Why Running a CRP Isn’t Like Starbucks – and That’s Okay


Go into a Starbucks any day of the week and you’re bound to hear someone order some crazy concoction…a grande no fat, extra hot, double shot, low fat whip, two pump….you get the idea. Starbucks prides itself in giving you the exact coffee you want – no matter if it’s a plain drip with room or a twenty five word description of you coffee.

Running a customer reference program is similar yet can be vastly different from Starbucks. Although in both cases the customer/prospect may make a very specific request, when running a reference program it’s okay to not give 100% what the prospect is looking for. Sounds pretty crazy huh? Here are some reasons:

Set expectations: Let your prospect and/or sales person (whoever comes to you with the request) know that although you will aim to get exactly what they’re looking for, it might not be possible. Many times I’ve received very granular requests – even down to the area code! Seriously. When it gets that granular, I go to my next step…

Find out what’s the most important thing(s): We’d like to give everyone exactly what they want but it might not happen. After you’ve set the expectation, find out what the most important things the prospect is looking for. Maybe it’s the same type of deployment or someone with the same vertical yet the deployment doesn’t matter. Still, it might be the product deployed that’s more important. Find out exactly what’s going to be the deal breaker and work from there.

Get timing: If you have 3 hours to get a very detailed reference, it might not work. However, if you have two weeks, you might have time to get exactly what’s being asked for. The timing of the reference can make all the difference.

I’ve said over and over, running a reference program is about finding the most appropriate customer for each opportunity. That doesn’t mean it’ll always be a 100% match, but you can get close enough that the reference will be a great match.

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