Reference Point
  a newsletter for customer reference professionals
  March 2011


  1. Customer Referrals: The Biggest Opportunity Out There?
  2. Change Is In the Air: Thoughts on the 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement
  3. Onsite Workshops
  4. New EMEA customer reference community
  5. Links to job openings, local reference meetings

Customer Referrals: The Biggest Opportunity Out There?

First let's me be clear on the difference between a sales reference and a referral. A sales reference helps a salesperson move a deal or close it with a prospect with whom the sales person already has a relationship. A referral is typically to a prospect with whom your sales people don't already have a relationship.

Now, why are referrals such a big potential opportunity for you? I can think of 5 reasons:

  1. Referrals create clearer impacts on revenue and firm performance.
    If your reference helps to close a deal, she's just one of many factors so it's hard to quantify impact on revenue. On the other hand, if your referring customer brings your firm a prospect--particularly a new prospect--who's predisposed to think well of you, the impact on revenue is much more obvious.

  2. Referrals create large impacts on revenue.
    For mass market firms, good referral programs can bring in revenues that rival the revenues generated by customer purchases. For example, as I mentioned at the Summit last week, a telecom firm found that the value generated by referrals was about 80% of the value generated by customer purchasing.

  3. C-level referrals represent an especially great opportunity.
    At the C-level, the prospects are even better. Major C-level customers want you to succeed--it means more funding, R&D, and support for the solutions they're buying from you. CXOs are thus already inclined to refer customers to you, if you build a trusting, high-mutual-value relationship. Just one referral a year that turns into a new customer would, on average, double the business you're getting from such a CXO.

  4. Reference programs would be a natural to run or support referral programs.
    You already have reference customers, many of whom would probably be happy to provide referrals to their networks. If you engage with Net Promoter Score programs (nearly 20% of reference managers are now responsible for their firm NPS program) then you have access to a whole lot of customers who say they'd refer you.

  5. Your competitor probably isn't cultivating referrals
    In our latest survey of Customer Reference Programs, 72% of respondents report that they don't have a formal referral program. And of the 28% who do, only 16% are tracking the value that referral customers create. Sixty three percent say they'd like to but don't know how. (If that's you, drop me a note and I'll point you to some further resources).

All the best,

Bill Lee, President
Customer Reference Forum and Customer Strategy Group
Author of the forthcoming Harvard Business Review Book, The Hidden Wealth of Customers

Twitter (follow me)
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LinkedIn Community (connect with other reference professionals)

March 1-2, 2011
San Mateo, CA, USA

  • We had more than 160 attendees in the room, including several VPs, a terrific turnout. Customer engagement programs in general are going to be among the most important business initiatives of the next five years. Folks like you are right in the middle of this.

  • Speaker rankings were particularly high this year. We're completing the post event evals and will have President's Award winners for you shortly.

  • We had a VP lunch with several dynamic customer engagement executives, including Tom Wong of Salesforce.com, Asim Zaheer of Hitachi Data Systems, Leif Pederson of Siemens, Laura Ramos of Xerox, and Salim Ali of SAP. We had a terrific discussion about the future and the potential of customer engagement programs.

    That said, change is in the air. Our Advisory Board met during the event and we're planning some significant changes, reflecting the dynamism of this profession. Stay tuned on this, but here's some initial thoughts.

  • We're going to get more executives involved in these events--meaning your most important VP or SVP--the one who's passionate about customer engagement, and supports your program. We want to get them involved. We're going to provide them opportunities to speak and engage with their peers to share their knowledge, exchange ideas and develop best practices.

  • We're going to provide more specific training on enduring issues like getting executive support for your program, integrating and getting better cooperation from sales and marketing, developing more powerful customer engagement value proposition, obtaining key information like measurable benefits from customers, and more.


Couldn't make it to the Summit? Is it time to take your customer engagement program to the next level? Having trouble getting there? I can bring Customer Reference Forum's knowledge, research capabilities, and the most extensive network of reference professionals and suppliers in the world, onsite to you.

Learn more.


For practitioners only. Exchange ideas and best practices with peers, get your questions answered quickly, expand your network. We're now up to 380 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.


To get involved with the recently formed community of customer reference professional in EMEA, contact Claudia Koenig at referencecommunity@googlemail.com


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 Council" into the LinkedIn search engine for "Groups").

For the next Bay Area Reference Group Meeting please send an email (and please include your title) to val.stephen@acxiom.com.


For information on who is hiring 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 (for now, this service is free), please click here.

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Contact Information

email: bill@customerreferenceforum.com
web: http://www.customerreferenceforum.com