Things That Were Said Around the April References Roundtable – Part 1: Managed or Self-serve References?

Things That Were Said Around the April References Roundtable – Part 1: Managed or Self-serve References?

Part 1: Managed or Self-serve References?

We had a super-productive reference management roundtable session with some super-productive practitioners, and we want to share some of the great things that were discussed. This is the first in a 3-part Q&A blog series that focuses on what was said.

Key takeaways: 

  • Most are working in a hybrid strategy with managed for reference calls versus self-serve for referenceable content. 
  • Managed is a starting point, while most seem to be building the foundations for a more comprehensive self-serve program down the line.
  • Integration with SalesForce is key, but make sure you have as much info fed into that as possible.
  • Some are also incorporating seismic to display their content and make it readily accessible to teams. 

Q: One of the toughest challenges of Reference Management is the need to work with teams. You have to work well with Sales and CS to ensure your success. In a recent roundtable discussion with some reference managers, we asked: Do you have a self-serve strategy in place that enables Sales to search and access relevant references, or do you manage the references and deliver them upon request?

Here are some great answers from around the table to guide you in your own endeavor. 

A1: I can start on that. So we are going down the managed route, I think definitely to get started. I know like probably many others, I am a one person team. So hopefully, we’ll continue to scale and grow, and it will become “unmanageable”. In which case, you know what, we’ll maybe look at that self service option. But I think to really get started, it’s a new concept, at least for our company. So I did want to kind of have my hand in. And although I do want to have some self-service options available, as far as reporting goes or, if they want to see what logos can be used, or what know, content is available, I want them to have a spot to kind of go to and find that themselves. And then I would help manage the actual reference call requests or visits that come through. And that’s kind of how we’re handling it so far.

A2: From our point of view, we have a hybrid way of doing our customer reference program. So, we have actually created in Salesforce, a reference search tool where our salespeople can find the references. And, we have also managed to get as much information as possible updated in Salesforce, because that’s another big challenge that we have – not all the information is always updated. So, we have this reference search tool where our sales can find the reference is based on specific filters. But they can also come to us (out team) for more tricky questions. Also case studies, different assets, we have them available for them to self-serve to see whether that is valid, if it’s something valid for their deal. We have these assets on our website, we also have been using Seismic where all these assets are uploaded. And of course, for the reference calls process, where they can log in the calls, there’s lots of communication between our salespeople internally, so many emails going back and forth. But we’re also encouraging them to keep us in the loop, so that we are aware of what’s happening and that no call leaves without being logged in. And we access it to know how many customers are being bombarded with references versus others, and whether we can find other alternatives as well. 

A3: So, we haven’t completely switched to how we would like to be using it, but we are prepping it to be peer-to-peer, so unmanaged, so that they can pull up a list of customers that match that for a reference. I believe that we’re going to be doing the self-service, where you find the content, you can just look that up. But we also use Seismic for that as well, we have a Seismic page where we have all of our content accessible. At the moment, what we are using is a TypeForm system, where it’s completely managed. They submit a form to me, the Reference Manager, and I will go pick them out a few reference options, and we will go from there. Managing behind the scenes internal communications with Sales is challenging of course. We try. We have a lot of calls with all our salespeople to encourage them to let us know what’s happening, at least our name, you know, the fact that the team exists is very important. So that we are in the loop of the conversation.

A4: I think one of the keys no matter what you choose to do, because we as well are going down the managed path, or the reference calls, but definitely looking at self-service for the content as well. Because if it’s an approved logo, it’s an approved logo, it doesn’t change, if you can find it, please Have at it, take it, use it for your presentations, or your customer or customer stories. For example, I don’t need to approve that every time you come to request that I find it, use it, take it off you go you don’t need me to bottleneck that for you.

But one of the things that really is key for us is communication, getting on those sales calls, being ‘the face’. And just being that constant reminder going, Hey, we’re here to help you. This program is for you, to make you successful. So if something isn’t working, tell us, we’ll change it. We’ll tweak it, we’ll make it work for you. Right? Because I can think all day long “Okay, I want all these filters. This makes perfect sense to me.” But are the prospects asking for those things? Maybe, maybe not. So it’s really going back and going: “okay, when your prospect is asking you for a reference, what are they really asking for? Are they asking for a use case? Are they asking for industry feature functionality? And getting to the nitty gritty of the actual request is not “Oh, well I need three because it’s in an RFP”. Okay, we still need to put some parameters around that. So the hope is that when we do the onboarding of our internal teams, it really is going to be a lot of education. So, it’s asking the right questions when you get asked for a reference. Don’t just go ‘okay, I will go grab you three.’ Nope. You need to put some parameters around it. Which then also allows you to go in, and, if we put the proper tagging in ,will allow you to self-serve and go “oh, we do have a pool”. Perfect now I can put my request in.

So that for us I know is definitely going to be one of those things because where it’s a form that they have to fill out with all the details possible, where this connects you directly into Salesforce. So you can go and look at the opportunity. You don’t need to ask your salesperson, “Oh, I need all these details, because the current system doesn’t live in Salesforce.”

What do you find to be your ultimate solution here?