driving customer leverage for organic growth
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Learn about the origination of Customer Leverage in this Q&A with partners Promise Phelon and Steven Nicks

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Meet Our Team

"Applying customer leverage methodology to reference programs is a specialized expertise. For our clients, it is undoubtedly about the people we hire." - Steven Nicks, partner

Phelon Group consultants are leading the innovation of customer reference programs to drive more value from a critical asset—customers. From in-depth research to establishing best practices in engagements with leading companies, our consultants are thought leaders who are evolving customer reference programs to a distinct and powerful business strategy.

Promise Phelon, Partner

"To say that reference customers are an extension of your sales force is not only unrealistic, it's an insult to your relationship with them and a gross understatement of what is possible."

Areas of Expertise

  • Customer relationship and strategy innovator
  • Building the business case

Promise's Background

Promise Phelon is founding partner of The Phelon Group and leads the firm by studying and analyzing enterprise markets to develop strategies that help the firm's clients anticipate and meet changing market directions head-on. She is the recognized thought leader in developing and applying Customer Leverage principles to customer reference programs. Promise has helped market-leading companies such as Adobe, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Intel minimize sales cycles, maximize marketing impact and strengthen crucial customer relationships through Customer Leverage initiatives. Prior to founding The Phelon Group, Promise held senior marketing positions as Sales Enablement, Product Strategy and Product Marketing Manager at BEA Systems, and also worked with other leaders such as SAP and KPMG. Promise is an accomplished author, serving as columnist and thought leader for many industry publications.


Steven Nicks, Partner

"There is often a disconnect between strategic planning and how an organization is managed. You might create a strategy once a year because it's part of your annual budget process. But how useful is that? Creating a strategy you can really use in your day-to-day decision making is of real value."

Areas of Expertise

  • Organization and process design
  • Reference management systems and enabling technology
  • Change management
  • Strategic planning

Steven’s Background

Steven is a founding partner of The Phelon Group and leads the firm’s operations and service delivery. With more than 15 years of proven experience in strategy, CRM, project management and large-scale enterprise implementations, Steven brings a strong consulting background and a unique blend of innovation, strategic thinking and the ability to understand technology from both a business and technical perspective. Steven honed his consulting expertise at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young, and also served in senior marketing management and operations for eAssist Global Solutions and 3M Europe.


Dianna Sadlouskos, Principal

“The whole notion of bringing strategic change to customer reference programs is right on target because there’s such a great value to be had from leveraging references in the sales cycle enterprise-wide.” 

Areas of Expertise

  • Program and process diagnosis
  • Business operations design
  • Global education and e-learning
  • Enterprise sales and service

Dianna’s Background

Dianna brings to The Phelon Group more than 20 years of experience helping public and private sector organizations optimize performance through a holistic approach to internal and external reform. Dianna developed a strong background in enterprise technology sales and organizational process and design while at IBM Business Consulting (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting). Most recently she worked in enterprise solution sales with Microsoft Corporation where she led strategy development, execution and sales of their e-learning solution. Dianna is a published author and has also presented at conferences on e-learning, strategic change and reference program management.


Lucy Sanna, Consultant

“As organizations evolve, they need to continually assess their target industries and identify successful customers; they also need to develop a way to collect and feed that industry and customer intelligence throughout the organization.”

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing strategy development
  • Reference program and customer relationship management
  • Compelling content development for marketing and sales

Lucy’s Background

Lucy Sanna is an award-winning marketer who brings many years of experience marketing and publicizing high tech products and services. Lucy manages the development and delivery of key tools that move buyers throughout the sales cycle. Prior to joining The Phelon Group, Lucy worked in various director level positions with Wells Fargo, PowerPoint, Collabria, and other Silicon Valley startups. She also served as Principal Manager for Oracle’s Customer Reference Program.


Kathleen McBride, Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Reference customer relationship management
  • Reference Management Systems implementation

Kathleen’s Background

Kathleen brings extensive reference program management both at the strategic and tactical levels. In addition to managing high-level strategic customer relationships in senior roles with Adobe, palmOne and Commerce One, Kathleen has extensive cross-functional experience working with both marketing and sales to successfully leverage customer relationships. She also has managed the development and implementation of multiple Reference Management Systems.


 Tim Misuradze, Consultant

“Many sales reps leverage references only after engaged in deals. But from my experience I can tell you that Sales can and should leverage references in the ‘prospecting phase’ of the sales cycle. Establishing contact, qualifying and educating prospective clients early in sales processes are key to becoming a trusted advisor.”

Areas of Expertise

  • Sales strategy and tactics
  • Sales tools and buying cycles

Tim’s Background

With nearly two decades of sales experience, Tim has first-hand knowledge about the value of customer leverage throughout the customer lifecycle: from generating prospects and closing deals to building long-term customer relationships. Most recently in his role as Senior Account Executive with Digital Think, Tim’s talents were honed with clients such as The Walt Disney Company, Hilton Hotels and American Honda as he successfully developed and implemented strategic opportunities. Tim has also served in sales roles at Mirror Image Internet, ADP, Clarke-American and IBM.


Ken Benson, Consultant

“Customer leverage is going to positively change the sales motion and emotion. Sales is somewhat going through a change anyway because of SFA technology and productivity tools—leverage adds more value to that motion. The emotion has to do with making intangible connections tangible.”

Areas of Expertise

  • Executive and corporate alignment
  • Building customer-centric organizations
  • Tying strategy to measurable results

Ken’s Background

Ken’s area of expertise is in helping customer organizations discover, leverage and communicate their core competencies and unique value propositions. Most recently, Ken served as Director of Technology Industry Marketing at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he solidified and articulated visions, strategies and directions of strategic and tactical marketing teams.  Ken has also served as Vice President for Teris Consulting Group’s StorageTek global business unit, Managing Partner of AT&T Global Information Systems, Director at Wang Laboratories, and Senior Manager at KPMG Peat Marwick.


Marketing & Business Team

Suzanne Hornby, Business Operations Manager

Suzy McKee, Marketing Director



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