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Reference Point
a newsletter for customer reference professionals
November 2009
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Over the past year or so, customer reference programs have matured and become more strategic at a rapid rate. Which is rather remarkable in a down economy, suggesting that as companies work through the critical process of figuring out what programs are important to their business, reference programs are part of the cream that's risen to the top.

I've collected some benchmarks stats - a lot of which will get the attention of senior executives including your CFO -  here and here.

Basically they show that:
- traditional lead generation and branding efforts aren't working for B2B firms, and they know this.
- there is growing recognition that what is needed is no big mystery: developing deeper customer relationships, or customer engagement.
- customer programs that engage decision-makers dramatically improve account growth rates, retention rates, and redeemability rates.

Customer reference programs are positioned to play a critical role in this shift in thinking. But the key is that they must not be regarded as stand alone "programs," but as part - an important part - of a broader customer engagement effort. Here are some specific examples of how reference programs are doing so, taken from last month's Summit on Customer Engagement:

- From what I've seen, Intel is leading the way in integrating its reference program, including its reference content, into its successful social media efforts. And with dramatic impacts. For example, between 2007 and 2009:
- the number of qualified prospects generated by Intel's social media activities has gone from 20 per month to 250 per month.
- average reference response times have gone down from 1-2 days to 1-2 hours.
- average page views of content, including reference content, has gone from 100 views per month to 10,000 views per month.

- In addition to the superb work Infor's Abby Atkinson does in showing how the very presence of customer reference programs improves sales productivity (and thus impacts revenue) she's not keeping data on usage of the Infor reference program by top sales people: in 2008 37% of Top Sales People (members of Infor's Circle of Excellence) used Infor's reference program. In 2009 80% of Top Sales People used the reference program.

- SAS Canada has integrated its reference program with its other customer engagement programs, including user groups, key account customers, and academics (a rich source of future customers). As a result, SAS Canada has improved customers' license renewal rates by 10%, which translates into more than $5 million per year in revenues. The integration efforts have also dramatically improved "customer engagement" scores, based on customer surveys, by some 50%. Also, SAS Canada's successful integration efforts allow a relatively small team to provide a far greater variety of customer promotional efforts than they'd otherwise be able to do working separately.

- National Instruments has implemented an important new role for customer reference programs: using them to help the firm transform its business from selling technical products to strategic solutions. The reference program uses its skills in developing case studies to develop Business Impact Case Studies (BICS) and Best Practices Scorecard (BPS) that help teach NI sales people on how to engage with higher level business buyers.

- Kronos is leveraging its reference program to attract strategic customers into its early adaptor programs, thus solving a common problem: over time, satisfied customer references who don't upgrade can't tout newer versions of a product or solution to sales prospects.

All the best,
Bill

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ANNOUNCEMENTS
- 2010 Customer Reference Forum
- Join our Linkedin community
- New Research: How Effective is Your Customer Engagement?
- Local meetings of reference professionals
- Jobs: Who's Hiring? Who's seeking a position?
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2010 CUSTOMER REFERENCE FORUM
March 2-3, 2010
Santa Clara, CA, USA
http://www.customerreferenceforum.com/event/

The premier event for Customer Reference Professionals -- and the only event not organized by a vendor in the space. Satmetrix CMO Deborah Eastman is keynoting, with presentations by reference pros at Hewlett-Packard, Adobe Systems, Red Hat and other leading firms. Plan to join your peers from many of the leading reference programs in the world.
- Network, build relationships, and learn best practices from your peers.
- Get answers to your toughest challenges from experienced reference pros.
- Learn how leading reference programs are leveraging social media and online communities.
- Learn how to get budget, resources and respect from senior management.
- Learn about vendor offerings in a no-sales, non-threatening environment.
- Just getting started? We'll have a special track for you.
. . . and much more.

