Do You Know How Your Sellers Really Get References?

4 minute read

Struggling to get quality references is an all-too-common problem for B2B sellers. But the first step to a better sales reference future is acknowledging that the old way is broken and implementing effective sales reference strategies.

Getting relevant sales references on tight deadlines isn’t easy. Many organizations don’t have formal customer reference or advocacy programs at all. And for companies that do, these programs often can’t move or scale quickly enough to fulfill every sales reference request before prospects’ deadlines.

This means it’s frequently up to sellers to do whatever it takes to source references to move their deals forward on their own. Unfortunately, when left to their own devices, most B2B sellers turn to one of four less-than-perfect tactics that, while sometimes successful in the short term, often create more problems than they solve.

Let’s take a closer look at four of the most common ways sellers find peer references when they don’t have established processes in place:

1. Back Pocket Sales References

What are they?

Sellers accumulate a small list of references over time and always go back to their trusted contacts. In their minds, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Plus, it’s normally a fast and easy approach.

What’s the risk?

Sellers frequently overuse their favorite references, inadvertently damaging customer relationships in the process. Also, because the pool of back pocket references doesn’t grow fast enough, it’s tough to find well-matching reference contacts for every opportunity. The result is burned-out customers whose conversations, so often mismatched, don’t always even advance the sale.

2. Reference Trading

What is it?

Sellers collect and trade their back pocket references with each other. A classic “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation. This is essentially a slightly more collaborative version of approach number one, above.

What’s the risk?

While sellers get slightly more reference diversity by trading, their combined sales reference pool is still relatively small, and usually, it’s not growing any larger. Going back to the same ten references over and over is better than overusing the same five contacts, but only just. This may suffice in the short term, but still isn’t sustainable.

3. Call Who They Know

What is it?

Sellers repeatedly ask the same internal customer success and subject matter expert contacts for help sourcing sales references. It’s a matter of rapidly sending messages, texts, and emails to anyone who helped out in the past to see if they can assist again.

What’s the risk?

No matter how close sellers are with their colleagues, customer success teams have other responsibilities and can’t always prioritize sourcing reference contacts. Rather than dropping everything to find references for sellers, it may take them days to help. Even if they do manage to come through, who knows how applicable the contacts they provide will be to the opportunity at hand?

4. The Hail Mary

What is it?

Sellers send desperate internal emails to an entire department, business unit, or company for last-minute reference help. When push comes to shove, it might be the only option. And a desperate internal email is better than going back to a prospective customer empty handed.

What’s the risk?

This last-ditch effort might surface a reference or two, but it leaves sellers with whatever they can get, rather than strategic, targeted sales references. Plus, there are only so many times a sales rep can demand “all hands on deck” before their colleagues start ignoring their pleas.

What’s the Solution?

The common, go-to ways that many B2B sales reps use to source sales references aren’t sustainable and come with considerable risk. A better approach lies in the development of a system that provides targeted, on-demand sales references. And doing so is easier than it sounds.

It doesn’t even require launching—or relaunching—a full Customer Reference or Customer Advocacy program. With a simple app built to put the reference needs of B2B sellers first, organizations can start seeing real value in days, not months. And start accelerating deal cycles and winning more opportunities with trusted sales references.

Ready to get started? Download our eBook: Win more deals with peer-to-peer sales references >

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