Reference Program Manager
Could you provide an overview of the Genesys Customer Reference Program?
The global customer advocacy program supports Genesys’ global Sales organization, including LATAM, APAC, and EMEA. The program itself is located in North America and dare I say Canada because that’s where I’m based—but really everything is run out of North America is. Today, we operate under Marketing. That is a very recent change; up until about a month ago, we were under Sales Operations. Even though now we reside in Marketing, our sole focus is Sales. Our program lives in Salesforce because everything lives in Salesforce. Our sales team lives in Salesforce, and that’s where ReferenceEdge lives, which is awesome from my point of view.
Our program offers three different paths that our sales team can take to find and request a reference. The easiest path is through the peer-to-peer request feature in ReferenceEdge, where the account executive who owns the reference relationship solely manages the request. Nine times out of 10 times, I do not get involved in those. It’s the second path that I get involved in; those trickier, hard-to-find, one-off references for which you really don’t have a big pool; you might not have any. So those are the ones that I get pulled into. We then have the third path for when executive advocates are needed. Our Customer Engagement Team manages this type of reference request. Their responsibility is to foster the relationships that we have with our C-level contacts. So, our program goes from the simplest—peer-to-peer—all the way up to managing those C-level relationships. And they all factor into what we put into ReferenceEdge.
Who are your internal stakeholders?
As far as our focus, it’s Sales. We also have stakeholders within Marketing—PR, analyst relations; and the RFP team. For example, the RFP team itself does not use ReferenceEdge, so we made it the responsibility of the account executive to find references for RFPs. If they can’t find what they need through a Reference Search, the RFP team can come to the reference team, and we will work together.
What were your top challenges before ReferenceEdge?
Well, one major challenge was identifying which accounts we could reach out to at any given time, and prior to ReferenceEdge, things were housed in Excel files. We all know how quickly Excel files go out of date. You keep references in your back pocket and one day, “Oh, this company’s no longer a customer!?” I was still seeing that back in 2016 when I first joined in this role, and I said, “Wait a second—why do you have an Excel file when we have this really awesome tool that’s in Salesforce based on information that account executives and the Sales teams put into Salesforce?” People were like, “Oh, well, we don’t know how accurate it is.” I said, “Well, it’s as accurate as the information you put in. And more accurate than that spreadsheet—just sayin.” The information in ReferenceEdge is continually updated. The information that’s there is relevant, and it’s current.
Since launch, what has changed in terms of your company’s reference practices?
Since the launch, how has your job changed?
When I first joined, my responsibility was really to maintain the tool—so keeping- the information that was in ReferenceEdge and focus on the data that the account executives see. Now, my role is more strategic. The majority of reference requests are peer-to-peer, which allows me to focus on getting new accounts into the reference program to help take the burden off of those customers that are the “go to” accounts for everyone. It also allows me to help with the unique reference requests.
What feedback have you gotten from stakeholders? Leadership?
We have the buy-in all the way up to my VP level. Their thinking is, “Yeah, this is it—ReferenceEdge houses our reference information.” So, when anyone, anywhere in the company, looks for reference material, this is where find it, and this is the team they come to; they come to the reference team.
I know the sales leadership—they get it as well. The tool works for them. I jump on weekly sales calls just as a friendly reminder, “Hey, remember, the reference team is here for you. You know, we have this tool. We get you’re busy; we’re here to help you.”
When a request comes in, and an account executive says “Hey, I’m looking for this third-party integration”, I can say, “You know what? I have this, this, and this for you. And guess what? Two of them are in the tool. So, I’m now gonna walk you through how to find this yourself.” They’re hesitant at first: “Oh, but I’ve never done it before.” I tell them, “It’s okay. It’s easy. Let me walk you through it.” And then realize, “Oh, it actually is easy.” I use these opportunities to foster relationships with the account executives.
What aspects of ReferenceEdge do you value the most?
Beyond the peer-to-peer request feature, another unique point is the Influitive integration with ReferenceEdge we’ve had since 2015. I’m very happy to say that that the custom-built API that we’ve had starting in 2015 is now a standard integration within Influitive which allows transparency to our advocates as well as to our sales team. That’s a pretty exciting integration for us because we use a points system for advocates. If you do a reference activity for us, you earn points, and we’re always being asked: “How many points do I have?” Having Influitive integrated completely to ReferenceEdge, there’s no having to do anything twice. When it happens on one side, it happens on the other side. It is just—it’s absolutely awesome.
