Customer Reference Blogs Worth Reading

In my last #crlp post I said to talk to other folks who are focused on customer references.  To give you a head start, below is a list of some other blogs that are definitely worth a read!  Thanks to the Customer Reference Knowledge Sharing Network for collecting this list of blogs.  Happy reading!

Converational Chaos by Lisa Hosel: http://conversationalchaos.blogspot.com/

Cubed Consulting Blog by Umang Shaw: www.cubedconsulting.com/blog/

Marketing Musings by Anika Lehde, Corey Mahoney, Eric Larson (Projectline): www.projectlineinc.com/blog

Reference Geeks by Melissa Talbot and Robin Hamilton: www.referencegeeks.com/

Reference Management Insider by Barbara Krasner: http://referencemanagementinsider.blogspot.com/

Reference Point by Bill Lee: http://blog.customerreferenceforum.com/

Reference Success by Josh Horowitz (Boulder Logic): http://referencesuccess.com/

Stories that Sell by Casey Hibbard: www.storiesthatsellguide.com/blog/

WriteSpark Case Study Insights by Janice King: http://writinghightech.typepad.com/writespark/case-studies/

Customer Reference Insights by David Sroka and Darren Smith (Point of Reference): www.customerreferenceinsights.com

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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!