the Kickoff meeting in January 1995, the first ten success stories
were researched, written, and approved by customers. But neither
Dunn nor Callan was close to satisfied, and so the project proceeded
at a rapid pace. By April, a critical mass of about 50 success
stories was ready for use and the first edition of the MGC Customer
Reference Database was published in hard copy form and distributed
to every MGC sales office.
from the sales force were so overwhelmingly positive that Dunn
immediately issued another contract so that Callan could continue
building up the database. "Fifty references might sound
pretty good," said Dunn, "but we wanted to have references
for all our major products for all their purposes in all our
major markets. We wanted to make sure references existed for
our most important partners, and we wanted to show why we were
chosen over each of our biggest competitors. Covering all the
bases like that requires a lot of references."
October of 1995 the database had grown to about a hundred references,
and the second edition was published. Still the project continued,
and for the first time it entailed updates as well as new stories.
Older references were revisited to keep information current
and to weed out references that were no longer useful. "We
felt it was very important that our salespeople trust the database,
and that called for keeping it up to date," explained Dunn.
"If they employed it a couple of times only to find that
customers were no longer referenceable for some reason, they'd
stop using it and we'd lose sales. Periodic updates kept that
project continued on a six-month delivery cycle of new and updated
success stories in hard copy form, which MGC published each
time in a handsome binder, until 1996 when they augmented the
binder by publishing an electronic edition on the MGC internal
website. Now salespeople can access references from their desktops
using a very sophisticated search engine that allows a user
to enter, say, a product name, an industry, and a partner -
and up will pop a list of the existing references from that
industry using that product in conjunction with that partner.
One click later, the success story and all ancillary data about
that reference are on the screen.
has the database benefited MGC sales? A poll of MGC salespeople
that was conducted in late 1995 demonstrated that the project
had paid for itself many times over. Some verbatim comments:
a big proponent of the Ref DB. It's helped me close two test
deals this year. I find it a very quick way to generate high
quality references instead of calling around hit-and-miss trying
to find them from other account managers and then qualify them."
working a deal right now which will probably be between $750
and $1 million where I'm using the Ref DB specifically for telecom
accounts. They wanted references in the same industry and of
used it in a presentation to a Vice President to make a case
for some products. It turned out to be very valuable. The sheer
size of it had an impact. It was useful to see what others are
doing, and the lookup tables are great. This is a good size
order, about a $2M project."
used the Ref DB recently, and I'm expecting an order for $235K
for Top-Down design."
were able to obtain several good references that were instrumental
in convincing the customer to go with us instead of a competitive
environment. This deal is about $650K and we anticipate closing
it in December."
one requires a litany on the benefits of references and success
stories, but why choose Callan & Associates specifically
for creating them? Dunn's response: "Probably the biggest
thing is the trust factor, the fact that I felt I could trust
Callan & Associates to interface directly with our customers.
They're good people who speak the language and understand the
business. I could turn customer communication over to them with
is no longer employed by Mentor Graphics, but is available to
serve as a reference. Callan & Associates would be pleased
to put interested parties in touch with her.