In the last few years, every time I spoke to a VC, I would ask them to share a nugget of wisdom with me -- some piece of knowledge that was important to them. Since I was giving them insights into our industry, I figured that they in return could give me some thought-provoking idea. They usually complied. Some were lame, some were great. But one of my favorites was to do a reference customer adoption program.
The idea is that one of the best ways to get great reference customers is to have each member of the management team "adopt" a customer. This means they have to visit them, listen to their needs, help plan their rollout, understand the metrics they're tracking, and basically act as a free implementation consultant to guide them towards a successful rollout. In return, we learn about what it takes to make our product successful at a ground level, and hopefully we get a solid case study.
At this point, Sam, Scott, Bill, Matt and I have almost all selected our "adopted customers" for the plan. They're all great customers who have a vision for collaboration and the sponsorship to make it happen. I don't think we can talk about who each selected yet (have to deal with legal departments), but I hope to have some more stories soon.