Sharing Reference Contact Info w/ Sales

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JustBrash
JustBrash Member Posts: 7 Navigator
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edited August 2023 in CS Conversations

Hello,

I've been putting new processes into place for our company's reference program and we're getting some pushback from the sales department. I'd really love to hear feedback from this community on best practices for sharing our reference contact information with the sales department.

Our current process has sales submit a reference request when they have a prospective client. I then match that request with a reference contact and coordinate a private Zoom call between the prospect and the reference. This is to ensure they have the freedom to engage in an open and honest discussion. I follow up after the call with an email to the reference thanking them, asking how everything went, and if they have any feedback or suggestions. Sometimes they provide a little information about what the prospect said on the call, but not always.

Here's where I am getting pushback from Sales:

  • They often ask for the reference contact information so they can coordinate the call directly and be more involved... and/ or
  • They ask for the reference contact information after the call so they can contact the reference directly and pick their brain about the reference call so they are better prepared at their next meeting with their prospect.

We have a policy in place to not share the reference contact information with the salesperson so we can protect that reference. We don't want our references to be inundated with calls from salespeople. And we don't want the reference feeling put on the spot by a salesperson who they don't have a relationship with asking them to share details of a private conversation.

I would really appreciate hearing how other companies are handling their references so we can understand if our thinking is on the right track or off-base.

Thank you!

Comments

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 199 Expert
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    edited March 2023
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    Hi @JustBrash. I have always followed the same protocol. The contact information and exact type of reference is not public and the references are strictly managed by the reference team. Sales is not allowed to do any direct outreach. It prevents reference burn out and the customers is always asked by someone they are familiar with.

    Advocates are like gold and need to be treated and protected like a precious metal. Once introduced, they can exchange contact information and follow up. I see them connect on LinkedIn all the time.

  • JustBrash
    JustBrash Member Posts: 7 Navigator
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    Thanks so much, Brian! This is helpful to hear we're on the right track.

  • Michelle Wideman
    Michelle Wideman Member Posts: 54 Navigator
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    @JustBrash I would agree. If your sales team is worried about how good the reference is, it may helpful to provide data that shows how successful a reference is by tracking the amount of revenue they've influenced. It may also help you pick out any bad references. Often times bad references can easily be repurposed for other tasks: case studies, internal company presentations(SKO, Team calls), or panels where they can be better guided.

  • Jordan Silverman
    Jordan Silverman Member, CS Leader Posts: 109 Expert
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    @JustBrash we have a similar policy so I 100% think you are on the right track. What we have done is have two sets of references:

    1) Protected References - we protected these like crazy just like you outline. They are gold and we want to ensure they do not get burnout as you said

    2) Smaller References - Our sales team had the exact same ask as yours. So what we did was built a pool of smaller clients we could use as references. We paid them small fees ($50 per call) and they loved it! They were not worried about burnout because they got paid a little bit so we used them more often and for smaller prospects. Sales was also thrilled because they could use them as needed vs going through CS.

    Jordan Silverman
    jordan.silverman@usestarfish.com
    (914) 844-5775
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordansilverman/
  • JustBrash
    JustBrash Member Posts: 7 Navigator
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    Great info and suggestions, @Michelle Wideman and @Jordan Silverman ! Thank you!

This discussion has been closed.