David Sroka, PresidentIn this new age of advocate marketing, peer opinions have an increasingly stronger influence on buyers, while the effectiveness of standard sales and marketing rhetoric is fading. A well-thought-out customer reference program, as a result, is one of the most valuable corporate assets for marketing and sales professionals in a competitive financial market. Consequently, the need to quickly and easily access reference customer success stories―written, recorded or live―is paramount for businesses. Many companies, lacking an effective process or appropriate tools, fail to tap into the value of customer references and continue to manage them in an ad hoc fashion, losing out on their impact on sales opportunities. “Customer reference data is all scattered and silo-ed in different systems and spreadsheets in an organization. As a result, the challenge is searching and locating the right customer’s information and the right content in a moment’s notice,” reveals David Sroka, President, Point of Reference. Addressing these impediments, the idea for Point of Reference was, to put it succinctly, “We offer an application—ReferenceEdge— that centralizes all the customer reference information along with customer content like videos, case studies, and press releases in Salesforce where use metrics are real-time,” adds Sroka.
With an intent to solve the dilemma for sales and marketing, Point of Reference’s natural progression was to connect sales and marketing people and reference relationship managers through automation consistent with the Salesforce user experience. Deployed as standalone SaaS product for 10 years, the company re-platformed their product onto Salesforce to better support embedded automation for reference requests, identifying new reference customers, and updating reference information on a single platform.“Being installed in the client’s Salesforce organization also facilitates connectivity to related systems like marketing automation, customer success applications, service applications and more,” says Sroka.
ReferenceEdge goals include boosting sales win rates and the productivity of the sales people who need to hunt for customer references alongside their sales jobs. Paraphrasing Sroka, the trend in the Salesforce solutions arena is “doing more with less.”
The result of our product is to effectively add sales people to your team by saving each of them hours in a week otherwise spent on reference hunting expeditions
As spreadsheets become increasingly cumbersome to maintain surging reference needs, the repetitive tasks requiring low skills in the customer reference program necessitates automation. ReferenceEdge is the central source for all the reference information and with automation saves both time and effort. “The result of our product is to effectively add sales people to your team by saving each of them hours in a week otherwise spent on reference hunting expeditions,” extols Sroka. The extensive list of pre-built reports and dashboard charts quantify the value of a well-organized approach to reference management.
Having ReferenceEdge installed in the Salesforce environment enables UI consistency, real-time data, specialized workflows, and also leverages Salesforce sites and communities to derive full value from a customer’s investment in the Salesforce relationship. The application’s Shared Contacts feature has also met the unique challenges in the huge and relatively untapped industry of life sciences where contacts can be associated to multiple accounts in the Salesforce environment. ReferenceEdge simplifies the management of reference information in multiple accounts with purpose-built functionality.
Moving ahead, the company will continue developing the connections to related sales, marketing, and customer success applications for real-time data interactions through expanded partnerships for the benefit of clients. “We will continue to expand automation driven by: customer needs, expressed and anticipated, as well as our nirvana view of the customer advocate management function,” concludes Sroka.