Salespeople work under the pressure of a very competitive environment, and they want access to any tool or resource that will help them win business.
And, as with most large corporate purchases, the only way to get new customers to sign on is to let them hear directly from current customers who can speak about their experience with your products.
So why do salespeople often resist participating in your company's customer-reference program? For several reasons...
Salespeople may feel like they are "bothering" their customers when asking for a reference. Once a new customer has signed up, it is the salesperson's and account manager's job to keep that customer happy. Asking for "favors," such as taking reference calls or participating in marketing-reference activities, can seem like an unnecessary burden.
Salespeople may view the customer-reference process as interfering with their deal. Sales professionals are very focused on reaching the final negotiations of the sale. If the customer-reference process is too rigid or asks too much from them, they see it as a distraction. They often feel they will do better dealing with the reference request themselves without going through a formal channel.
Salespeople are competitive by nature. The customer-reference process is designed to benefit the entire organization, not just one sales professional, yet each salesperson is trying to become the top performer. So if a customer-reference manager asks a salesperson to contribute something that will help another sales representative, the salesperson may not see an immediate benefit to himself.
Salespeople may have had unsuccessful experiences in the past with formal customer-reference programs. Perhaps they have spent time filling out forms, only to wait for help that didn't come. Or perhaps they were given references who were not able to give a positive reference or speak about the appropriate subject matter. Or possibly they had to repair relationships with customers after a failed reference attempt.
Those are all valid concerns. But you need the salespeople to be on board to successfully leverage customers for the next sale. What can be done?