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Case Study: How a High-Tech Company Created a Searchable Customer Reference Database that Tripled References and Closed Sales

by Jennifer Natsu  |  
May 8, 2007

Company: Network Appliance
Contact: Diana Ying, program manager
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Industry: High-Tech, B2B
Annual revenue: $2,070,000,000
Number of employees: 5300

Quick read:

The customer development group at a large, publicly held high-tech company needed a central repository of data to help identify satisfied customers willing to be references when sales associates approached new prospects. Typically, finding such a customer could take as many as three days—a waste of valuable time that could jeopardize the sales lead.

By putting together a customer reference management database filled with relevant data on customers, the company was able to cut the amount of search time from days to seconds. The company's database now holds thousands of global references, complete with customer contacts, deployment details, and more than 1,200 customer-ready tools that the sales team can use.

The new information, along with the timely way it can be accessed, has more than tripled the number of customer references at the sales force's disposal. Moreover, information is highly secure, with role-based entitlements built in to manage access of the most sensitive types of data.

The Challenge:

In the fall of 2005, the customer development group at Network Appliance (NTAP), a Fortune 1000 company listed on Nasdaq, conducted a survey of its sales associates to find out what they needed to sell its products and services more successfully. (NetApp, as the company is often called, offers enterprise storage systems and related services.)

Nearly unanimously, the sales teams requested a centralized database of reference accounts that they could use to search for similar customers and find contact names and other information.

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