Customer Reference Forum Hosts Event on Deploying 'Customer Sales Forces'

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With a growing number of firms deploying their customers to advertise and sell their products, Customer Reference Forum announces its next event in Boston on October 24 and 25.

With a growing number of firms deploying their customers to advertise and sell their products, Customer Reference Forum announces its next event in Boston on October 24 and 25. The event will bring together professionals in this emerging field from many of the top business to business (B2B) technology firms in the world.

“Customer reference programs have been spurred by increasing evidence that business buyers are shunning traditional sales and marketing approaches,” notes Bill Lee, President of Customer Reference Forum, which was formed last Fall. “They'd rather hear straight talk direct from other customers.

“Our participants are the people who actually implement the research and ideas of groups like WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association) and heavyweight thinkers like Malcolm Gladwell, Frederick Reichheld, Seth Godin, James Heskett, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba,” says Bill Lee, President of Customer Reference Forum.

“The research is pretty conclusive at this point. Traditional sales approaches and advertising don't sell technology anymore. Customers do. Our people are on the front lines of this emerging trend. They're the ones building the organizations, developing the systems, and implementing the nuts-and-bolts processes to get customers in front of prospects. And it's paying off.”

The October Customer Reference Forum will bring together professionals leading this trend from many of the top technology firms in the world, including HP, SAP, SAS, IBM, Mercury, Intel, VeriSign, Network Appliance and dozens of other top firms. “We provide networking and access to current best practices, particularly to those who want to emerge as leaders in this increasingly strategic field,” says Lee. “For those who are wrestling with specific challenges, we'll have answers and tools you can use. And for those whose senior management is still unconvinced of the importance of these initiatives, we'll give them the business case metrics they need to convince the toughest executive.”

Among the featured presenters will be:

  • Coleen Kaiser, Vice President, who'll show how SAP has embraced and institutionalized Reichheld's concept of “net promoters,” and found that this single metric drives revenues at the firms businesses – just as Reichheld's research predicts. Kaiser has brought these customers into SAP's organized reference program, resulting in a substantial impact on SAP sales – enough to warrant a 10-fold expansion of her global organization in the last two years. SAP's experience is highly significant because the firm is one of the most successful technology performers over the last few years and its senior management places increasing emphasis on its customer advocates.
  • Mary Beth Robinson, who manages the customer reference program for SAS EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will show how SAS has turned its annual user forum into an event that unleashes customer sales people. Happy SAS customers not only present to the assemblage, but actually meet privately with prospects to describe how they use SAS software and what it's meant to their businesses. These interactions are speeding up sales cycles and closing deals – enough so that the conference paid for itself with weeks after it was held.

“We'll also have some terrific keynoters,” notes Lee, “such as Jackie Huba, co-author of 'Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Forces' as well as a Sponsor Fair for those who want to learn more about what vendor solutions are available in this space. The biggest benefit we offer is contacts to other leading professionals in the field, who can act as a resource and sounding board.”

For more intimation, visit the Customer Reference Forum website at http://www.customerreferenceforum2005.com/program.htm

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