Do You Have an Executive Sponsor With Political Influence and Budget Authority?


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In our last post on the checklist for a successful customer reference program, we discussed making sure that the value of customer references is fully acknowledged by sales and marketing. The next important question on the checklist is whether you have an executive sponsor? In our experience many do not.

While it is important to have a manager that supports you, that is not an executive sponsor. Even if your boss is a VP, he or she may not really be an appropriate executive sponsor. A customer reference program is a challenging, cross-company initiative. To be successful, we’ve found you need someone with a visible and respected position who has:

- The ability to work with other groups. You will want your customer reference program to work effectively with other sales, marketing and company initiatives. This can be a challenge for an individual who works solely with one group. 

- The ability to secure funding. In order to run an effective customer reference program you will likely need some level of budget. 

- The ability to help create and maintain credibility. You will need a person who has the respect of the majority of your employees. This will help convey the importance of the program and keep the momentum going. 

An executive sponsor is someone with the influence to mobilize and energize the people you need. You, of course, will be responsible for taking the action to complete the tasks. If you are not sure how to enlist an executive sponsor first take the time to really understand your organization, because the organization chart may not tell the whole story. Networking with many people will help you gain access to key executives. This can be a challenge if you do not hold a management title in your company however; even working with your own manager can help you gain access to higher ups. As you begin to talk with others make sure you have a solid justification, clear vision, and lucid plan so that you can communicate your goals and demonstrate your accomplishments. This will help get people on board quickly.

Once you have secured your executive sponsor, keep the communication lines open so that your sponsor can maintain consistency. Remember that this will not always be your executive sponsor’s top priority, so demonstrate your ability to adapt to the changing priorities and find ways to make it easy for your sponsor to continue advocating your program.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joshua Horwitz
Boulder Logic
Joshua Horwitz is president and a founder at Boulder Logic, a company specializing in customer reference management. Companies with complex products and selling cycles rely on Boulder Logic for an easy-to-deploy, highly customizable enterprise solution to accelerate sales and marketing using their existing customers. Blog:


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