Yup. That's what we had to find. One of the requirements of a recent RFP was to provide a reference that is no longer a customer. So a friendly ex. I thought our recent blog post was a good example of people asking the strangest things, but this even is stranger! Finding a match seemed impossible but was actually easier than we expected. First tip, never delete customer records from your reference listing. Whether you use a spreadsheet or a DB keep them all. You never know when even “not referenceable” accounts will come in handy. Next tip. Keep 'qualitative' notes about the status of your references. That's how we found our match.
We reviewed the records for companies not currently referenceable and found one that was perfect. The notes from our outreach, plus additional information from the sales rep, told us they had done a pilot project, loved the product, but failed to get funding. They were just the friendly ex we needed. Not a customer, but with lots of good things to say to a prospect.
Bottom line - keep your data, keep good notes, and expect the unexpected when dealing with customer references!