Prime picking time!

Somehow this week flew by and I just realized that it’s already Friday and I hadn’t posted anything yet.

With another quarter completed you now have or should have a whole new list of customers to chase – and hopefully that list is long. If you haven’t already been talking to your Sales team about getting customer references, now is the time because they probably aren’t pulling their hair out this week since it’s a new quarter.

You now have two tasks…

1 – talk to Sales and see what accounts they won over the past quarter (if you don’t already know)

2 – get it in their head that you won’t leave them alone until you get a press release, case study, media opportunity, logo usage, name usage, etc. out of some of their customers.

It may take a while for the customer to deploy or install or do whatever they have to do to your product to get it up and running/used, but the sooner you have the Sales person asking for stuff, the better chance the customer will agree to it.

So get out there and start bugging your Sales people!

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Types of customer references

Doing a quick search on the Internet for blogs regarding customer references, I noticed that a majority of them ask how to find a reference for a particular software application or some other product. Most of these are from the perspective of the person (generally sales or a consultant) looking for answers for their customer/prospect. Very few of the blogs talk about how to run a Customer Reference Program and how to pull one together from scratch. I’m hoping to help answer some of these issues with this blog.

Types of customer references
When starting your reference program it’s important to realize the many different types of references. Start with basic 101…is this is sales or marketing reference? Although they might seem like they are the same and ultimately will affect one another, they are generally two very different types.

Sales references include:
Customer speaking with a prospect over the phone/email
Prospect wanting to visit a customer to see how the product works
Name dropping in a prospect call/meeting

Marketing references include:
Press release
Case study
Speaking with analysts
Speaking with the media
Website listing
Use of name and/or logo in Marketing material

In general, it’s usually easier to find a Sales reference than a Marketing reference for one basic reason…Sales references are generally not going to be made public. It’s that simple. Marketing references are used for..well, marketing reasons which means letting pretty much the world know that customer XYZ is a customer of vendor XYZ.

Because it’s a public reference, most customers will have to get approval by their Legal and/or Public Relations team if not more people. This extends the approval process and scares some people away as more time and effort is needed.

Rule #1: When using a customer for a public reference such as logo use on a Website or in a press release always get the customers approval at least once before doing so. If a customer has approved a quote and you want to re-use it, that’s generally okay. But for the first time usage, make sure to get approval!