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Reference Point
a newsletter for customer reference professionals
April 2010
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Executive-to-executive relationships are some of the most powerful ways to cement ties with key customers and develop them as references. C-level executives with a background in high-level consultative sales are likely to understand how to foster these relationships, but for those not accustomed to such customer interactions, here are some tips.

Particularly if your firm has an initiative in place to build these relationships at the C-level, feel free to pass these tips along to your C-suite.

TIPS FOR THE C-SUITE: HOW TO ENGAGE WITH C-LEVEL CUSTOMERS

First, understand the customer's predominant "behavioral type"
Different people respond to relationships in different ways. If you've been paired up with a customer executive, the best way to get off on the right foot is to understand his behavioral type. It doesn't require a PhD or handing him some sort of assessment tool. Skilled sales people can size people up quickly and do so all the time. Is she a Driver? Analytical? Expressive? Amiable? Here's a useful checklist. Different types respond to different approaches and have different emotional triggers. An Expressive executive, for example, loves the spotlight and will likely be excited about getting up on stage or in the media with his success story. A Driver may be ambitious to raise his professional stature, which can guide you in developing reference opportunities that will excite him. However, he'll also want any issues he has with your delivery resolved fast.

Understand--and care about--the customer's problems
Whatever the customer's behavioral type, building strong business relationships means nurturing the emotional component, which hard-driving executives at your firm may sometimes overlook. Nothing will stifle a budding relationship more than a customer's realization that you don't really care.

Provide value
As the relationship builds, provide value from time to time. Send a link to an article or blog post you come across that intelligently addresses an issue he's dealing with. Or a recommend thoughtful book. Put him in touch with relevant people in your network. But again, be careful in your approach. Few things are more annoying than an overly eager new friend who starts sending you things that are intended to be "helpful" but that only reveal he really wasn't listening to the issues you confided to him.

Don't get bogged down in discussions about the customer's problems . . .
This may seem paradoxical in light of what I just said, but demonstrating you care doesn't mean spending an hour going into the details of a problem your firm can't help him solve. That's a waste of your time and his. Demonstrating empathy doesn't require mastering details.

. . . unless the problem meets these tests:

  • It's serious
  • The customer--or one of her colleagues at her firm--is personally feeling real emotional pain as a result (frustration, worry, fear, etc)
  • Solving the problem would create a substantial monetary impact on the customer's business
  • And of course, it's something your firm could solve.

Build a rapid response network between your firms
As you develop critical information about your customer--their needs, frustrations, what delights them, etc--you'll want to respond rapidly and effectively. Is something frustrating them about your delivery? Fix it. Has a new need arisen that makes sense for your firm to address? Get your NPD team on it. Are they delighted with that new consulting offering you provide? Ask for a reference and then deploy your video testimonial or white paper team. A rapid response network should include executive peers from both firms, along with lower lever implementation people from both firms, together with regular communication and follow-up processes.

Ask for referrals
As you build the relationship, and particularly as your firm chalks up impressive results for the customers, ask for referrals--the most powerful lead generator of them all. "Who else at AAA Corp should I be talking to?" "Who else within your professional network (inside our outside the firm) should I get to know?"

Hope these help!

All the best,
Bill



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ANNOUNCEMENTS
- NEW GROUP: Join the #1 Club for solo reference program managers
- Join our Linkedin community
- Local meetings of reference professionals
- Jobs: Who's Hiring? Who's seeking a position?

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NEW GROUP: THE #1 CLUB FOR SOLO REFERENCE PROGRAM MANAGERS

Riverbed's Irene Yam came up with one of the best ideas at the 2010 Forum. Forming a community of solo reference managers. Their first meeting is on April 13 at 2pm PST/ 4PM CST/ 5pm EST. Here's some more information.

Meeting Format
Length of call will be an hour. A conference bridge will be provided. If we need to share a presentation or document, it will be emailed to the group before the call. By having a teleconference, this will ensure we start on time. Alternatively, we can set up a web conferencing session.

Agenda in Central Standard Time
4:00 to 4:05 Welcome
4:05 - 4:25 (Topic #1) What metrics really are important to me?
4:25 - 4:30 (Topic #1 Summary) *Optional - Would anyone want to volunteer to circle back to with the group with any future findings?
4:30 - 4:50 (Topic #2) How much time do you devote to social media?
4:50 - 4:55 (Topic #2 Summary) *Optional - Would anyone want to volunteer to circle back to with the group with any future findings?
4:55 - 5:00 Wrap-up and what should we talk about next time?

Kick-off meeting, Tuesday, April 13th 2:00 PST/4:00 CST/5:00 EST. The meeting will go a full hour. Please contact Irene Yam at irene@riverbed.com if you are interested in joining the #1 Club.
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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 next Boston Customer Reference quarterly meeting has not been scheduled. Stay tuned for information in upcoming newsletters.

The next SF/City Customer Reference Professionals Meeting will take place in April on a date not yet set. Please e-mail Christine Englund at englundcm@gmail.com for call-in information and additional details.

The next Bay Area Reference Group Meeting will take place May 6th in San
Jose. Meetings are open to senior-level customer marketing managers.
Vendors are invite-only and space is limited! Our agenda for our
upcoming meeting will include Cynthia Hester who will demo HP's online
community. Also joining us will be Craig LeGrande from Mainstay Partners
who will discuss best practices in developing ROI analysis. If you are
interested in attending, please send an email (and please include your
title) to amy.shever@sap.com.

JOBS
Customer Success Manager - Temporary
Autodesk is hiring a temporary Customer Success Manager who will responsible for developing a robust portfolio of customer references, as well as re.. Autodesk March 19, 2010

Sr. Customer Reference Manager
VMware is hiring a Sr. Customer Reference Manager who will be responsible for developing a robust portfolio of customer references, as well as refer.. VMware March 9, 2010

Sr. Marketing Manager Job
Come join Intuit as part of the QuickBase team as a Senior Marketing Manager. We are looking for creative problem solvers with a passion for innovat.. Intuit March 1, 2010

Customer Engagement Marketing Specialist
Projectline Ltd (UK) is looking for an enthusiastic marketing consultant to help our clients run early technology adoption programs, develop communi.. Projectline Ltd. February 11, 2010

Marketing Manager
Axeda Corporation is looking for highly motivated, team oriented individual to work with the sales and marketing teams to drive the overall awarenes.. Axeda Corporation January 14, 2010

European agency-side snr Customer Reference Exec -
An agency-side role, primarily working directly with an inEvidence client (a major Software company) you will be an integral point of contact for co.. inEvidence January 4, 2010

For more information on these jobs and to apply, please click here.

We can let our community of more than 1000+ reference pros know about your position opening. To post a job, please click here.


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