Smart-Matching: The New Way to Connect Prospects and References

Sure, you have customers who are happy to vouch for you. That doesn't mean their experience is relevant to everyone else
Andrew Parker

Sure, you have customers who are happy to vouch for you. That doesn't mean their experience is relevant to everyone else's.

Like it or not, people are selfish with their time and money. Whenever you're selling to someone, their subconscious mind always asks, "What's in it for me?"

While it's tempting to use your top customers or ‘biggest successes’ as references across the board, doing so means you're leaving serious money on the table (as far as customer marketing and advocacy are concerned).

This is where smart-matching comes in — using data and technology to strategically match your references with specific prospects dramatically increases engagement and conversion rates.

What is prospect-reference smart-matching?

A customer reference is anyone who's willing to share positive feedback or a story about their experience with your product, service, or company. They're usually in the form of case studies, reviews, testimonials, video interviews, or reference calls between them and your prospect.

Smart-matching is the process of using data from both your prospects and references to match them based on specific criteria (e.g., things they share in common).

This can include:

  • Industry or vertical
  • Company size
  • Pain points
  • Business goals
  • Product use cases
  • Demographics
  • Firmographics

Maybe you've made it past step #1: building a customer advocacy program.

You've got tons of great feedback from your customers. You have real case studies. Word-of-mouth marketing has begun to work its magic.

Or so you think...

Normally, salespeople rely on their judgment of character and human instinct to pick the references they believe are most likely to resonate with a specific prospect. Or, they simply pull from a handful of typical success stories.

That's where prospect-reference matching wins big over traditional methods.

5 reasons to automate the customer reference matching process:

1. More relatable references = higher prospect engagement

90% of customers say it's "annoying" when companies or their sales reps send messages that aren't personally relevant to them.

A perfect example of an irrelevant message is a customer reference whose experience has nothing to do with theirs. It's a waste of time for both the prospect and the reference.

On the flip side, a reference who is (or was) in the same boat as your prospect is more likely to strike a chord with them.

This does more than simply keep them engaged. It lights the fire under them to take action.

2. Ads are personalized. Organic interactions should be, too.

Remember 15 years ago, when cable TV was the best way to get your entertainment fix? All the ads were generic, targeted at the masses.

Now, opening up Instagram or tuning in to Hulu w/ Ads is scary. You might see something you were talking about just 10 minutes prior.

But let's be real. We don’t care if our phones are listening to us. We all prefer the latter because they're more likely to show us something we'll actually be interested in.

Data from Marketing Charts underscores this trend perfectly: 66% of B2B buyers say they expect an equal or greater amount of personalization in their professional lives as they do in their personal ones.

Good news: You can do the same thing with organic interactions. 

A customer advocacy platform will show you which prospects are the best matches for a particular prospect based on context and past data.

From there, you can personalize your sales communications.

3. Prospects want to feel understood and seen.

When a prospect hears from someone who's in the same industry or has faced the same challenges, it creates an instant connection. And it adds an extra layer of credibility.

They feel like your company truly understands their world and can provide a solution that will work for them.

The flip side is also true: putting prospects in contact with references who have nothing to do with their situation can make them feel like your company doesn't really "get" them.

It wastes your time and theirs.

4. Your sales reps don't have time to play matchmaker.

As it is, the typical sales rep only spends 28% of their time on actual selling activities. According to research from Salesforce, almost three-quarters of their day is spent on clerical work, preparation and planning, and other back-office tasks.

The best way to improve sales efficiency is to make the process easier for your sales team. That includes automating the most time-consuming and error-prone ones first.

When it comes to finding the right customer references for each prospect, the challenge is twofold.

  • Their experience has to line up with that of your prospect's. They have to use the product in a similar way. And the goals they achieve from doing so need to align.
  • Context and timeliness also matter. The prospect needs to care about your reference's experience at that exact moment. Depending on the stage of the sales process or a decision-maker's role in the company, certain references will have more impact.

Smart prospect-reference matching eliminates the need for reps to to meticulously comb through your pool of references to find one that checks both of these boxes.

5. References enjoy being field experts.

A big reason customers are open to being references is that they want to be seen as thought leaders and experts in their respective field.

It's good for branding. It's good for business.

By automating the reference matching process, you're able to ensure every reference contribution moves the needle. And that's what they're looking for when they vouch for you.

Deeto's reference management system smart-matches prospects and customer references, so your customers' experiences are always timely and relevant. See how it works.