I had planned to riff on the emerging discussion around Ross Mayfield's Social CRM iceberg and social software post but Paul Greenberg has done a great job of bringing that together. He's the CRM subject matter expert among the Irregulars so it's his play.
Even so, the discussion brought me back to a conversation I had with a soon-to-be-ex-mainstream analyst (no names, no pack drill) the other day about deal terms and a similar conversation I had today with a soon-to-be client. The conversations were very similar. A couple of slightly reworked snippets that are family friendly and convey the essence:
"Yeah, we're in the final stages of getting this deal done and now it's just a case of getting them to take out the clause that talks about them being a referenceable customer the moment the ink is dry on the contract. Can you believe but it's proving to be a sticking point? How crazy is that?"
"I remember writing those terms where the customer was not only referenceable but committed to turning up at user gigs at least twice a year for the next three years and tell the assembled audience just how great we are and signing off on our press releases. Absolutely insisted on that and got it during those crazy heady days when customers would sign anything put under their nose."
How times have changed and I am convinced that part of the reason is because some of 'us' ain't going to stop advocating for the buyer side until the big software vendors 'get it.' There is no hiding place for those of us who long ago realized that the PR tsunami that leads the marketing way is a busted flush.
As I've bleated for more than 15 years: I don't care what your marketing or PR is like, no-one speaks louder for you than the customer who speaks candidly and in unfiltered fashion to your potential customer. Now we have the social-ized means to facilitate that and why not? Peer-to-peer has always been more valuable than anything I can say as hand waver/analyst/PR wonk/blogger/consultant/trusted adviser. As Vinnie Mirchandani says:
The world has moved on - as I wrote there are often a thousand points of influence in a complex technology decision - but seems like AR folks want to cling to a narrow (and shrinking) definition of market influencers.
My hope is that one day, Ross's interpretation of the 1/9/90 rule is turned around so that the 1 is 10, as he believes it will be. As Paul says:
If done right, the customer experience is such that they can and will become advocates.
What could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah - those pesky referral terms go out the window, legal has less to do, customers are happier...