Reference Point

February 2016                                                                   Gray

Next month we'll present first results from our Advanced Practices Research Study at the 2016 Summit. But already, a few things are quite clear.

Readers of this newsletter have known for some time now that prospects these days  want to hear from your customers--their peers. Your job is to embrace this trend, by cultivating influential customers and getting their stories out to your market. That's "peer power."

But now, we're seeing executives all the way to the C-suite who are increasingly keen to embrace and leverage this trend. That's why I'm using the term, "The Age of Peer Power." And trust me, in my work with executives and from their input into our Advanced Practices Research Study, they are looking for innovative, field tested ideas on how to do this. That's a major opportunity for you to not only secure your job, but to advance your career. In a sense, the entire Summit on Customer Engagement will be about how to embrace--and help your organization embrace--this trend. For now, here are two important implications for you and your job that you can focus on right now.

Still time to register.


1. You're in the business of changing customers' lives.

If that seems a little too extravagant a claim, consider a couple of customers for Citrix and IBM. One is a doctor, the other a data analyst for an insurance firm. Citrix and IBM both determined that these customers could be very influential to their respective markets. And to get them to exert influence, they didn't resort to incentives or points. Neither did they worry about "reference burnout." All such dubious propositions fell away because Citrix and IBM helped to change their lives: in a word, they offered to make them famous. No further incentives were required.

Through videos, speeches, media interviews, articles, etc.,  these two customers raised their own visibility, reputations and earned the respect of their peers and markets in general. The customers relished the media and communication opportunities the firms provided them. "Reference burn out" was not an issue. Not when you're providing a great customer advocacy experience--which in some ways, is far more compelling than the usual customer experience with your products and services. By focusing on how your advocacy program can change customers' lives, you can create a win-win situation.  You can build your brand and generate leads, and customers can improve their images at the same time.

At the Summit, you'll get a wealth of information on how to provide such slam-dunk exciting opportunities to your customer advocates as well.

2. Take a seat at the table.

Many of my readers are wondering, "How do we get support from the C-suite?" And, "How do we get cooperation and integration with key stakeholders like sales, marketing, product development and others?"

Start by recognizing the value of what you have to offer these groups--including the C-suite. And then remember to match that with their immediate interests. With that approach, invite yourself to key marketing, sales and even strategy meetings at your firm.

If marketing is under pressure for a sluggish lead gen pipeline, find out why. It might be due to the fact that powerful customer stories aren't getting to the prospects at the critical stage. Which, of course, is something you can help remedy.

If sales isn't cooperating with the need to help cultivate new customer advocates, find out why. They may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not doing so. If they're concerned about not wanting to "bother" busy customers with advocacy requests, show them how advocacy has improved the lives and professional growth of other advocates--you can also show them how other firms like Citrix and IBM are doing this (I'll show a video and other media opportunities their customers took advantage of at the Summit.)

And for those of you with the gumption and ambition, approach your C-suite during strategic planning. Salesforce uses a system with its business clients, at the highest levels, that revolves around a simple strategic focus: "What stories do we want our customers to be telling to our market? And how can we help them tell it?" In the Age of Peer Power, what strategic question is more important?

All the best,

Bill Lee

Center for Customer Engagement (C4CE) | +1 214.907.5600 | bill@c4ce.com | http://www.c4ce.com/
3225 Turtle Creek Blvd
Suite 1801
Dallas, TX 75219

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