Experience Data should support each tombstone. Before we get started, if you do not understand what client tombstones are please read our prior post Winning Tombstones which discusses the origin, design styles, and information alternatives for experience tombstones.
Most professional service firms use some sort of visual representation of client logos with text explaining the service provided, some industries call them tombstones, while others call them cards or briefs. At Pitchly we serve a broad range of professional service firms from industries as diverse as: accounting, real estate, legal services, retained search, communications and PR, investment banks, and the list goes on. Client tombstones are a useful first step but often lack the level of detail required to sign an experience-wary prospect, which is why providing additional information about the experience from a trusted database or case study is crucial. If a prospect questions a tombstone, encourage questions about the experience and when they bite feed them data!
“If the prospect sees a tombstone and bites, feed them data”
We have assembled a list of Tombstone + Database best practices to ensure you are well prepared to represent each Tombstone presented to a prospective client.
Client Tombstones should be accurate and grounded in fact
This is obvious – don’t lie about your experience – but less obvious is if the experience was completed: more than 12 months ago; and/or without your involvement; and/or by a departed team member. Situations like the latter can quickly lead to a loss of credibility in the eyes of a prospect if straightforward questions cannot be answered because “it was advised by a departed partner”. It is incredibly important if you are representing experiences more than 12 months old or experiences that were completed by a now departed partner that a corresponding database record exists for each tombstone, and has a direct audit trail to the tombstone in use. The next item explains how to achieve this.
Practical ways to integrate tombstones to an experience database
The most common way for a database record to be linked to a tombstone is a direct insertion of the client tombstone image into the software that contains your experience database. In some products (Excel and Access) this is more challenging than others but it is an important step in accurately representing your experience. Alternatively, assign a team member to maintain a tombstone master list and experience database master list, who can verify the accuracy of information displayed on each tombstones with the relevant experience database record.
Not to show off, but Pitchly does a superb job of solving this problem for our customers by recording a dynamic tombstone for each experience saved in a customer’s experience database.
Client Tombstones should be dynamic
Client Tombstones are not a set and forget piece of marketing content. Tombstone designs evolve as firm branding changes and the information displayed on a tombstone should be representative of each unique opportunity. Obviously tombstones presented together should be consistent in nature, so having a library of tombstone alternatives for different experience and client types is important. A database makes creating and maintaining this library easier because each new variation is grounded in fact and can be directly attributed to a experience record.
Pitchly uses tombstone templates which allows users to create an unlimited number of custom tombstone designs that can be easily applied to a transaction record as needed.
If ambiguous, leave it out and implement a tombstone + database process
Our final recommendation is if your team cannot explain each tombstone that has been presented to clients in the last 12 months remove it from your marketing materials. In the short term this will hurt your “experience credentials” but in the long term your reputation of thoroughness and transparency will prosper.