Unleashing the Full Power of your Customer References

By Kim Glover

The right references, at the right time, can help your sales teams advance their conversations with prospects. Are you successfully optimizing your portfolio of reference assets to maximize their value to sales, effectively targeting the purchasing stage your prospect is in?

Have you considered:

  • The key decision points in the sales journey to leverage references with prospects
  • How to target the most impactful personas for account teams to engage (e.g., executives, managers, technical staff)
  • Which content type makes the most impact at which stage

Customer references can be inserted in a variety of buyer journey stages. How effectively are you using your existing customer base to help make the sale?

AWARENESS: Customer logos are likely the best tool here to show your credibility within your potential client’s industry. Research reports can also be valuable at this stage, sharing market evaluation, ROI reports, and even customer review sites like Gartner, G2, and TrustRadius which collect B2B technology reviews and aggregate customer comments. These sites have grown in popularity and are a great place to monitor how your company is standing up to your competition.

Note: these review sites are not just a great place to send your prospects. Consider asking your happiest customers to publicly publish a review or post comments of their own experiences with your company.

CONSIDERATION: Name drop with a deeper discussion surrounding sales situations/challenges your other customers (or your colleague’s customers) have solved with your solution. A robust win slide program within your company can provide an anatomy of a sale that will help your sales teams succeed in selling into others with similar challenges.

Win Slides can also be helpful if your internal process includes losses so everyone can learn from both what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. Keep in mind these references are never ok to use externally, but if the customer’s name is not recognizable and the details are not exact, these can be very useful talking points at this stage in the sales process.

If your company doesn’t have an internal win/loss slide program, you could be missing out on sharing valuable sales lessons with your sales force.

Not only are these incredibly useful tools to help overcome challenges customers might present, but they also have the offshoot benefit of giving you a solid lead list to pursue for external referenacability once the customer has had more time to implement the solution and have quantifiable benefits to discuss.

Think of this list as low hanging fruit for your candidates to approach for case studies and videos six months after their purchase.

DECISION: Case studies and videos (published proof on the value of your products & services – whatever that might look like) for the prospective customer to read/watch provide real life scenarios of clients in similar industries or locations, or even with the exact same challenge your prospect needs to solve using the same technology you are proposing.

A real-world proof of success can help move the needle on decision making and may instigate a Sales Reference Request where you can schedule a peer-to-peer discussion with your customer and prospect to sway the final decision in your favor.

DELIVERY & IMPLEMENTATION: Solution implementations don’t always run smoothly. Speaking with another company that had a difficult implementation but has successfully climbed the hurdle and come out on the other side shows authenticity and proves your willingness as a company to make things right.

Don’t be afraid to show the thorns that are part of the process – issues are inevitable. How you overcome them shows your trustworthiness as a company and can often help seal a deal.

LOYALTY & EXPANDED FOOTPRINT: Mobilize a community of advocates with Customer Advisory Boards (CABs), User Conferences, and other customer communities that encourage your customers to speak candidly with each other, helping to solve problems collectively.

We live in a connected world where peers can share information and feedback without much effort. Why not help them easily find a place to do that by creating the community and start off by inviting your most vocal supporters? This creates opportunities for your prospects to interact with existing customers.

Consider hosting in-person or virtual events or lunches where networking can happen with ease. Let your customers speak your praises to help build trust and provide genuine authenticity to your products and services.

Do you have questions on how to engage with your customers to help boost your company’s sales? Reach out to us for a chat! We love to talk “all things customer” and may have some ideas to take your program to the next level.

And, if you're just launching your program and want some powerful tips to get started, read this article to add some fuel to your fire!

About the Author

Porter Consulting’s seasoned marketing professionals are ready to help push your business to the next level. Contact us at info@porterconsulting.net today!