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March 2011 Archives

A Coming Revolution in Customer Relationships?

Posted by Bill Lee on March 30, 2011 at 04:48 PM

The historic popular uprisings that are sweeping the Muslim world, from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, spreading to Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, even Iran and throughout the Middle East may contain lessons for businesses. Why are people who've been oppressed for decades--centuries really--suddenly rising up throughout the region? Here's my take:

- People have unprecedented  access to information; their governments aren't able to control it. 

When a vegetable vendor in Tunisia had had enough of getting shaken down by a local government official, and set himself on fire in the street, the news and videos spread like wildfire throughout the region. People everywhere could see for themselves that other people like them were standing up to their government.

- People have unprecedented ability to communicate with each other.

They know that others share their feelings, frustrations, aspirations. I'll let Malcolm Gladwell and Clay Shirky work out how much of the credit goes to social media and how much goes to the more familiar tools of popular uprisings, but there's little doubt that social media tools were part of a fabric of communication tools that were essential to the political tsunami that is sweeping the region.

- In particular, people talk openly about government injustices

How many times do you suppose people throughout the Muslim world have repeated the story of what drove the Tunisian vendor over the edge? How many then related a similar story of their own, relative to their own oppressions from their own governments?

- People learn they have options.

That's the hallmark of freedom, and it looks like Jefferson was right, its appeal is universal*, despite those who insist that freedom isn't appropriate or even desired by come cultures, that for us to be in favor of such a thing is "imposing our culture on them." I've had this conversation with a former Exxon executive and an American lawyer who's worked for years for a Saudi prince--both thought that the people there were content with their monarchs and dictators. 

I'll talk about lessons here for business, in my next post.

*(Biggest exception I can think of: Russia. Folks there do seem to be mostly content with their inron fisted dictators.)


Customer Referrals: The Biggest Overlooked Opportunity?

Posted by Bill Lee on March 16, 2011 at 08:04 AM

From Reference Point newsletter, March 2011. To subscribe, please contact me (contact info is in upper right corner).

First let's me be clear on the difference between a sales reference and a referral. A sales reference helps a salesperson move a deal or close it with a prospect with whom the sales person already has a relationship. A referral is typically to a prospect with whom your sales people don't already have a relationship.

Now, why are referrals such a big potential opportunity for a lot of companies? I can think of 5 reasons:

1) Referrals create clearer impacts on revenue and firm performance.
If your reference helps to close a deal, she's just one of many factors so it's hard to quantify impact on revenue. On the other hand, if your referring customer brings your firm a prospect--particularly a new prospect--who's predisposed to think well of you, the impact on revenue is much more obvious.

2) Referrals create large impacts on revenue.
For mass market firms, good referral programs can bring in revenues that rival the revenues generated by customer purchases. For example, as I mentioned at the Summit last week, a telecom firm found that the value generated by referrals was about 80% of the value generated by customer purchasing. 

3) C-level referrals represent an especially great opportunity.
At the C-level, the prospects are even better. Major C-level customers want you to succeed--it means more funding, R&D, and support for the solutions they're buying from you. CXOs are thus already inclined to refer customers to you, if you build a trusting, high-mutual-value relationship. Just one referral a year that turns into a new customer would, on average, double the business you're getting from such a CXO.

4) Reference programs would be a natural to run or support referral programs.
You already have reference customers, many of whom would probably be happy to provide referrals to their networks. If you engage with Net Promoter Score programs (nearly 20% of reference managers are now responsible for their firm NPS program) then you have access to a whole lot of customers who say they'd refer you.

5) Your competitor probably isn't cultivating referrals
In our latest survey of Customer Reference Programs, 72% of respondents report that they don't have a formal referral program. And of the 28% who do, only 16% are tracking the value that referral customers create. Sixty three percent say they'd like to but don't know how. (If that's you, drop me a note and I'll point you to some further resources).


Citrix Systems, Intel Win 'World's Best Customer Video' Contest

Posted by Bill Lee on March 14, 2011 at 07:58 AM

Here's a look at the winners of the World's Best Customer Video Contest. They were announced at the recently completed 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement. They include the Citrix Systems video, "Citrix Innovation Award Winner - SNR Denton (formerly Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP)," and the Intel customer video, "DreamWorks is Setting More Records," which won in the category of videos produced at a cost of $5,000 or less. 

Accepting on behalf of Citrix Systems was Pascale Royal, Manager, Customer Success Marketing and accepting for Intel was Rhett Livengood Director, Worldwide Enterprise Solution Sales Development. 

Customer videos are exceptionally powerful marketing tools. Producing great ones is a fast developing field. We want to recognize—and learn from—emerging leaders like Intel and Citrix Systems. The winners provide important lessons: 

- First, producing great customer videos need not be expensive. The Citrix video was produced for less than $10,000 and the Intel video for less than $5,000. 

- Both videos excelled at telling the customer's story, the challenge they faced, the solutions that addressed them, and the value they received.  

- And they did so quickly. A business prospect who had no idea what Intel or Citrix Systems do would understand very quickly from the videos.

To view this year's winner for World's Best Customer Video, and to learn more about the contest including criteria for judging, please click here

For more information about the 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement.