How Startups Get Big Customer Trophy Names On Their Website

This is a case where you can’t apologize later, you need to ask permission first

Joe Procopio

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Before we begin, some truth.

Being able to disclose customer names in the promotion of your product or service is, in most cases, not a volume sales driver. It won’t move the needle as much as you’d hoped. It won’t get the flywheel up to light speed.

But it is an important sign of validation.

When your customer sees that a big company customer uses your product, they don’t think to themselves, “Oh, well if Google uses Product X then I need to be using Product X.”

But they might think, “Oh, well if Google uses Product X, then Product X is probably legit.”

To a startup, that can mean the difference between a quick no and a “tell me more.”

Especially in B2B sales, legitimacy is indeed a big deal, and customer badges and testimonials can help establish that legitimacy.

Getting permission to use those badges and testimonials usually follows the business Catch-22 rule stating: “The more important a thing is to have, the harder it is to get.”

So let’s go get that thing.

They’re Going to Say No

A little while back, I got a question from the founder and CEO of a company that developed a B2B training aid. They had just landed a big contract that was similar to another huge deal they had signed a few months earlier.

The previous customer had expressly prohibited the company from using their name for marketing purposes. The CEO was afraid that the new customer might do the same. So the CEO was wondering, essentially, if it was a good idea to use the new customer’s name, and then apologize later instead of asking permission first.

Now, I’m not naive. I know three things:

  1. The customer’s reflexive response is going to be outright refusal.
  2. There are plenty of times a startup founder needs to just do the thing and apologize later.
  3. They’re your customer, so you kind of have the right to let people know that. Right?

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com