purchase decisions. That’s why case studies are compelling, powerful marketing pieces. These success stories let your clients brag for you. And it works: 78% of buyers use a case study when researching a B2B purchasing decision, according to Demand Gen’s 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report.

The best case studies draw their persuasive strength from tangible benefits the solution provided the featured client. To illustrate those benefits, the story needs hard before-and-after data. But – and I’m speaking from experience – getting that kind of data for an enterprise software solution can be problematic.

Solid metrics for IT success stories can be stubborn figures

Often, the source you’re getting your information from at the client’s company has trouble quantifying exactly how much the solution helped them. They offer generalizations, such as: “We have much better interactions with our clients since we implemented the CRM solution." Anecdotal evidence such as: “Phil is able to talk to the prospects about how they liked the most recent event they attended." Or even testimonials, such as: “Jane in sales sent this email that said ‘I love the new CRM! It’s so much easier to use and saves so much time!’.” While this type of feedback can add flavor to a case study, they don’t provide the measurable data you need for your persuasive success story.

How to find measurable data for your persuasive case study

You can overcome that problem, though, by asking the right questions and digging deeper into the client’s answers. Every solution and situation is different and so requires different questions. But there are some basic questions you can start with to dig up the concrete data you need to create compelling B2B success stories that convince the prospect to become a customer. They’re laid out below; pick the ones that seem relevant to your solution and build on them.

1. Dig deeper into sales revenue benefits

Showing an increase in sales is always compelling. After all, more sales equals more revenue. But with enterprise software solutions, pinning down revenue increase directly related to the solution can be difficult. Many times the featured client will be hesitant to attribute all of the sales growth to a solution when there could be other factors in play, such as a new marketing initiative and a new salesperson. However, the questions below will start giving you a picture of how your solution helped them:

  • How many visitors, leads, and qualified opportunities did you see before implementing the solution? How many now?
  • What were your conversion and engagement rates before implementing the solution? What are they now?
  • What were prospects’ or customers’ response rates before? What are they now?
  • What was the average order size? What is it now?
  • What was your customer attrition rate before? What is it now?

2. Dig deeper into time savings

Time savings are more easily pinpointed with enterprise software solutions. Most solutions are designed to save time, so measuring time savings as a direct result of the solution should be relatively simple. Ask the client:

  • How many hours were employees spending on tasks that have been automated now that the solution is in place?
  • If employees are performing the same tasks as before, how much time were they spending on them before? How much are they spending on them now?
  • How much time is being saved through internal process improvements? Through task consolidation? Ask for specific examples of which processes have been improved, how much time was required for those processes before, and how much is required now.
  • How many fewer errors are being made? Again, ask for specifics: How many and what kinds of errors were being made before? What were the consequences of those errors? How much time was being wasted on error correction or do-overs? How much time is spent on that now?
  • Has prospecting time been reduced because of improved targeting? How much time was spent targeting prospects before? How much now?

3. Dig deeper into cost savings

Time savings can be looked at two ways: Now employees are doing other tasks, which means productivity has gone up, and you’ll want to follow that avenue of questions; or, they simply no longer have to keep as many staff on hand, or working as many hours, to complete the same amount of work. If that’s the case, you can go further and find out the average salary for the employees who are no longer working those hours, and then multiple it by the savings in hours to get a cost savings. That can be especially helpful to figure return on investment. Here are questions to get at productivity and cost-savings figures:

  • How much has employee or managerial productivity increased? How many more tasks can now be completed on a daily or a weekly basis? What percentage of total tasks being completed does that represent? (Even a rough estimate would work.)
  • Have you been able to reduce part-time or temporary staff and still get as much work completed? If so, how much have you reduced staff, and what were you paying those staff members?
  • Have you reduced or eliminated the need to outsource projects? How much has been saved on direct outsourcing expenses or overhead?
  • Have marketing campaign expenses been reduced because of better targeting? What were they before, and what are they now?
  • Has employee retention increased since you’ve implemented the new solution? By how much? How much has been saved on recruitment? How much has been saved on training costs?

Give your source a heads-up so they’re ready for your questions

Unfortunately your client source will often not be prepared to answer these questions because they’re getting all of their data after the fact. That can make getting those 'before' metrics difficult. Help them help you get compelling data by submitting your list of questions early in the implementation process, as soon as you’ve decided which metrics you want to focus on. That way, they know what you’ll be looking for and have time to collect the initial statistics you need. Convincing a prospect to select your solution in an increasingly crowded marketplace is hard.

By asking the right questions and digging deeper into tangible before-versus-after statistics, you can get the powerful data for an IT enterprise software case study that convinces the audience to invest in your solution.

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