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    Issue 37

    July 19, 2020


    When customers say no to a case study

    Priceless sales & marketing advice, fast & at no cost

    Avoid board meeting boredom 


    Let’s get right to it, friend.

    In today’s Driven

    • What to do when key customers say no to a case study
    • How to get priceless sales and marketing advice fast and at no cost
    • How to make board meetings more productive

    Your reading time

    It should take you only 5 minutes to read today’s entire issue. That’s at a rate of 200 words per minute.


    What to do when key customers say no to a case study

    When you sell high-end SaaS to big companies, you’re likely to face a common problem.

    Some of your best customers won’t let you publish anything about how they’re using your product.

    They may not even let you mention their name.

    So how can you share the story of the value you’ve helped them create?

    The situation is especially urgent and frustrating for companies that have few customers and low brand awareness.

    One alternative is to publish anonymous case studies.

    The idea is to tell the story of your customer without naming them.

    To understand the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of publishing anonymous case studies, see this article on the Driven blog.

    You’ll also read recommendations for how to reduce the risks.


    How to get priceless sales and marketing advice fast and at zero cost

    This tip applies equally to CEOs, chief revenue officers, sales or marketing leaders. It’s also useful for sellers, marketers, or sales development reps (SDRs).

    Whether you’re new in your job or you’re looking for new ideas and perspectives, your best source of insights is available to you at no charge.

    And you need no one’s approval to seek it.

    Here’s how it works, in a nutshell:

    You contact potential buyers of products or services like the ones your company offers.

    Then you you ask them for their advice.

    Let’s take a closer look.

    1. On LinkedIn, you identify people who fit your ideal customer profile and your buyer persona.

    You contact about 30 of them using LinkedIn Inmail, LinkedIn messaging, or regular email.

    2. You explain that you’re new in your role, and you’re looking for industry insights.

    3. You ask them for 10 minutes to share their advice.

    You promise them these things:

    • It will not be a sales call.
    • Under no circumstance will you talk about your product or service on this call.
    • The call will not exceed 10 minutes.

    3. You make appointments with the first 12 people who agree to talk.

    4. During the call, you execute precisely according to your promise.

    You ask for permission to record the call.

    You ask them no more than 10 of your most burning questions. For example, you might ask “What would be the best way to approach you about an idea like this?”

    You get transcripts made of your conversations. (You can get this done at no charge through a transcription service called They offer a no-cost trial.)

    Then you summarize what you’ve learned.

    And you share your summary with your management or members of your team.

    You don’t have to drop anything else to do this.

    Work on it for as much time as you can give it – maybe a few hours a week.

    With the insights you gain from this kind of research, you’ll be miles ahead of anyone in your company who hasn’t done it.

    And few others, if anyone, will have done it.

    For more on how to do this research effectively listen to the Inside Selling podcast with Josh Braun. Episode: “Kevin ‘KD’ Dorsey on Cold Email.” June 21, 2020.

    Find the podcast on Spotity, Apple, or whatever distribution platform you prefer.

    For an overview of the process, listen to the show segment from [36:45 to 40:50].

    For ideas about questions to ask customers, listen from [13:00 to 17:45].

    For a complete account of how to run interviews of customers and prospects, download my guide here. [Downloadable PDF. 15 pages. No charge. No registration required.]


    How to make board meetings more productive

    Do you often participate board meetings?

    If so, you might try an idea to make them more interesting and productive for all participants.

    It comes from Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint.

    He says he borrowed the idea from Jeff Bezos at

    Here’s how it works.

    1. No one can show PowerPoint slides.

    2. Each team leader writes a section of no more than 1 or 2 pages. It summarizes the state of the business.

    Each section covers these topics:

    • Introduction
    • Things that are going well
    • Challenges
    • Plans for the future
    • Updates since the last meeting.

    It may include charts and graphs.

    3. The chief executive officer (CEO) provides an introduction and summary at the beginning of the document.

    4. The VP Finance attaches appropriate documents and reports.

    5. The CEO circulates the memo to board members before the meeting.

    6. During the meeting, board members comment and ask questions as the CEO reviews the document.

    Tunguz says this about the process:





    “Once you experience [the narrative memo], you never go back. Many of the companies I work with have moved to this format and it’s a radical advance.



    “Board meetings with written materials are better. They are shorter, more focused, more effective. There is no briefing section. No one reads slides aloud. There is no guessing what’s interesting to talk about because most of these meetings start with questions. . . .”


    How to Transform Your Board Meetings with Written Narratives.” Tomasz Tunguz. Tom Tunguz blog. June 20, 2020.


    That’s it for this week.

    What to expect in future issues of Driven

    With this issue of Driven, you may have noticed a few changes.

    I plan to make these permanent:

    • Shorter articles
    • Total reading time of 5 minutes or less
    • Fewer topics per issue
    • At least one article in each issue for both sellers and marketers

    If you want more depth on a topic, you can follow links to longer pieces online.

    You can also expect more consistent publication on Saturday mornings (New York time).

    For short updates throughout the week, follow me on LinkedIn

    I’ll be publishing short content to LinkedIn more regularly.

    If you’d like more frequent updates about ideas and resources I think are worth your attention, please follow me on LinkedIn.

    You’ll see stuff you won’t find here.

    Archive of past issues

    For links to online versions of prior Driven issues from 2020, please see the archive here.

    Please share this issue

    If you’ve found this issue helpful, please share it with colleagues or friends.

    See you next week.




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    When I provide links to articles from vendors, it does not imply an endorsement of their products or services. I link to them because they offer good content.

    I’ll make it clear when I’m recommending a product or service. 

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