This month we have a 2-fer. First are some tips on taking a consultative-sales approach to acquiring references, which Amdocs' Stef Porter and her team are using with great success to acquire marquee customer- references.
Second are some tips for a big picture strategy to address the social media explosion, from customer evangelist guru Ben McConnell.
Below are excerpts from my interviews with them.
SPRING 2007 CUSTOMER REFERENCE FORUM
Registration is about to expire for the Spring 2007 Customer Reference Forum. It will be held in Berkeley, CA at the fabulous Claremont Resort in less than two weeks, on April 23-25. We plan terrific presentations by both Ben and Stef, along with Hewlett- Packard's Billie Abrams, Dell's Martin Johnson, Oracle's Gayle McClary and other top reference professionals.To register for the event, please click here.
LOOKING FOR A JOB? LOOKING FOR A REFERENCE PROFESSIONAL?
Are a reference professional looking for a job or contract work? Or are you a firm seeking to hire an experienced reference professional for full time or contract work? If so, drop me a note (feel free to reply to this email). We are expanding our services in this area and may be able to help you.
STEF PORTER ON RECRUITING TOP-TIER CUSTOMERS
Q. Some reference managers would blanch at the thought of taking a more sales-oriented approach to reference recruitment. Is it true that selling means cold calls, applying pressure, and engaging in constant spin?:) Or is that just Hollywood's version (Glengarry Glen Ross, for example) of what sales is all about?
A. While selling can mean cold calls and such, references are customers – people we know. If we, or the account team, don’t know them, they shouldn’t be targeted as a reference until we do. It still requires basic sales 101:
- Do your homework to determine who you want to target.
- Learn what is important to them and understand their needs in this area.
- Get an understanding of what they can and cannot do.
- Develop a value proposition unique to their specific needs and discuss it with them.
- Confirm that it meets their needs and adjust as needed.
It is certainly more work than simply saying “here’s our program, do you want to join it”, but the rewards we get from our high-impact references are worth every bit of effort we put into this. Applying pressure and engaging in constant spin? Absolutely not. A client backed into a corner isn’t going to give a good reference so why go there?
To read the rest of the interview and provide comments -- on why many programs have trouble signing up references, her approach to rewards, and more on her consultative sales approach -- please click here.
BEN MCCONNEL: A STRATEGY FOR TACKLING THE SOCIAL MEDIA PHENOMENON
Q: If you're a marketing manager in a high tech firm, how would you map out a strategy to find and engage the citizen marketers relevant to your firm?
A: First, build a listening strategy. That may be a big step for companies used to dictating the rules. Understand what's being said on blogs, forums and social media sites and by whom. Rank the opinion leaders and their ability to lead conversations. After that, decide whether your engagement strategy will be out in the open or more reserved like shuttle diplomacy. The answer probably depends on the size of the company, the number of prospects involved and the company's culture. About the only rule to engaging the citizen marketers is: Each one is different. Treat them like
guests in your home.
To read the rest of the interview and provide comments -- on evangelism in the B2B world, whether and how to encourage your references to be evangelists, and how to avoid trying to control the conversation -- please click here.
WORD OF MOUTH BASIC TRAINING 2007
The third installment of WOMMA's original how-to conference series is going to New Orleans April 17-18, 2007. It will feature more than 50 expert speakers and two full days of practical how-to instruction and detailed case studies exclusively for word of mouth marketers. Here's more information about the event .