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Reference Point
a newsletter for customer reference professionals
JUNE 2007
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How do you get your most prized customers -- those strategic, critical few that everyone in your firm, up to the CEO, wants as spokespeople -- to participate in your reference program?

That was one of several critical issues discussed and analyzed in the group discussions at our more recent event in Berkeley last April. Imagine having 120+ reference pros in a room putting their heads together on this and other issues! I thought I'd share some of their insights, from time to time, in this newsletter.

Here's one:

"Actively Research and Groom Your Marquee Reference Customers"

A Tip from the Group Discussions at Customer Reference Forum, Berkeley, April 23-25

"Participants at the Berkeley event agreed that Executive Sponsorship is one of the most reliable and effective methods of opening doors and fostering rich customer reference involvement, especially with big brand customers. Participants also noted that Customer Advisory Boards provide excellent vehicles for strategic customer-relationship building.

Leverage the account team, work with them, let them help you understand what the customer wants and needs and fully prep the Executive Sponsor before they make contact.

Loaded with a pre-developed customer "needs and wants" profile, an Executive Sponsor has a significantly increased chance of successfully establishing a relationship that is valuable to the potential reference being groomed. Participants recommended this approach highly over that of simply going in and giving the spokesperson a list of collateral and activities desired by the reference group.

It is critical to fully prepare before approaching the targeted reference. Make it a best practice to first fully research and understand what the customer has done in the past with other vendors, what they can and can't do - what the spokesperson, as well as the company really wants. If, for example, the customer doesn't do testimonials, but has previously published ads spotlighting their services with a minor mention of the supplying vendor, perhaps you can jump on the same bandwagon and work up a similar ad that flatters them, gives them the publicity they want, and gets your message across simultaneously.

Takeaway: The Person is the Reference, Not the Company

Many of the small group recommendations underline a common theme: in the experience of many reference pros, the spokesperson, not the company, is the reference. Many best practices for 'Getting Your Most Prized Customers to Participate' could be more accurately phrased, 'Getting Your Most Prized Spokespersons to Participate.'"

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ANNOUNCEMENTS
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We have 3 reports and 2 surveys now available on our site, filled with information from and about your peers in the profession.

We've also expanded our services in helping firms locate and hire top reference professionals, and helping reference pros find positions.

Here is some more information, below.

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REPORT: LEVERAGING CUSTOMER REFERENCES
120 reference pros who gathered in Berkeley in April, 2007 provide tips for addressing key challenges -- all revolving around the question of how to leverage your references. Issues addressed include: getting your most prized customers to participate in a reference program; getting customers to reveal measurable benefits; making better use of customer intelligence; developing customer communities; and integrating with sales.

For more information and to purchase the report, please click here.

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REPORT: BEST PRACTICES IN 3 KEY AREAS OF REFERENCE MANAGEMENT
Learn how leading reference professionals measure the value of a reference program; gain executive support for their program; and recruit customer references.

For more information and to purchase the report, please click here.

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REPORT: 43 TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR REFERENCE PROGRAM
Provides quick ideas and out-of-the-box thinking from experienced reference pros on issues such as making the business case for a customer reference program and scaling a reference program.

For more information and to purchase the report, please click here.

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SURVEY: CUSTOMER REFERENCE MANAGER CAREER SURVEY
Learn about the salaries, prospects for career advancement, and the strength of the current job market for customer reference managers. Learn also about their backgrounds, education and how they learned to manage references. This survey contains important information both for reference professionals and for hiring managers seeking to establish or ramp up a customer reference program.

For more information and to purchase the report, please click here.

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SURVEY: CUSTOMER REFERENCE PROGRAMS SURVEY
Learn how more than 70 leading reference programs are organized, allocate budgets and headcount, establish growth targets, interface with and incent sales, and much more.

For more information and to purchase the report, please click here.

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LOOKING FOR A JOB? LOOKING FOR A REFERENCE PROFESSIONAL?
We've expanded our services! If you are a firm seeking to hire an experienced reference professional for a full or part time position, please let us know. We can contact some 500+ practicing reference pros to let them know about your position. For more information about our services, please click here.


Reference Point is a Customer Reference Forum newsletter about reference programs and how to improve them. To subscribe, please contact me (contact information is below or just respond to this email). To unsubscribe at any time, just reply to this email with "unsubscribe" in the subject line. This email list and your name will never be made available to anyone else, not even to others on the list, unless by mutual request and agreement.



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