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Reference Point
a newsletter for customer reference professionals
March 2010
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Reference programs are changing rapidly. The internet and social media in particular are changing the landscape, and opening up both big risks and big opportunities for your firm's sales and marketing efforts. How can you make the changes your program needs to take advantage of these opportunities and avoid the attendant risks?

A lot of folks left last week's 2010 Customer Reference Forum asking that question. They're excited about the new ideas they learned and about getting back to their offices to implement them, but worried that they won't be able to follow through with implementing them.  So it's a great time--whether you were at the Forum or not--to take stock on how to make important changes to a reference program successfully. It's a shame when passionate, capable marketing and sales ops professionals, brimming with great ideas for improving their program and making an impact on their companies, are stifled or side tracked in their attempts to do so.

So before jumping in to a change or improvement initiative, here are some tips to think about:

TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTING SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO YOUR REFERENCE PROGRAM

1. Avoid the strategic vs. tactical pitfall.
Start by taking your list of things you want to change and asking, which of these are strategic and which are tactical? Strategic items are the "what" you want to accomplish, tactical items are the "how" you'll get to the what. For example, "our team needs to build better and closer relationships with our references is strategic" On the other hand, "we need to host more face-to-face events for our references" is tactical. One of the best ways to derail a change initiative is to mix those two up. Start with getting clarity on the strategic items you want to implement. Then put together a tactical plan.

2. Put your strategic items to the test.
Just because you think they're great ideas, doesn't mean your boss or key stakeholders will. You'll need to open or re-open dialogue with them on your program's strategic goals, and the best place to start is by getting clear on what their goals are, first.

3. Work with your boss to identify key stakeholders to enlist.
They might include the head of global sales, your head of demand generation, social media programs, PR, AR, and/ or product marketing. Who can likely most benefit from new tools, processes, ideas in reference management that you've learned about?

4. Don't ask stakeholders what they want from your program.
Well, you can ask the question and you might get lucky with a specific and well thought out answer. But be prepared for a blank look or a very general and unhelpful answer. In any case, don't start the conversation with "we have this great new idea for our reference program that I want to tell you about." Trust me, it will get you nowhere. You have to prepare the ground first.

5. Do ask stakeholders what their priorities are.
For example, if one of your key stakeholders is the SVP of Global Sales, you need to get clarity on what her primary goals are--what she wakes up thinking about every day--that your reference program can have an impact on. This isn't as easy as it sounds, by the way. Once you're as clear as possible on her goals and those of other key stakeholders, then it makes sense to put together a first draft of your program's new strategic goals, to make sure they support those of your stakeholders.

6. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Before finalizing on new strategic goals
to pursue, prioritize. Which will make the biggest impact, quickly, and with a clear impact on objectives that are important to your key stakeholders and to the business. Start with just one or two of these. As the saying goes, don't move a hundred things an inch, move 2 or 3 things a mile.

7. Now you're ready for tactics, the "how's," to get you there.
And a critical part of this discussion should be "what things can we stop doing?" For many of you, it will be important to get away from "butler" services for your sales and marketing people--that is, taking phone calls and chasing down references for them at the last minute. It's time wasting, inefficient, and not the best and highest use of your talents.

Hope these help!

All the best,
Bill

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ANNOUNCEMENTS
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- Jobs: Who's Hiring? Who's seeking a position?

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LOCAL MEETINGS OF REFERENCE PROFESSIONALS
The next Boston Customer Reference quarterly meeting will take place in May, stay tuned for information in upcoming newsletters.  The next SF/City Customer Reference Professionals Meeting will take place in April. Please e-mail Lara McGurk at Lara.McGurk@SUN.com for call-in information and additional details.
The next Bay Area Reference Group Meeting will take place in April. If you are interested in attending, please send an email (and please include your title to amy.shever@sap.com

JOBS
Who's HiringVMware is hiring a Sr Customer Reference Manager who will be responsible for developing a robust portfolio of customer references, as well as reference materials, that accelerate the sales cycle and help articulate the journey toward cloud computing. The right candidate must be able to cultivate strong relationships with Sales and VMware customers to identify, procure and nurture strategic references. The position is based in Palo Alto, CA.

Intuit is seeking a Sr Marketing Manager to be a part of the QuickBase team in their Waltham, MA office. They are looking for creative problem solvers with a passion for innovation to join their team and revolutionize the way the world does business.
Projectline Ltd (UK) is looking for an enthusiastic marketing consultant to help their clients run early technology adoption programs, develop communications projects, produce customer success stories, and manage complex customer engagement programs in their London office.

Axeda Corporation is looking for highly motivated, team oriented individual to work with the sales and marketing teams to drive the overall awareness and lead generation for the company and its leading enterprise software of intelligent asset management and smart solutions in their Foxboro, MA office.

inEvidence, the customer reference specialist is seeking both a European agency-side Customer Reference Executive to work directly with an inEvidence client where you will be an integral point of contact for country contacts, with responsibility for the recruitment and development references across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
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.

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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