SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform

The Text Reference

We all know our best customers do a much better job selling the value of our products and services than we do. No matter how many logos and customer testimonial videos are masterfully created, nothing beats that moment when a buyer asks our customers the question:

“Would you buy again and why?”

In the past few months, I’ve personally experienced a new kind of reference checking – The Text Reference. In a hyper-connected world, I’m seeing people reaching out to their trusted network via text for quick reference checks. This is happening at the highest level of executive decision-making.

The Trusted Text Reference Story

Imagine being in a meeting with an economic buyer or champion. A logo slide or customer story slide pops up on the screen and becomes part of the sales conversation. The meeting is going well and relevant customer stories are being shared. Even though we do the preparatory “connect the dots” work to see how well our customers are connected with our prospects, we can’t really tell how close a relationship is. You never do know when one of the folks in the room or meeting will be very close to someone in the know at one of our customers. Sometimes folks even have a professional texting relationship. The economic buyer or champion texts their peer while the meeting is taking place.  They ask the question – would you buy again and why? A deal happens or doesn’t happen at that moment. There’s nothing better than the buyer sitting across the table or video conference smiling and saying my friend/your customer just gave you the thumbs up.  Now, let’s talk about next steps. As we see more reference checks happening via text, we all need to be mindful of the customer stories we share and the logos we show.  It doesn’t pay to share a story that isn’t one hundred percent reference-able and super happy.  That’s the lesson of this story.

References Hygiene

As we race to finish our year off with a bang, we’re going to hopefully find ourselves facilitating many reference call introductions beyond the informal text reference check.  Here are some professional tips to coach, prepare, brief, and thank our references. Peer Reference Validation: Match references by company size, roles, and industry. Companies want to talk to a reference just like them so they feel comfortable their needs are understood and met.  The power of peer validation is the strongest kind of reference. Reference Evaluation Questions: Be curious about what’s important to your prospect. Find out what buyers want to learn by talking to a reference. Get the questions and in turn share the questions with your references in advance. They’ll appreciate it. Brief Prospects: After introducing your prospect to your customer, send a deal briefing summary to your prospect. Give them the detail on the business problem solved, the use cases, usage patterns, and ROI. Send the summary in an email or one page document. Brief Customer References: For customers who will serve as a reference, let them know how they can help and what concerns exist that need to be overcome. Jump on a call with your customer reference to share the back story.  It’s our job to coach our references. They want to help. Send Thank You Notes: Be grateful and send hand-written thank you notes to the executives that invest the time to share their story with your prospect. Don’t forget every customer logo you show or mention in a presentation and talk needs to be a glowing reference. Our world is super connected and chances are someone evaluating your solution will reach out informally to someone you say is your customer.  Assume everyone is connected and act accordingly.

What reference tips or stories do you have to share? What reference sources do you trust?

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About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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