The Phelon Group's Fifth Annual 2007 Benchmarking Study Highlights the Disconnect between Sales and Marketing

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The Phelon Group today announced the release of its fifth annual Customer Reference Program Benchmarking Study, available at http://www.phelongroup.com/resources/purchase.htm for $95.00. Whitney Wood, author of the report, will lead a webinar on April 10 to review the key findings - registration for the webinar is available at http://www.phelongroup.com/. The report includes data compiled from 40 leading companies about customer reference program budgets, priorities, and goals, and point out that for executives who run the marketing department, the cost of not listening to the needs of the sales force can be devastating - reduced revenue and stagnant growth.

Most marketing programs miss the mark when it comes to providing critical support for their sales colleagues in the form of great customer references, according to data in this year's Customer Reference Program Benchmarking Study from The Phelon Group. To close the gap, marketing leaders need to find new ways to align with the needs of the sales force and use indisputable, compelling metrics to demonstrate their success, the study's key findings say.

The Phelon Group today announced the release of its fifth annual Customer Reference Program Benchmarking Study, available at http://www.phelongroup.com/resources/purchase.htm for $95.00. Whitney Wood, author of the report, will lead a webinar on April 10 to review the key findings - registration for the webinar is available at http://www.phelongroup.com/. The report includes data compiled from 40 leading companies about customer reference program budgets, priorities, and goals, and point out that for executives who run the marketing department, the cost of not listening to the needs of the sales force can be devastating - reduced revenue and stagnant growth.

"In order to effectively do their jobs, sales and marketing both need examples of very satisfied customers. But our research shows that customer reference programs usually gravitate towards marketing and don't factor in the needs of sales - and these are flagship marketing programs that are extremely visible to sales," says Promise Phelon, Founder of The Phelon Group. "Having this key program out of step with sales needs puts the vice president of marketing, who typically oversees customer reference programs, in a very difficult spot. Many of our clients have successfully aligned sales and marketing, put programs and metrics in place to monitor and improve performance, and incorporate feedback from sales - what we call the 'Voice of Sales'. Marketing leaders need to work intelligently to develop and implement new strategies, prioritize resources, and improve decision-making."

The research in the Benchmarking Study highlights the disconnect between sales and marketing, but The Phelon Group has identified key attributes of successful organizations:

--Prioritize resources: Marketing leaders must design customer reference programs that factor in the needs of both sales and marketing. On average less than 1% of company budgets are spent on documenting and publicizing customer successes.
--Locate the "voice of sales": Eighty-seven percent of the respondents said that marketing has greater influence over customer reference programs than sales. Companies must implement programs that give sales a voice in the customer reference world.
--Measure success, gain executive recognition: Most customer reference programs are measured on volume - how many case studies are developed annually. This is a critical mistake. Strategies, metrics and benchmarks must be geared towards measuring the impact of customer reference programs on customer retention, repurchase and referability.

The disconnect between sales and marketing highlighted in the Benchmark Study can have a dramatic impact on your company: poor sales closure rate, customer defections, and corporate strategies that are based on outdated information. A variety of programs and best practices are available to help companies cross this great divide and bridge the gap between sales and marketing. Marketing is best positioned to take the initiative to understand the true requirements of sales, as well as to design mechanisms to capture and use key customer data to help improve sales--and to help the company break through revenue barriers. To learn more about The Phelon Group's proven methodologies and its Customer Reference Program Benchmarking Study - 2007 Edition, contact Whitney Wood by email or at (408) 329-5931.

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Rob Goodman
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