Events - details, details, details

We’re helping one of our clients plan a select customer appreciation event to be held at their annual user group conference.  As with many large conferences the event is in Las Vegas.  Couldn’t be easier to work with the people from the hotel, as we change details they’re very flexible and send new quotes almost immediately.   It’s a late afternoon/early evening reception with appetizers, should we have 3 or 4?  Hard to believe all the decisions that went into the final table and chair layout!  And our RSVP list keeps growing, nearly every single person invited is attending. Even for a 90 minute event project management comes in handy.  We’ve been tracking all the issues associated with customer and internal employee invitations and RSVPs; ordering and shipment of awards that will be presented; not to mention all the decisions necessary for food, drink, and entertainment.  Everything’s in one spreadsheet stored at a shared location  This has been a real necessity as the key decision makers are scattered in multiple states.  Putting some structure around this has made it easier for all involved.  At any time we can all check the current status of issues and action items.

For even a smallish project, when key players are all remote from each other, what works best for you?

Case studies - your customers tell your story best!

The success of your existing customers is a powerful way to tell your story to potential customers. Case studies leverage your past successes and validate the effectiveness of your products and services through an objective voice, in a way your other marketing pieces cannot.  Even B2B executives looking at the most complex solutions are influenced by the opinion of their trusted peers.  Case studies give a voice to your customers to enable this positive influencing to occur naturally. Here at Referential, Inc. we’ve seen a recent surge in demand for case studies from our clients.  We are able to leverage both engineering and business expertise to fully understand the business value our clients’ products and services deliver.  We know the right questions to ask to uncover quantifiable benefits and create compelling stories to help accelerate purchase decisions by your prospects.

Need a case study?  Give us a call!

People ask for the strangest things

“Let me get this straight, your customer wants to implement software using a methodology we don’t recommend?  And they want a reference customer who will tell them it’s OK?”    Yes, that’s what I heard the other day.  For several of our customers we do the ‘matchmaking’ of sales rep or marketing request to the customer reference which best meets the need.   Usually the request is for a customer in a similar industry, or using a particular product or product feature, maybe they want someone in a specific geographic area or a current customer the same size as a prospect.   In this case the sales rep had a prospect who wanted to talk to a current customer who had implemented in a way that’s specifically not recommended!   In the end we helped the sales rep realize this wasn’t a good idea, for many reasons.  He went back to the customer so implementation would follow best practices. 

Not only do we do reference matching but sometimes we need to provide guidance on strategies to overcome issues and keep sales moving forward.  But it really is true, people ask for the strangest things.

A problem solved is a reference created

A few posts ago I wrote about user group meetings being a great source of new customer references.  Another great source – your company's support organization.  You might think they mainly work with customers having problems, an unlikely reference source, but when a tough situation is handled well you have a new potential reference.  Learn about your support team’s success stories and follow up with those customers.  Sign up for the support newsletters and if possible attend their group meetings. Scan your support forums for customer advocates, they’re already speaking on your behalf and likely to happily join your formal reference program.  Look at not only company hosted forums but public ones as well, they’re a good source for references that can speak to the details of your offerings.

Many companies build a reference discussion into their maintenance agreement renewal processes.  Does yours?

Reward support reps as they give you reference leads or hold a contest for leads.  Your support team is a great ally as you increase your reference pool.  We tend to talk with sales, but think about pulling support into your recruitment processes too.

Any other thoughts on how to best work with the support team?