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How to Fix Your Customer Reference Program

For all the hype around “digital transformation,” the sad reality is that in B2B selling, the use of references is stuck in the '90s. Most companies do a poor job producing references, and less than 5% of buyers derive real value from speaking with those references. Buyers, sellers, and even the reference providers (“referees”) were stuck with a decidedly old, outdated process that could be dramatically improved for everyone involved. Buyers and sellers deserve a better alternative, one that alleviates frustration on both sides.

woman smiling while taking a video call

The Pain – Status Quo

The process of scheduling and conducting reference calls has long been a pain point for buyers, sellers, and referees. It should be simple: a seller connects a prospective buyer with a customer reference to verify the product’s strengths and weaknesses. But as business scales, product complexity grows, and schedules fill, this process quickly becomes unmanageable:

Sellers have little visibility into the discussions that take place during reference calls and struggle to gauge buyer engagement. They dread the headache of scheduling reference calls. They don’t prep references, don’t know what has already been communicated, and reuse a small pool of reliable referees – leading to reference burnout. Customer advocacy managers and sales reps alike expend a lot of energy and get little from it. They prefer to spend their time on more important jobs.

Buyers don’t know how to extract value from reference calls. They don’t have a standard script. They don’t have a uniform scoring methodology. They don’t know the industry and competitors well. When teams are conducting reference calls, which is most of the time today, it’s difficult to objectively compare notes. The reference check process takes far longer than it should, wasting their money and time.

Referees genuinely want to help their suppliers and connect with their peers, but they are frustrated by the lack of automation and the last-minute requests. They have busy schedules to work around. If they’re reliable, they may be asked to participate in multiple reference interviews for different prospects. Even the most satisfied customer’s tenth reference won’t be as enthusiastic as their first.

The Gain – Verified

MGI Verified solves the pain points associated with traditional reference programs. By digitizing the reference process, Verified enables sellers to increase sales productivity, improve the buying experience, and close deals faster.

First, sellers identify a small number of preferred referees, who participate in a structured and comprehensive 30 to 45-minute video interview, conducted by a third party. This interview is recorded and uploaded into the Verified app. Referees only need to participate in the interview once, and Verified takes care of scheduling and managing the process. Referees have control over their interviews, with options to be notified for approvals before their videos are shared and the ability to block certain companies from viewing their interviews. The referees have done their part and are now free to return to their own jobs.

Sellers then build a library of confidential reference videos that are available on-demand. Because the reference videos are available anytime, sellers can use them to differentiate the product early in the sales cycle rather than as a last-minute reality-check just before deal close. They no longer need to spend excessive time identifying references, requesting interviews, and scheduling calls. Sellers cannot view the reference interviews, but they can

access key metrics such as:

  • Which sections of the video, if any, have been watched (and rewatched)

  • Whether the prospect has forwarded the video within their organization

  • How credible, sincere, knowledgeable, and positive each reference is – as quantified by the reference Quality Index (QI).

Finally, buyers receive a link to any relevant reference interviews from the seller. Buyers can watch the videos at any time, in any order, at any speed. They don’t need to prepare anything. They can easily share the video within their organization. They can skip around to the topics that matter to them. They don’t need to wait around for anyone else’s schedule.

The Solution

Today, customer references are typically only used at the very end of the sales cycle, as if to say “See? I didn’t lie to you.” With Verified, sellers are enabled to share customer success stories and build credibility much earlier in the sales process. Reference interviews can be used to entice prospects and differentiate products and services, rather than as a simple reality-check.

Verified is more than the antidote to the frustration of the reference check process. Yes, it removes the headache and wasted time associated with recruiting, engaging, and enabling credible customer references. More importantly, it helps companies unlock the strategic value of their most valuable asset: their customers.


Interested in standing apart from the competition while eliminating customer reference burnout?

Reach out to the Verified team via the button below. We help organizations like yours accelerate your road to revenue.


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