Posts Tagged ‘groups’
Customer references are used by salespeople to influence prospects, by marcom to create compelling campaigns, by public relations for media and analysts, by product teams in new launches, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, unless coordinated, this means overlapping efforts which is inefficient and frustrating to customers.
When establishing a formal customer reference program, our recommendation is to think enterprise wide and follow the steps outlined below for involving others in the effort.
1. Search out reference efforts and activities that already exist
Start by reaching out to different functions – sales, marketing, and PR, for example – and determining two things. First, are they already doing any type of customer reference activity? If so, how is it managed and what business needs does it support? And if not, do they have a need for customer references?
2. Engage other groups in the development of the reference program
When talking with people in other functions, let them know you’d like to organize a program that will accommodate everyone’s needs and that you would like their involvement. Seeking this buy-in early will assure you have their support down the road (whether or not they play an active role).
3. Regularly obtain plans and identify priorities
Ask the other groups for any plans (e.g., PR plan, marcom plan, product marketing plans, and messaging) so you can understand events, milestones, messages, and strategic priorities. This will help you collaborate in how customer references will be involved. Your customer reference plans, goals, and metrics should all be derived based on the strategy of the company and the goals of different groups.
4. Meet regularly with other groups
It is not uncommon for the customer reference program to be closely tied with the efforts of Public Relations and other functions that use references regularly. This may include sitting in on occasional team meetings, as well as meeting quarterly to review strategic direction.
5. Use internal marketing to communicate with other groups
Consider other groups in your internal marketing efforts. Use updates and reporting to demonstrate the progress and the possible need for their participation in your program.
6. Engage your executive sponsor to help overcome obstacles
Different groups have different priorities; it is inevitable and can prove challenging at times. Often it is around the level of customer information needed by different groups, or the ownership of customer interactions. It is essential to keep your executive sponsor apprised, and seek their assistance in mediating the issues that arise.
The fact that customer references are broadly used is both a justification and requirement for a formal program that will consider the needs and goals of different groups.