This is a continuation of the Content Marketing: What Really Matters? post.
B2B tech vendors, take note: To successfully support Sales in closing deals and hitting revenue targets, don’t confuse hype with reality. Despite all the talk about new forms of content marketing, when it comes to driving sales decisions, the most important collateral assets are still data sheets, white papers and case studies derived from customer references. At least that is what a recently published survey suggests.
We trust the people we know—and who know us—to give good advice. That helps explain the reason customer and employee referrals result in the highest lead-to-conversion rates for B2B sales.
Move over Brad and Angelina. Get out of the way Kimye. Take a seat Will and Kate. The hottest new couple (at least in business) is the CIO-CMO.
Customer reference incentives has been a topic that has ebbed and flowed since we began (2003) and probably before that. Initially nearly all of the companies we worked with felt that sending a logo-ed shirt, jacket, portfolio, golf balls, etc., was the way to say thank you. Many programs shared formal incentive plans with customers. The incentives had tangible economic value (e.g., product/service discounts, user conference passes, enhanced service levels, etc.). When Finance departments got wind of these incentive programs they required programs to start budgeting for the total amount of current and anticipated incentives. That was a daunting budget number in some cases.
I recently read a blog post by Jeri Ledford entitled, 5 Ways to improve CRM Adoption. While the article has a lot of food for thought, as a customer reference evangelist, I’m drawn to one sentence: “A CRM system is a tool, but CRM—customer relationship management—should be part of the corporate culture.” This is at the heart of CRM success and, specifically, customer reference management.
An interesting Salesforce.com blog post by guest Adrian Davis caught my eye recently. With the uplifting title, 3 Reasons Why Your Sales Enablement Efforts Will Fail, how could I resist finding out more? After all, my company is in the business of helping other organizations succeed by automating the entire customer reference management process.
There are so many ways to assess the success of a customer reference/advocacy program. Some programs are very content-centric. Some are designed to serve Sales first and foremost, everything else is gravy. Some only focus on North America with modest support globally. Many have a broad scope (reference requests, communities, content, advisory boards) and others are laser focused. So how do you decide which ones to emulate if you’re starting a program or revitalizing a program and looking for best-in-class? I offer these considerations: [Read more →]
Dreamforce 2014 has wrapped up with a bang and a host of new products. Marc Benioff’s vision of world connectivity, mobility and collaboration seems to be on a fast track, and the customer advocacy programs world is walking in lock-step from where we sit as the developers of ReferenceEdge. His keynote theme, the Internet of Connected Customers, certainly resonates with us.
We see it all the time. The excitement of a new customer reference program launch. Sales, PR, AR, social media and investor relations see relief from the often fruitless search for reference customers. There’s lots of buzz and a rush to build out the customer reference pool to it’s optimum level. This is the honeymoon period for a program, which lasts for about 2-6 months. Then the inevitable question: Is it making a difference?
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