A customer reference program not only builds good rapport with the spotlighted customer, it also persuades new prospects to buy.
Many believe the primary purpose of a customer reference program (CRP), also known as reference marketing, is to strengthen a businesses’ bond with the spotlighted customer.
Undoubtedly, CRPs improve a customer’s relationship with the sponsoring company by associating their name with the winning use of a product or service in exchange for wide publicity. Customers love seeing their name in print. It enhances their emotional attachment to the brand and company behind it.
This is especially true when the story is prepared in objective, reportorial style in print, video, trade press editorials, social media campaigns or promotional HTML e-mails.
But can reference marketing also persuade prospects to seriously consider purchasing one particular brand over another, or is that just wishful thinking?
Five ways Customer Reference Marketing converts new prospects
No. 1. Demonstrates mutual commitment:
- A customer reference demonstrates a deep engagement with the spotlighted company, its products and services by being willing to publicly testify about them.
- The implied endorsement by a third party has significant stopping power.
No. 2. Increases credibility:
- An ongoing CRP boosts the credibility of the supplier behind the offerings it describes.
- This is especially valid in comparison with other promotional tools (sales aids, brochures, web pages) that are often seen as self-serving; less credible.
No. 3. Enhances interest:
- Reference stories support sales efforts in moving prospects along the buyer journey: Awareness; Consideration, and; Decision.
- Decision takers are attracted by the knowledge that other companies – sometimes successful competitors – are working with a particular supplier.
No. 4. Grows confidence:
- A prospect feels confidence knowing a particular supplier works for a company that is demanding with a reputation for outstanding performance.
- Sales teams are especially comfortable using references as proof the solutions they represent actually work.
- References make sales presentations more persuasive when a credible, outside testimonial is included.
No. 5. Proves a winning reputation:
- A customer reference is more than basic co-branding. It’s a fully detailed success story told in the customer’s voice.
- A personal story conveyed in print or video; the basis of press events or editorials which demand specific validation to be newsworthy, or; actual attribution (by name/title) of a business head stating a particular solution solved a specific challenge.
- Puts a third-party reputation on the line, which is highly convincing to prospects.
While on the subject of winning, remember a well-executed CRP is a win-win for the organization behind it:
- Creates more solid relations with the customer involved;
- Has proven value as an impartial endorsement in persuading prospects.
Download the white paper
An in-depth White Paper details why CRPs are beneficial to customers, internal sales teams and their prospects. Separate chapters also describe how to effectively start a CRP; set objectives; continuously maintain it, and; measure its effectiveness.