When it comes to customer references, enterprise sales forces are often met with the following scenario. A salesperson is in the process of closing a sale, when the prospect asks for a reference, and all of a sudden, a mad scramble ensues. Frantic emails get sent around the organization sounding something like this:
- “Does anyone know a customer in telecom who can take a reference call from my prospect?”
- “Who’s a customer reference that is using product version 8.0, and is at least a $100M company?”
- “I think we can get one from ACME Widgets, but you’ll have to talk o their account manager. I think that’s John Smith.”
- “The deal won’t close until customer references are provided. How long will it take?”
How can you avoid these “Hail Mary” emails in the 4th quarter of a deal? Increase the ability for self service in the field with customer reference technology. If you can relate to one or more of the situations below, technology solutions like RO|ReferenceView may be the answer you seek for increasing self service in your company.
1. We manage customer references in an Excel spreadsheet. The hurdle to overcome here is accessibility.
When the document is not shared with the sales team, sales reps do not know what types of references are available because they cannot see the customer reference database. Furthermore, when the sheet is updated, it can be a pain to notify the sales team. Customer reference technology platforms make information easily accessible by the sales team, at any time, ensuring the data they see is the most up-to-date. Reference management technology is also built to handle reference request workflows, making it easy to track usage of customer reference assets and giving sales visibility into the status of the request. RO|ReferenceView also gives managers a medium in which to share new references, ensure visibility, and have an adaptive, flexible solution to support customer reference efforts as a program grows.
2. Live reference calls are burning out our best customer references, and take too much time to schedule.
There is a way to replace the need for live calls, while still leveraging the candid insights of real customer reference interactions – create audio and video references for sales to access on-demand. Video and audio references are a “have it now” solution for the sales team to use with prospects. They also still provide the credibility of sharing customer experiences, candid descriptions and insights that a prospect gets from a live call. Audio and video references are powerful ways to showcase customer satisfaction, help prevent overuse of live references, and enable self-service because the reference or testimonial can be pulled when needed.
3. We need a way to increase sales rep self service, without creating additional workflows.
Customer reference technology platforms often are built to synch or integrate with your current CRM platform, like Salesforce.com. Since sales teams often access the CRM daily, and are already familiar with it as a sales tool, integrating your customer reference database with your CRM is an easy way to help them help themselves. Directly from the RO|ReferenceView tab in the CRM, sales reps can see what references are available in the database, submit a request for fulfillment, and track the status of the request with greater visibility. Additionally, short reference request forms provide the reference manager with required information upfront, eliminating back-and-forth to match the right customer reference for the selling situation while speeding up the fulfillment process.
Remember, just because you are increasing the availability of self service for your sales force, doesn’t mean you are giving up control. Technology systems give you the ability to measure the use of references and manage to and preserve customer relationships. Contact the RO Innovation team to see if our customer reference technology, RO|ReferenceView, is right for you.