What are good sources of customer references?

Sources of potential new references are everywhere - your sales teams, professional services, support organizations to name just a few.  The source I'd like to talk about today is leveraging user group meetings.  We're in the season.  Be they small or LARGE, many organizations have gatherings of their users and it's a great way to have even more of your customers agree to be references. First off treat your current references as the VIPs they are!  Special badges so they stand out in the crowd, front row seats for entertainment, reserved seating, executive meetings, a thank you dinner: make sure they know you appreciate them.

Encourage them to recruit other potential references.  You might even have a friendly competition, which current reference can recruit the most new references?  Be ready with a sign-up table, know the data you want to capture, and have a sticker to add to badges to indicate they have just been recruited.  Your entire staff should be on the lookout for the stickers and take the time to thank your new references.

These meetings are also a perfect opportunity to capture video.  Get your customers talking, and really listen.  Sometimes that constructive criticism is even more valuable than a compliment.

What's your favorite way to recruit new references at your user meetings?