This week, we’re honored to share a guest post from Joshua Horwitz of Boulder Logic:
With tightened budgets all around, this is the most common question we hear: do I need a customer reference application, or will a spreadsheet for my reference program be enough? To help our clients make the decision, we advise them to consider the specifics of their situation and the pros and cons of each approach. Let’s take a look.
We advise starting by jotting down answers to some basic questions. What is the size of your customer base and how many referenceable customers do you realistically foresee? If you really won’t be expanding beyond a couple dozen or so reference customers, the challenge of keeping track of everyone’s activities is more limited. What is the size of your sales force? Organizations with more than a handful of team members, particularly if they are geographically distributed, tend to struggle more when tools and processes are informal. What is your vision for your customer reference program? The complexity of everything increases as you expand the activities you support, serve more stakeholders, or attempt to provide a more consistent experience for your customers and prospects.
While your initial plans may be modest, we recommend thinking several quarters ahead. It’s much harder to build a new IT justification or reset stakeholder expectations down the road. Too often we see customer reference program managers unable to expand and evolve their program because they’ve become hostages to a process filled with manual tasks that didn’t seem overwhelming earlier.
With the points above in mind, let’s look at the pros and cons of spreadsheets compared to a formal customer reference application.