An important and familiar marketing and sales tool is the customer case study. Customer case studies present an account of what happened and how you enabled a specific customer. They illustrate key learnings and chronicle a process and series of events.

Customer case studies provide potential customers with insight into how another company benefited from your solution/product/service. This type of tool provides credence to your capabilities as well as offers an indirect customer reference.

There is another kind of case that serves as a valuable sales-enablement tool—a use case.

A use case, often created for product development, is commonly used to capture functional requirements. A use case provides one or more scenarios for how a solution/system/product/service achieves a specific business goal. From this perspective, then, another way to think about a use case is as a usage scenario.

Therefore, with a little modification, a use case can be transformed into an extraordinary sales-enablement tool.

To create a usage scenario from a use case, you need to work from the typical elements included in a use case: defining the end user; the end user's business goal; the interactions between the end user, the solution/offer, and the goal that needs to be accomplished or problem that needs to be solved.

Let's examine each of these components a little more thoroughly.

What we mean by the end user

The end user is the person inside the customer organization who is going to use the product/solution/service. This is the person for whom the product/solution/service has been designed or created. This person may or may not be the ultimate buyer. There may even be other people who are part of the buying process, such as a C-level person or someone in purchasing. But for usage scenarios, the key person in the story is the end user.

Articulating the problem and the goal

A business goal suggests that you understand the business problem. Solutions are built to solve a business problem; through its resolution, the customer can achieve a critical business goal or outcome.

A business problem represents a concern that is affecting your customer's bottom line, such as customers are leaving us because our support processes are failing.

Your offer is designed to be the solution to this problem. And by using your solution/product/service, you can not only solve the problem but also enable your customer to realize a specific business goal, such as reducing customer turnover by 15%.

Defining the relationships between the end user, problem, goal and solution/offer

It's important to remember that a usage scenario is actually a story. Therefore, just as with any other story, you need to clarify the relationship of all the elements to each other. A good story includes a plot. A plot includes the "why" for the things that happen in the story. The plot draws the reader in. Well-crafted usage scenarios engage the end user and enable the salesperson to help the end user relate to the usage scenario to their very own situation. .

Tips for Creating Usage Scenarios

When writing a usage scenario to be used as a sales-enablement tool, focus on describing three key points:

  • How the solution provides value to the end user
  • How the solution works
  • How the end user and the solution interact

Remember, with a usage scenario you're stepping into the end users' situation and telling the story from their point of view. When you transform the use case into a usage scenario, you have the opportunity to name the case in a way that reflects the end user's goal.

The document you create should also include these two sections: a summary section with an overview of the usage scenario, and the conditions that need to exist for the usage scenario to apply.

Focus most of the document on describing the primary scenario and how your offer enables the end users to achieve their goal. End the usage scenario by describing what occurs when the scenario is complete and the end user has a successful experience.

Here are five writing tips to help develop usage scenarios:

  1. Be explicit about the scenario; be sure to describe the scenario and pre-conditions in a story format.

  2. Be clear about who the end users are, the problem they are trying to address, and the goal they need to accomplish.

  3. Write the use case from the end users' point of view. Describe how by using your solution/offer they can achieve their goal. The tone and feel of the story, and even its meaning, should be from the end users' perspective.

  4. Write in natural language. Avoid technical terms and jargon.

  5. Focus on only one scenario per case.

By creating usage scenarios, you can help the sale team engage with prospective customers and create a sales enablement tool that helps the salespersons position themselves and your company as knowledgeable about both the prospect's business problem and the prospect's business goal—and the role your company can play in solving the former and achieving the latter.

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is the president of VisionEdge Marketing. A pioneer in Marketing Performance Management, Laura has published four books and she has been recognized for her thought leadership, winning numerous industry awards.