a conversation with...
MaryAnn Rains
Customer Advocacy Marketing Manager
Could you describe your program?NAVEX began a customer advocacy program in 2019 when the business scaled to the point where the team needed a proactive, rather than a reactive approach. Customer Advocacy and Events is on the Corporate Marketing team and is comprised of three members. We have key administrative stakeholders in Sales Operations, Business Systems, and our International Marketing team.

One of the motivators to start a formal customer reference program was to support the bandwidth of our Sales Operations colleague who was pulling custom reports for sellers upon request. This wasn’t efficient or effective for any party involved. Sales Ops had to change their focus on a dime to prioritize requests, the seller didn’t know if the customer could say yes or would be available, and the customer wasn’t sure what they were saying “yes” to.

We transitioned to ReferenceEdge in 2022 to help us run a more data-informed program that’s Salesforce-native to help with adoption. We had a phased approach for our implementation, first training our recruitment stakeholders (Customer Success, Product, Marketing), then onboarding our Sales team.
Who are your internal
We have a robust ecosystem of stakeholders to drive recruitment and adoption throughout the organization. We invested significant time building out relationships around the organization to ensure the program is aligned and mutually beneficial.
- Managers & Leaders: reinforcing process and seller accountability
- Leadership & Development: training support
- Account Executives: reference requesters and nominations from Farmers
- Retention Account Managers: connectors to renewing customers
- Sales Operations: supports the matching process for managed reference requests
- Solution Engineers & Product Specialists: reinforcing the program in conversations with sellers and customer nominations
Customer Success
- Customer Support Managers: nominate and manage requests for their customers
- Professional Services & Implementation: connectors to happy, knowledgeable customers
- Product Marketing: alignment on product strategy
- Marketing Analytics: support with dashboards
Business Systems: support in configuring ReferenceEdge within Salesforce
- Product Managers: nominating customers who are a part of Early Adopter Programs or advisory boards
What were your top
3 challenges before
1. User Adoption: We had a challenging time getting our requesters to utilize the processes and systems, opting to connect with one another directly to find references instead
2. Seeing Gaps: We didn’t have a good pulse on where we needed to run targeted campaigns to address gaps in our current customer references, making the program reactive to last-minute requests
3. Influenced Revenue: We couldn’t speak to the ROI on our program and efforts
Since launch, what has changed in terms of your
company’s reference
ReferenceEdge is very accessible for our stakeholders, given the seamless UX with Salesforce. We benefit from having our CSMs more involved in reviewing and approving reference requests, given their strong relationships with customers. We’re also able to see program activity through reports and dashboards to drive our team’s strategies and build momentum and competition among our users. We’re empowering team managers with curated dashboards so they can see who is using the system with a leaderboard and who isn’t. Thanks to the dashboards, we can also speak to our KPIs and influenced revenue more accurately, which is getting more visibility than we could have imagined prior to implementing.
Since launch, how has your job changed?Since implementing ReferenceEdge, I’ve had the opportunity to focus my role more on strategy and training to support our Customer Reference Program and other sales supporting activities. Where I used to spend my time reactively responding to requests or pulling data from various sources, I can more easily provide that same level of support for requests while also freeing up time to think and work proactively to strengthen our program.

In addition, peers and leaders across Sales and Customer Success see the program as more user-friendly and engrained into our existing processes. As a result, we are now seeing improved success in training and adoption compared to our previous solution, especially when nominating customers for the program.
What feedback have you gotten from stakeholders? Leadership?A few of the testimonials we’ve received from stakeholders:
Retention Manager: “ReferenceEdge allows RAMs to identify happy customers upon renewal, providing Sales with a trusted list of well-vetted references, while delivering world-class customer service. The Customer Reference Program shows how cross-department collaboration drives NAVEX’s success.”
CSM: “ReferenceEdge makes it simple to nominate customers with just a few clicks of a button. CSMs can quickly review and approve a reference request from Sales, and I love that we can track how often they’ve been contacted or when they were last utilized. This is a great value add for our collaborative efforts!”
Executive Sponsor, Sales: "As executive sponsor for the Customer Reference Program, I see the ReferenceEdge tool as a strategic advantage for selling at NAVEX. There's an immeasurable value behind prospects hearing from their peers that NAVEX is the real deal, in addition to hearing it from us. Using this system in a timely way and sharing nominations to continually fill the reference pipeline that supports all of our deals enables us to remain customer-centric."
We recently gave our first presentation on ReferenceEdge to our executive team and they were impressed with the customer-centric approach and dashboards.
What aspects of ReferenceEdge do you value the most?To date, we have dedicated a lot of our time and training to educating our sellers on how they can help fuel our Customer Reference Program through nominations. By utilizing the nomination feature and automated notifications that encourage sellers to consider nominating customers after an opportunity has closed, we’ve seen a drastic increase in the number of nominations received and the quality of nominations. We have not yet run campaigns for nominations, but intend to in the future.

By using the Peer-to-Peer capability to enable CSMs to review reference requests, we have not only freed up bandwidth of our Reference Managers but have also strengthened the bridge between our CSMs and AEs. By bringing CSMs into the reference request review, we’re able to more accurately judge and review reference requests by using their deep insight into the customer’s experience. This improvement has been very well received across our leadership as well.
How do you measure program success?Our formal KPIs are based on influenced revenue and the number of approved nominations. Informally, we’re looking at overall program activity; including the number of nominations submitted, the number of requests submitted, and the average time for reference request completion. We’re in the process of developing our baseline, which will help us be more sophisticated in our success measurement over time.
How does Point of Reference service compare with other vendors with whom you work?We can’t say enough about the implementation process and ongoing support. When looking for a customer reference solution, we were looking for a tool as well as best practices advising. We’re grateful for the responsiveness to inquiries, the support as we learn and our program grows, and best practices guidance to ensure we’re on target.
Our account director is incredible! She is so responsive to our questions and shares helpful feedback to keep us progressing. We meet on a weekly basis to ensure we’re utilizing the right features and reports. While implementing, our Business Systems colleague mentioned this was the smoothest implementation she’d experienced, thanks to the very knowledgeable team. We are so thankful for the dedicated support.