Many businesses are, understandably, reaching out to their B2B partners to work out new payment terms in order to save money as budgets are cut and revenue streams dry up during the COVID pandemic. Renegotiation works both ways, so it’s time to turn lemons into lemonade and think about what to ask for in return without being opportunistic. One approach is to ask for customer testimonials and quality referrals in exchange for contract discounts and incentives. Renegade LLC, a marketing agency based in New York City, has a whole chapter dedicated to cultivating customer champions in their B2B brand strategy report, but here’s the gist of why this approach is necessary for brands: It helps your clients out, costs them nothing, and it will set your company up for future success because there’s nothing more powerful than a customer’s recommendation to secure new business. Here we can cite Yana Nigen, CMO of JobDiva: “Marketing became simple in the past 12-24 months as our highest source of lead traffic comes from client referrals.” Chip Rodgers, CMO at Workspan, talks about the business value of strong customer references in his Renegade Thinkers Unite interview: “It’s everything,” explains Rodgers. “It’s so much more valuable and credible when those kinds of stories and messages and comments—and the positive reinforcing dynamic—comes from customers rather than just us blasting out the next message.” Among many of the things Rodgers has done to generate valuable B2B customer case studies and testimonials, it helps to have customer marketing staff specifically dedicated to these relationships in order to put your customers in front of prospects in a way that makes those customers look good and helps them take advantage of all that your product or service has to offer. As marketing expert Drew Neisser notes in his recent B2B demand generation report, “The conversation needs to be initiated as it often reveals other potential cracks in the relationship, cracks that you can address to keep the business.” If you don’t have someone dedicated to this already, now’s the time. Many companies are hesitant to participate due to concerns about competitors or security issues, so they need someone there to remind them that the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. It’s also important to guide your customer through the testimonial process as painlessly as possible—and this is a good time to point out the value of having a clear brand purpose. Like F5 Network’s CMO and CXO, Mika Yamamoto, said in her recent interview on the Renegade Thinkers Unite podcast, “If you’ve ever tried to get a customer evidence piece out of a customer, it’s usually a negotiation.” In order to remove this friction, Yamamoto believes their unifying brand purpose, “code connects us all,” resonated with clients in a way that not only made it easier to provide a testimonial, but it made it exciting. B2B brands that successfully create such purpose-based, customer-generated content are sure to win in the long term. Why? Because their messaging isn’t focused on selling their product, it’s focused on their commitment to a greater cause by showcasing the great work their customers have been able to achieve—thus making their company promise real and not just a coat of paint.