It’s a new year…and time to get some new customers in your reference program!

blog-checklistIn the world of B2B selling, customers rate the opinions of their peers as the #1 influential information source in their decision making process. Thus having a vast pool of references to call upon during the sales and marketing process is critical for your business’s success.

While there are experienced professional services teams that can help you build your pool of references, sometimes the budget is simply not available. That’s why we’ve created a multi-part series on best practices for nominating, recruiting and building your pipeline of customer references. After you’ve nailed down your nomination & recruitment strategy (see Part 1) it’s time to put some feet on the street and actually start moving the needle.

Below are some easy tactics you can implement today for a customer reference nomination and recruitment campaign.

Define Your Value Proposition

Yes, we know we already covered this one in “Part 1: Strategy,” but we can’t stress enough how critical this is to the nomination and recruitment process. If you can’t clearly share a defined value proposition to your customer (what’s the benefit to them for participating in your program), your efforts are going to be all for not.

Establish “Rules of Contact”

Before ever reaching out to ask a customer if they’ll be a reference, you first must define who owns the customer relationship (Account Management, Sales, etc.) and get permission to contact that customer.

Next, define your contact protocol, meaning what methods you’ll be using to reach out and how frequently. Don’t go overboard – the last thing you want to do is have the customer feel like you’re “bugging them.” For example, you might decide to do one phone call on Monday at 10am (leaving no voicemail if they don’t answer), a second call on Thursday at 2pm (leaving a voicemail if they don’t answer), send a follow up email on Friday at noon, and one last attempt email on Tuesday at 11am. Then if there’s no response after all that consider that customer “done” and move on.

Be sure you track your attempts and any responses you get so you don’t annoy the customer.

Create Contact Templates

Most likely you will need to create a phone and email script to align with your “Rules of Contact” plan. Keep both short and sweet. For example, you might say something like, “Hi Anne, your Acme Corp account manager, Dave Jones, mentioned you might be interested in participating in our customer reference program. I just need two minutes of your time. Can I tell you a bit about our program and ask you five basic questions?”

Some tips to keep in mind as you build your script:

  1. If you can mention the name of the person who owns the customer relationship (account manager, sales person, etc.) it can help you get in the door faster with the customer because they already trust that person.
  2. Only ask a few questions at first. You can always go back later after the customer starts doing reference activities and ask if they’d be willing to do additional things.

Log New Customer Information

As you reach out, track which customers have agreed to participate in your program. Log it in your customer reference management system, Excel sheet, or whatever mechanism you use for tracking reference information. Be sure to note which activities they’ve agreed to do, how often, who the right reference contact is at the company, and any other pertinent information.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

It is important for the success of your reference program that you keep information current. New deals are continually closing, customer relationships change, etc. Make it a point to run nomination and recruiting campaigns on a regular basis and also check in with references already in your program so you can ensure your reference pool (and pipeline) is always full of quality customer advocates.


Please contact our experts to learn more about defining effective value propositions for your customer reference program. Our experts are happy to help you!

Nichole Auston
Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.