Introducing Customers to Your Reference Program

Dec 23, 2010

Introduce the subject of referencing to your customers. Ask if you can use their company name and logo on your website. Can they provide a brief quote for a news release announcing their organization as a new customer of yours?

Most interviewees agreed it was difficult or impossible  to persuade a company to participate if it prohibits vendor reference activities; however, several pointed out that exceptions are made – a potential award winning installation or a significant ROI story of interest to your client’s investors can be pitched as an exception to corporate communications.

Although the data was based on a limited number of interviews, it appears that private companies have more leeway to act and more to gain from positive PR through CRIs.

If larger publicly-held customers balk at serving as references, focus on small to midsize private organizations first because they might quickly grasp the benefits of positive publicity. Smaller companies are potentially more nimble and unencumbered by multiple layers of bureaucracy. Strive for quick reference approvals.


Reference Program First Steps

Dec 20, 2010

Start thinking about your customer reference program well before you launch your company, a new product or service. Personal relationships are the key to winning over your first group of customer references. However, as the company grows, this will likely change.
Even if your organization has been in business for years it is never too late to structure the reference process. Persuade C-level executives including the CMO, vice president of sales and marketing to publicly support customer reference initiatives. Their imprimatur adds the leverage you need to win over sales and consulting teams who otherwise might not be willing to put forth the effort required to cultivate references. Set up a database with searchable comment and date fields to ensure your reference customers are not overused. Make the case to management for referencing ROI
— references mean higher revenues. According to Frederick Reichheld (2003), the key marker for a successful organization is the percentage of customers willing to act as references.