Valerio Battelli is a world-class customer reference professional. And I mean that in more ways than one. He’s Italian. He lives and works at an industry-leading world-class company in the U.K. He oversees a ridiculously successful customer reference program and flies all over the world building relationships with customers. Yet despite this worldly description, he is one of the most down-to-earth people you’ll meet.
Valerio didn’t necessarily start out with the vision of becoming a customer reference manager, but has truly enjoyed the journey getting there. During his graduate degree studies in Rome, he got his first taste of the world of reference activities while working for his University. “To be honest, reference management, and customer references in general are not very popular in Italy,” says Valerio. “So it was really hard for me to explain what referenceability was and what a good client reference program is to anyone back home. That’s why working where I do now is so great…they ‘get it.’” Shortly after graduating in Rome, he moved to the U.K. to pursue a second graduate degree, and after finishing his studies, landed a job at Misys. Misys, a financial services software firm, is on a mission to create customers for life by providing a superior client experience. With a customer base of 2,000+ in over 125 countries, their need to manage referenceability of their clients was vital to supporting their customer-centric mission.
Customer References: A Way of Life at Misys
In his role as Customer Reference Specialist at Misys, Valerio offers global customer reference support to the Misys Sales and Marketing teams. He helps Marketing produce needed materials like case studies, press releases and client videos. He makes sure Misys has good reference customers to speak on stage throughout the year for their Misys Connect world tour events. He also helps Sales set up and personally facilitate customer reference meetings and calls between their prospects and customers, and sometimes client-to-client, to talk about Misys solutions and technology. He fulfills on average 50 sales requests a month. He also helps Misys’s Analyst Manager line up reference customers for analyst reports and awards.
“My favorite thing is working with clients on video case studies. When you first approach a client, you don’t really know the full story. Then you start working with them and hearing about their challenges, needs and solutions. You realize as their story unfolds, it’s not about the solution we sell, it’s really about that relationship and partnership we’ve built with them. It’s really fun to help tell that story and build it into something tangible that can be shared with others.” – Valerio Battelli, Misys
One thing Valerio says makes his job so much more enjoyable is having a sales team who understands the value of using a centralized customer reference technology to help facilitate request workflows. “Like most companies that implement a new technology for salespeople to use, they were skeptical at first. Their first question to us often was, ‘Well, what do I get out of it?’ They didn’t want anything that they felt was going to waste their time.” But Valerio knew they had a solid process in place within the RO Innovation platform, which internally is called the Misys Connect Hub. Once salespeople saw the system and what it did, Valerio says they saw the immediate value: “The sales team saw that by working with the customer engagement team they really were successful. We’ve shown them a customer-centric approach really does work, and is not something you flex only when you’re trying to get a new customer on board. It’s the way we do business now.”
“My favorite thing is working with clients on video case studies. When you first approach a client, you don’t really know the full story. Then you start working with them and hearing about their challenges, needs and solutions. You realize as their story unfolds, it’s not about the solution we sell, it’s really about that relationship and partnership we’ve built with them. It’s really fun to help tell that story and build it into something tangible that can be shared with others.” – Valerio Battelli, Misys.
With the support and buy-in of the sales team, Valerio’s team has recruited over 450 customers into the reference program in the past 2 years. And while the reference program has achieved many big goals in the past few years, Valerio says it’s really the little daily wins that mean the most to him:
“So we had this new customer in our retail vertical that had told me when they came on board that they would never be able to do a press release with us. As they used our solution, and understood the value and saw it was truly helping their company, they started engaging with some of our prospects and existing clients via reference activities. After a few months of consistent focus on building a relationship with them, they not only gave us sign off to do a press release, but a case study as well!”
Fun Facts About Valerio Battelli:
- His family has their own cellar in Rome and makes fabulous white wine.
- Valerio has two master’s degrees. One from Rome and another from the U.K.
- He was a professional tennis player before getting his degree. He still plays 2-3 times a week.
Valerio’s 5 Keys to Success in Reference Management
- Patience & persistence with relationship building: “Sometimes you work with customers and you don’t get a response right away. You think, ‘I’m NEVER going to get anything from that account.’ But if you are patient, and work on a daily basis with your sales team, eventually you will get something. It’s all about establishing relationships, which also don’t happen in the blink of an eye.”
- Executive support for your program: “Every company needs c-level support of reference activities. Without it, it takes ages to see results. It’s also important to get additional senior execs to become advocates of your program so it becomes more valuable to more people.”
- Budget & resources: “Make sure you have enough budget and resources for your program and allocate them right. Don’t waste the opportunities you work hard to gain.”
- Don’t be afraid to lead: “If you want your reference program to achieve great results, you need to lead a lot of initiatives. They aren’t going to happen unless you take action to make it so.”
- Teamwork matters: “Referenceability is a cross-functional. You need to make sure you have synergies, alignment and coordination between departments. You need to have a lot of colleagues supporting you in these activities, and make sure everyone is on the same page, or you don’t go anywhere.”