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Why Customer Reference and other Voice of the Customer Programs Are Officially a MUST Have in B2B Sales

By Lisa Hoesel, Reference Manager

DemandMetric reports that one of the top metrics most associated with moderate to significant revenue impact from Customer Marketing is “customer influenced revenue via referrals or references” (42%).

A Harvard Business Review study in 2017 ranked customer references as a more influential decision support than company websites, company content and sales presentations.

B2B buyers in the high-tech, financial, healthcare, and other verticals are more educated than ever before-largely by virtue of the internet. And once they ask for time with sales, they expect far more than a standard demo session. They want to know how your organization has solved the same legitimate pain points for similar customers, in the same industry and situation. The stakeholders that ask to speak with us are interested in how similar organizational functions have successfully addressed business problems. They want to hear from their peers in our customer base.

Without efficient ways for our sales teams to identify content that addresses their buyer’s questions at their unique level of interest and without offering them an easy way to find and request peer-to-peer reference calls and other activity that is organized by specific attributes of their opportunity, we are failing to address the educated buyer. Our sales teams are forced to answer questions with answers that the buyer has already thoroughly researched and understood.

The way your organization maximizes peer influence in the sales cycle can significantly influence revenue. The way that you support your sellers search for, access to, and delivery of peer testimonial is key to achieving this goal and can be facilitated with a comprehensive customer reference solution that associates customers, contact and collateral with specific buyer interests while providing you with a complete profile of the ways in which the voice of your customers is used throughout sales and marketing initiatives.

As you are investigating ways that you can address the educated buyer’s challenges to your sales reps, some questions that you might consider about how you develop customer reference programs and demonstrate their effectiveness follow:

Can your reference program support the following statements?

  • We know how our happy customers are being leveraged in both sales and marketing efforts.
  • Our reference solution can provide specific customer contacts by product, vertical, persona and other segments, to the sales cycle when a seller asks for a reference.
  • We know that references are one of the top three things that buyers report as being key in their decisions, and our sales reps can find references that match the needs of their prospects when they are asked to set up a peer call or provide a case study or other collateral that validates that we have solved the same problems with other similar customers.
  • We can prove that the investment we have made in sales training has been worthwhile.
  • When a sales rep wins a deal, we can show where our reference customers and content contributed to their success in the sales cycle.
  • Our reference customers feel that they are valuable, and we acknowledge and reward them for their participation.
  • We can identify how reference activities and collateral contribute to the efficiency of our sales reps.
  • We can identify how reference activities and collateral influence revenue, at each sales stage, by types of opportunities, product, geo, vertical, buyer persona and many other criteria and segments in our sales cycle and marketplace.

Bottom line: In today’s buyer-enabled, educated marketplace, when a prospect knocks on your digital door, how do you ensure that your sales rep is equipped and enabled with the customer reference activity and assets that answer their SPECIFIC use case and challenges?

We would be delighted to discuss with you the ways that you can activate the voice of your customers to win more business faster. Connect with us now and one of our experts will contact you shortly

In the meantime, here’s our guide to creating and optimizing a best-in-class customer reference program: Read Now!

About Lisa Hoesel

Lisa Hoesel is a customer success and reference strategist. She engages both internal and external audiences in dialogues about key business initiatives to explore innovative ways of driving revenue and achieving overarching goals through creative use of the Voice of the Customer in both sales cycles and marketing campaigns and efforts.

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