How Should I Measure & Report the Results of My Program?
Measuring and reporting the results of your customer reference program helps you know in what areas to focus your attention. Without measurements, it is much harder to prove that all your efforts are yielding the desired results, and that they have a direct result on the company’s bottom line. Our advice is to:
1. Start Early
Too often decisions about measurements and reporting are deferred. The ideal time to consider what you will measure is when designing your program, because it allows you to:
- Focus your investment on the results you intend to achieve
- Establish formality in the culture of your program from the start
- Ensure you are collecting data in the way it will be needed
2. Keep It Simple
It is easy to get carried away. Even when reports are automatically generated, they take time to review and too many can become distracting. Prioritize by thinking about the business decisions that reports will be used to answer, then determine the information you need most.
3. Evolve Over Time
As your program matures, different decisions become relevant. Don’t be afraid to reconsider what’s important and toss out what’s no longer useful. Even with an automated system, we often see too much effort going into compiling reports that are not actively used.
There are three basic categories of reporting that we recommend new programs consider:
These allow you to sort and segment your customers. One of the primary purposes is locating gaps in your portfolio. For example, having very few reference customers for a heavily promoted product can be a problem. Common dimensions for portfolio reports include: Solution/Product, Industry, Company Size, Geography, and Activities Agreed. Matrix type reports can be used to show totals based on multiple dimensions.
These keep track of the number of events that occur. For instance, being able to see the number of nominations contributed versus the number of reference requests made by a particular sales region can help gauge program adoption. Since a lot of activity doesn’t always equate to results, be prudent in your initial metrics. Some often used activity measurements include: # requests, % requests fulfilled, # nominations, # newly available references, and # retired references.
These show the potential sales opportunities that were influenced by customer references and the total amount of revenue they represent. For example, being able to show that opportunities that involved a particular type of reference brought in more revenue is revealing. This area will likely be considered most valuable by your executive team. Influence reports are based on being able to create a connection between the opportunity and one or more references that were involved.
As your program matures, it may be desirable to track and report on additional measures of your program. While not without effort, gathering program metrics is an important step to being able to manage your program effectively and advocate for its continued growth.
“One important consideration for reporting is to have clear definitions for the criteria. For example, you can track the industry of the sales prospect and you can track the industry of the reference customer you ultimately provided; do you want to include one or both criteria in your reporting? Be sure you define the reporting criteria upfront so everyone has a consistent understanding.”– Chris Caile, Senior Marketing Manager, Microsoft