Early Registration is now open
Featured Presenters

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JOIN OUR LINKEDIN COMMUNITY
For practitioners only. Exchange ideas and best practices with peers, get your questions answered quickly, expand your network. This recently launched community is already up to 200 members. If you're not a member, join us - just reply to this email "sign me up for your Linkedin community" in the subject line.

LOCAL MEETINGS OF REFERENCE PROFESSIONALS

The Boston Area Reference Professionals Group  The next Boston area reference meeting will be on Friday November 13th from 9:30-12:30, EDT at Dassault Systemes located in Lowell, MA. Topics will be a review of the 2009 Summit on Customer Engagement by Bill Lee, and starting a reference program from scratch, a review of Boulder Logic Software. If you are interested in attending this meeting please contact Kara Manfredi at karamanfredi@deltek.com. If you are not located in the Boston Area and would still like to join, please let Kara know as some members are located in other states. Attendees have the option to dial into the meeting.

The next Bay Area Reference Group Meeting will take place November 17th in San Jose. Meetings are open to senior-level customer marketing managers. Vendors are invite-only and space is limited!  If you are interested in attending, please send an email (and include your title) to amy.shever@sap.com.

The next SF/City Customer Reference Professionals Meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 18th at 3 p.m. PST. Please e-mail Lara McGurk at Lara.McGurk@SUN.com for call-in information.

JOBS

Who's Hiring

Quantum Corporation has an immediate opening available for a Public Relations and Customer Reference Manager in San Jose, CA.

DSI, is seeking a contract to hire Sr Customer Reference Program Manager at their Alameda, CA offices.

McAfee, Inc, is seeking the right candidate for a part-time contract position as a customer reference recruiter in their Santa Clara, CA offices.

inEvidence, the customer reference specialist is seeking amazing case study writers based in Japan (native Japanese speakers) to add to its global team. If you are an exceptional writer with a proven track record of creating customer reference materials for global technology organizations

For more information on these positions, click here.

Who's Seeking a Position?

Barbara Goldsmith is seeking a contract position, either part or full-time, in the customer reference field.  Barbara has 10 years of experience as a customer reference project manager outreaching to clients' customers in the high tech industry. Most recently Barbara has managed  the customer reference initiative for some of Oracle's recent acquisitions. Her experience includes outreaching to a client's customers, engaging  customers in reference activities such as case studies, success stories, customer quotes, press and analyst briefings, speaking engagements, etc. in support of particular products a customer purchased.  Customer reference opportunities showcased how various products solved a business problem, the benefit received, and cost savings to the business as a result. To see her resume, please click on her name.

Chris Jennings, who formerly managed i2 Technologies' customer reference program, is seeking a new customer programs position. During his seven years at i2, he facilitated over 1,500 references, enrolled over 200 of i2's 380 maintenance paying customers into the reference program and helped close nearly $75M in new business. In addition, he established numerous senior level relationships with many of the worlds best Fortune 500 companies. Chris is based in Connecticut and can be reached on his mobile phone at 203-895-2026 or chris_jennings22@yahoo.com. To view his resume, please click on his name.

Mary Olian, who formerly managed the client reference  program worldwide for IBM's InfoSphere brand, is seeking a full-time or consulting position. Mary is an accomplished marketing professional with expertise  in developing and executing marketing programs aligned with corporate  objectives across multiple organizations and distribution channels worldwide. She is known for leveraging persuasive communications with customers to secure their participation in reference activities, to help drive sales growth, demand generation, and brand awareness. Mary can be reached at maryolian@gmail.com. To view her resume, please click on her name above.

Laurene Price is seeking a consulting or permanent position in the Customer Reference Management field. Laurene's experience includes working with customers and sales teams to develop and maintain references, creating systems requirements for reference reporting systems, and acting as a point of contact within the company for reference data and policies. To see her resume, please click on her name.

We can let our community of more than 1000+ reference pros know about your position opening. To post a job (for now, this service is free), please click here.


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