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April 2010 Archives

Announcing Onsite Workshops for "Just-in-Time Customer References"

Posted by Bill Lee on April 28, 2010 at 02:54 PM

This is an advanced notice for my online and email community--the public announcement goes out next week. For more information about these two new onsite workshops, feel free to contact me directly using the contact .

This year we've begun quietly offering onsite workshops to help firms quickly build more effective customer reference programs. The need is so clear that we're now making these more widely available. 

 The two workshops being introduced are:

  • Creating Just-In-Time Customer References, and
  • Customer Advocacy Online: Bringing References into Social Media and Lead Generation

We're also providing Customized Workshops for certain firms as well.

Why We're Offering Onsite Workshops

The workshops are for companies that need to either build, or retool, a reference program to have a substantial impact on the business. They can't wait for next year's Customer Reference Forum and they don't want to waste time reinventing the wheel. 

So we'll be bringing to companies onsite access to relevant best practices and leading innovations in reference management--based on more than five years of research, reports, interviews and analysis, and of course insights developed at the industry leading conference over those five years, Customer Reference Forum.

How Reference Programs Will Benefit From the Workshops

  • Develop exciting, high-impact initiatives for your reference program.
  • Focus on rapid implementation and business impact.
  • Gain immediate access to relevant best practices in reference management.
  • Align your reference program with your firm’s unique strategic needs--the key to executive support.
  • Gain industry support and affirmation for key initiatives. (It’s one thing to say, “We need to do this,” and another thing to say, “Industry leaders are doing these, and we need to as well.”)
  • Get enhanced access to other leading practitioners—customer reference or other related customer engagement or social media professionals.
  • Determine what activities you can STOP doing, either by outsourcing or discarding time wasting, low-impact activities altogether.
  • And of course, no travel offsite needed!

How Your Company Will Benefit 

Here are just a few ways we've seen over the years:

  • Create measurable increases in sales productivity.
  • Deepen relationships with senior decision-making buyers, gaining access to their rolodexes of peer contacts.
  • Foster substantial Improvements in social media marketing efforts, by providing more credible evidence from actual customers—often peers of prospective buyers—that can result in dramatic improvements in lead generation and branding.
  • Kick start PR efforts by gaining notice from media and industry analysts, who find customer evidence and testimonials more credible than corporate statements.
  • Improve the success of new product launches, by providing both the beta testers as well as the testimonials that are critical to their success.

. . . and there's more.

For more information about the new workshops, please contact me using the information above.

New Group for Solo Reference Practitioners: the #1 Club

Posted by Bill Lee on April 12, 2010 at 09:55 AM

Riverbed's Irene Yam came up with one of the best ideas at the 2010 Forum. Forming a community of solo reference managers: the #1 Club (aka "The Lonely Hearts Club":)  Running a customer reference program is sometimes a lonely occupation--particularly when you're a team of 1. Well, now there's no need to feel like you're alone. Their first meeting is tomorrow on April 13 at 2pm PST/ 4PM CST/ 5pm EST. Here's some more information.

Meeting Format
Length of call will be an hour. A conference bridge will be provided. If we need to share a presentation or document, it will be emailed to the group before the call. By having a teleconference, this will ensure we start on time. Alternatively, we can set up a web conferencing session.

Agenda in Central Standard Time
4:00 to 4:05 Welcome
4:05 - 4:25 (Topic #1) What metrics really are important to me?
4:25 - 4:30 (Topic #1 Summary) *Optional - Would anyone want to volunteer to circle back to with the group with any future findings?
4:30 - 4:50 (Topic #2) How much time do you devote to social media?
4:50 - 4:55 (Topic #2 Summary) *Optional - Would anyone want to volunteer to circle back to with the group with any future findings?
4:55 - 5:00 Wrap-up and what should we talk about next time?

Kick-off meeting, Tuesday, April 13th 2:00 PST/4:00 CST/5:00 EST. The meeting will go a full hour. Please contact Irene Yam at if you are interested in joining the #1 Club.

Tips for the C-suite: How to Build Relationships with C-level Customer

Posted by Bill Lee on April 12, 2010 at 09:41 AM


Reference Point Newsletter

April 2010

Executive-to-executive relationships are some of the most powerful ways to cement ties with key customers and develop them as references. C-level executives with a background in high-level consultative sales are likely to understand how to foster these relationships, but for those not accustomed to such customer interactions, here are some tips.

First, understand the customer's predominant "behavioral type"

Different people respond to relationships in different ways. If you've been paired up with a customer executive, the best way to get off on the right foot is to understand his behavioral type. It doesn't require a PhD or handing him some sort of assessment tool. Skilled sales people can size people up quickly and do so all the time. Is she a Driver? Analytical? Expressive? Amiable? Here's a useful checklist. Different types respond to different approaches and have different emotional triggers. An Expressive executive, for example, loves the spotlight and will likely be excited about getting up on stage or in the media with his success story. A Driver may be ambitious to raise his professional stature, which can guide you in developing reference opportunities that will excite him. However,  he'll also want any issues he has with your delivery resolved fast.

Understand--and care about--the customer's problems

Whatever the customer's behavioral type, building strong business relationships means nurturing the emotional component, which hard-driving executives at your firm may sometimes overlook. Nothing will stifle a budding relationship more than a customer's realization that you don't really care.

Provide value

As the relationship builds, provide value from time to time. Send a link to an article or blog post you come across that intelligently addresses an issue he's dealing with. Or a  recommend thoughtful book. Put him in touch with relevant people in your network. But again, be careful in your approach. Few things are more annoying than an overly eager new friend who starts sending you things that are intended to be "helpful" but that only reveal he really wasn't listening to the issues you confided to him.

Don't get bogged down in discussions about the customer's problems .  .  .

This may seem paradoxical in light of what I just said, but demonstrating you care doesn't mean spending an hour going into the details of a problem your firm can't help him solve. That's a waste of your time and his. Demonstrating empathy doesn't require mastering details.

. . . unless the problem meets these tests:

    * It's serious

    * The customer--or one of her colleagues at her firm--is  personally feeling real emotional pain as a result (frustration, worry, fear, etc)

    * Solving the problem would create a substantial monetary impact on the customer's business

    * And of course, it's something your firm could solve.

Build a rapid response network between your firms

As you develop critical information about your customer--their needs, frustrations, what delights them, etc--you'll want to respond rapidly and effectively. Is something frustrating them about your delivery? Fix it. Has a new need arisen that makes sense for your firm to address? Get your NPD team on it. Are they delighted with that new consulting offering you provide? Ask for a reference and then deploy your video testimonial or white paper team. A rapid response network should include executive peers from both firms, along with lower lever implementation people from both firms, together with regular communication and follow-up processes.

Ask for referrals

As you build the relationship, and particularly as your firm chalks up impressive results for the customers, ask for referrals--the most powerful lead generator of them all. "Who else at AAA Corp should I be talking to?" "Who else within your professional network (inside our outside the firm) should I get to know?"