For our users, having no additional logins or credentials is key to adoption—everybody’s in Salesforce; nobody wants to have to remember another login; nobody wants to have to click another window when they already have something open.
The out-of-the-box reporting is awesome. For me, Salesforce reporting is complicated; I still have a big learning curve. But having those out-of-the-box reports is terrific. I can see the last active date on a specific reference profile and tie it back to revenue or see how many peer-to-peer, versus managed requests we have and all that stuff.
Another benefit is that ReferenceEdge is entirely scalable. We went through a pretty big acquisition in late 2016. ReferenceEdge was able to scale with our bigger sales team as well as increased reference accounts. I was very excited to see that we could scale, and it really wasn’t painful; that it just was a matter of putting in the parameters and it just happened.
I gotta tell you, the mapped attributes—100% valuable. It could not be easier to go in and see, “Hey, there’s a new picklist field I could use in the Search function. Oh, my goodness. Mapped—done.”
How do you measure program success?
Success is definitely assessed by the company in terms of revenue influenced. We measure how many wins have reference activity tied to them. Personally, I look at how many peer-to-peer requests come in that I didn’t have to support. It keeps growing each year. Another thing that we’re tracking this year is the number of [reference request] emails that go out—when we see someone send a mass email to All Sales, “Hey, I’m looking for a reference” and I think, “Did you really just send a mass email asking for a reference? Are you new? Get to training!” Everybody’s set in their ways sometimes. I know learning new software, whether it be Salesforce or changes to Word or Excel, some people don’t take to the change. So, when we see the reduction in those types of emails, that’s also a success.
How does Point of Reference service compare with other vendors with whom you work?
My account director is awesome. Every day, she goes above and beyond. When I send her those wacky questions where I think, “I feel I should know this, but I’m gonna ask it anyway.” She’ll never come back and say “Oh, well, on page 20 of the user guide…” No, she gives me the answer, she gives me a screenshot—it’s awesome. I have worked with the executive team for different things, most recently related to our awesome integration with Influitive. The team, as a whole, is also phenomenal. I’ve said this many times, and I’ll keep saying it, that they’re not just a vendor; they’re really a partner. And you know, my success is their success is my success again when I suggest a product enhancement and they’re like “Yeah, that’s pretty cool” and then it makes it into a release. They listen—it’s awesome.
Honestly, sometimes, even when a situation isn’t a ReferenceEdge issue, they still step up and provide suggestions. They might say, “Did you think of looking at this or looking at that?” And you know what? I hadn’t, because Salesforce is huge.
They help me, when a technical situation comes up, they put it into terms that I understand so then when I need to go to a Salesforce admin, I can ask intelligent questions. And not very many vendors will do that—if any. My experience has been, “Oh, well, sorry—we don’t handle that.” The fact that Point of Reference is there to support us is phenomenal.
We’re always looking for ‘How do we make it easy? How can we make it easier for our sales team?’ Providing the best tools for Sales to have easy access to success stories, to the database, to be able to sell and sell quickly. That’s our program in a nutshell.
We’re turning on ReferenceEdge content functionality within the latter half of this year, and really, truly giving our account executives that one-stop-shop. We are creating Reference content packages for use in Sales presentations. They will include talk tracks and links to any case studies or videos we may have with that particular customer. Our company-wide content is housed in Seismic today, and there is a lot of information to sort through. Sometimes all that is needed is the story of why an account chose Genesys. This content will give that information to the AEs through a platform they are in every day.
By using the reference content feature of ReferenceEdge, we will be able to set review dates for each piece of content. This will allow us to keep the content current. We are also able to control if we need to pull a piece of content based on the customer’s reference status.
In 2020, we are looking at doing more with ReferenceEdge through the Salesforce mobile app. It hasn’t been our focus, but I think once we get past the content initiative, I think the adoption of the mobile app is just going to skyrocket. Then they’ll have the tool at their fingertips anywhere.
We are also launching an integration of Gainsight with ReferenceEdge where we’re actually putting a process in the back end in Salesforce to keep reference statuses aligned with Gainsight health scores. Today, it is a manual process to update an accounts reference status. Right now, unless I ask, I have no way of knowing if a reference status needs to be updated. Gainsight is the tool our Genesys Advisors use to track the overall health of our cloud accounts. With the integration to Gainsight, we will be able to automate the reference status changes to a real-time automated process, by setting up rules-based logic on certain scores within Gainsight.