The Case Against Case Studies: Why They're Failing Your Teams

Michael Katz
June 6, 2023
5 min read

Compelling customer stories are the lifeblood of sales teams. 

They are the secret weapon of top sellers, enabling them to close deals without slides, and empower founders – who've never sat through a sales training in their lives – to outperform seasoned sales professionals.

And yet, reality is harsh: Many organizations are failing to equip their teams with this crucial tool. They may boast a library of case studies, but the content is falling short.

The magic in their best customer stories is missing. And as the market tightens, this issue is showing up in sluggish revenue growth and underperforming teams.

Why these stories matter

Stories of struggle build a bridge of empathy between your company and customers. They inspire trust & honesty during the discovery process, spurring customers to share deeper insights about their own challenges.

Sharing why specific customers chose your product, how they derived value, and their successful use cases can inspire trust and motivate others to follow suit.

When budgets tighten, stories become even more vital to overcome the “no decision” caused by customer fear and uncertainty.

Why the gap exists

Despite the clear power of stories, many sales teams are frustrated by the lack of impactful customer stories — even when they have stacks of case study slides sitting in internal systems. Some aren’t even complaining – instead, they’re suffering in silence and approaching conversations without stories.

The reality is the best sellers often aren't drawing their narratives from marketing case studies or website testimonials. Their founders sure aren’t.

Instead, they’re using insights gained from lived experience: conversations with prospects & colleagues, and observation of customers' interactions with their products. This reality leaves companies relying on employees to stick around and accumulate their own experiences & successes – just to become competent.

It’s a losing strategy. Team members get discouraged and churn out after generic trainings and limited personal successes. The stories that were once shared at the water cooler every day aren’t getting to the right people.

Does this mean today’s case studies are irrelevant? Not at all. They serve a useful purpose in providing website content, bolstering social media channels, and adding to your content repertoire. 

However, their effectiveness for sellers is curtailed for several reasons:

  1. They’re stripped of the best anecdotes, with Legal and Brand teams diluting the most compelling details - Authenticity often gets sacrificed in the pursuit of brevity, brand consistency, and risk aversion. The result? Generic stories that fail to engage prospects & stop natural conversations in their tracks.

  2. They’re designed for broad audiences, not Sales & Customer teams - Case studies are not only watered down, but also difficult for team members to find and leverage effectively in their sea of content.

  3. They overemphasize metrics over narrative - The story behind the numbers, which holds the real magic, gets lost in the race to display manufactured ROI numbers – which customers have grown to distrust. Metrics should support the narrative – not the other way around.

  4. They’re a time sink for resources you don’t have - Sourcing and creating case studies is time-consuming, often requiring involvement from multiple teams & the customer – causing them to drag on for months after deals are closed and successes are achieved.
  1. They only capture a sliver of your customer successes, with most locked in people’s heads or siloed –Your team members across sales, success, product, marketing, and leadership gathering vast insights from customer interactions every day. But most of these success stories & learnings remain untapped, siloed in one-off meetings, or diluted into sterile bullet points. Worst of all, they leave when your employees depart.

In a time where customers are hyper-vigilant and skeptical, your team needs quality stories to resonate with prospects on a personal level. The status quo no longer cuts it.

Change the formula

To unlock the power of your stories and replicate your best sellers & peers, your whole company needs to adopt a culture of storytelling and sharing customer successes systematically

This practice underlies Sales Success Acceleration – a strategy that goes beyond traditional and tired sales & enablement tactics and case studies. Teams must foster a culture where genuine customer stories are shared and leveraged to drive meaningful conversations with prospects.

Imagine creating a dynamic library of experiences that’s accessible anytime, anywhere, and by anyone in your company. 

A library that’s searchable and easily consumable in formats like text, audio, and video – the way your employees consume personal content today. And it shouldn’t be lost in a mountain of chaotic Slack channels and stripped from customer context.

It shouldn’t just be a tool for onboarding new members. It should also be a catalyst for enhancing productivity among current employees, preserving knowledge, and fostering collaboration among experts within and across teams.

Steps to take

Here are a few practical steps your organization can take to start:

  1. Develop a Culture of Storytelling: Encourage every team member to share their customer experiences and success stories – with a clear process.
  2. Build an Internal Story Bank: Create a central, accessible, and searchable repository for these stories. While email threads and Slack-based winwires are great for encouraging consumption & promoting winning culture, you need to pull these stories out in ways that make them findable later – even if it’s a spreadsheet.
  3. Leverage Technology: Use tools to record, transcribe, and share these stories across your organization. The technology should support multiple formats – text, audio, video – and should be easily consumable elsewhere. If possible, embed them into team members’ current environments to inform their existing opportunities & accounts.
  4. Make It a Habit: Regularly update this repository. Make it a part of your existing enablement routines – and if you’re an enablement or marketing professional, encourage sales, customer success, or delivery managers to share recordings of stories from their team meetings.

At Kawin, we’re dedicated to helping companies develop these strategies to boost their sales success. Our solutions aim to equip account teams with compelling stories for every customer – helping them build more pipeline and raise win rates..

Stay tuned for more insights on Sales Success Acceleration and how you can start implementing it today – with or without Kawin’s system. For inquiries, reach out to us at

Michael Katz
Founder, Kawin