a newsletter for customer reference professionals
What ELSE could
your customer reference program do?
The ways in which
customer advocates or promoters can improve your business are
almost limitless--and go well beyond providing traditonal
sales and marketing references. To stimulate your thinking,
here are some of the creative ways I've encountered where
reference programs are playing new, important roles that are
having substantial impact on business results.
Improving demand generation
Intel, for example, credits
well-designed testimonial videos and other customer content
for an explosion in qualified lead generation from their web
sites (a tenfold increase). Within a few years, the firm
expects such efforts to bring in 10% of all its new business.
The key to this growth is content from its existing customers.
- Building key-customer executive relationships
The reference team at a major software firm builds their
own relationships with such customers, often bypassing account
reps. It is not uncommon for reference managers to introduce
account reps to customer executives, rather than vice-versa.
- Providing a superior customer engagement experience
that improves retention rates.
SAS Canada credits its
integrated customer engagement efforts--which include a
combination of reference program, user groups, key account
management and communities--with restoring its lagging
customer retention rates from 88% to a near perfect 98%.
- Automating customer content generation.
number of firms including Hewlett-Pachard, Hitachi Data
Systems, EMC, Symantec and others are making rapid progress in
automating creation of highly effective yet relatively
inexpensive customer marketing content. And they're getting
much of the content from "the other 90%" of customers who
don't participate in ordinary reference activities.
- Improving early adapter rates.
enterprise software firm's customer reference program recruits
key customer references into product upgrade launches. The
result has been substantial improvements to new product
- Helping to launch "solutions selling"
One of the most lucrative and difficult
transitions a firm can make is from selling products to
mid-level technology users to selling solutions to senior
decision-maker buyers. A mid-sized engineering software firm
is making this transition and its customer reference program
is playing a key role in the process. For example, they are
using case study development to uncover the financial impact
of products on current customers, extract the competencies
needed to achieve such impacts, and then use that knowledge to
train the firm's sales people to sell solutions to higher
level executive buyers.
- Improving strategy through
engagement with executive customers
key-customer executives can be particularly lucrative for B2B
firms. Studies by the Geehan Group show that firms that
specifically target decision makers in customer engagement
programs achieve customer retention rates of 90% (vs. 72% for
those who don't) and account growth of 12% (vs. 4%).
Most remarkably, customer executives who are so engaged are
far more likely to participate in referral activities: 94% vs.
28%. Reference programs can clearly play a vital role in
developing these relationships, as for example, CA
Technology's Flagship program does.
- Improved R&D
and new product development
By skillfully engaging in
strategy discussions with key customer executives on its
Executive Advisory Boards, Harris Broadcast was able to
generate 50% of its revenue from products developed during a
difficult 24-month period when the economy was tanking.
- Gaining greater penetration into existing customer
Reference programs can provide considerable value
by getting referrals to other key users of their firm's
solutions, developing relationships with them, and encouraging
them to join the reference program as well. These sorts of
referral relationships don't have to stop with acquiring new
references. Why not uncover new buyers while you're at
These are just a few of the creative ways that
customer references and reference programs are helping firms
What are some creative new ways
your reference program might make a major impact on your
business? By the way, feel free to share these with me and
we'll let the community know.
All the best,
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- 2011 SUMMIT ON CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT: Hold the Date
- ONSITE WORKSHOPS
- NEW WHITE PAPER: Transforming a Customer Reference Program
- Join our Linkedin community
meetings of reference professionals
- Jobs: Who's Hiring?
Who's seeking a position?
2011 SUMMIT ON
March 1-2, 2011
San Mateo, CA,
the date. We're expanding our premier event for Customer
Reference and other Customer Engagement Professionals to
include keynotes by leading executives and thought leaders in
the profession, together with in-depth tracks on Customer
Reference Programs, Communities and Social Media, and Customer
Advisory Boards and Executive Forums.
Plan to join
your peers from many of the leading B2B firms in the
* Network, build relationships, and learn best
practices from your peers.
* Get answers to your toughest
challenges from experienced reference pros.
* Learn how
leading firms integrate their reference, communities, social
media and advisory board programs for maximum leverage.
Learn how to get budget, resources and respect from senior
* Learn about vendor offerings in a no-sales,
* Just getting started? We'll
have a special track for you.
. . . and much
Registration will open later this month. To keep
informed as our plans progress, please drop me an email (you
can reply to this) with "keep me informed of the 2011 Summit"
in the subject line.)
Is it time to take your customer reference
program to the next level? Having trouble getting there?
Bill Lee brings Customer Reference Forum's knowledge, research
capabilities, and the most extensive network of reference
professionals and suppliers in the world, onsite to you.
Currently we're offering two workshops (with more on the
- Building a Just-in-Time Reference
- Bringing Customers Into Your Social Media and
Lead Generation Efforts
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 330+ members. If you're not a member, join us
- just reply to this email "sign me up for your Linkedin
community" in the subject
LOCAL MEETINGS OF REFERENCE PROFESSIONALS
For the Boston Customer
Reference quarterly meetings schedule, please check
with Kara Manfredi for updated information, at karaManfredi@deltek.com
To follow and attend the San Francisco/Silicon
Valley Customer References Council, you can go to their
new LinkedIn community site (just copy and paste "San
Francisco/Silicon Valley Customer Reference
into the LinkedIn search engine for
For the next Bay Area Reference Group
Meeting please send an email (and please include your
title) to email@example.com.
For information on who is
hiring and to apply, please click
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reference pros know about your position opening. To post a job
(for now, this service is free), please click
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