An ex-customer as a reference?

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!

People ask for the strangest things

“Let me get this straight, your customer wants to implement software using a methodology we don’t recommend?  And they want a reference customer who will tell them it’s OK?”    Yes, that’s what I heard the other day.  For several of our customers we do the ‘matchmaking’ of sales rep or marketing request to the customer reference which best meets the need.   Usually the request is for a customer in a similar industry, or using a particular product or product feature, maybe they want someone in a specific geographic area or a current customer the same size as a prospect.   In this case the sales rep had a prospect who wanted to talk to a current customer who had implemented in a way that’s specifically not recommended!   In the end we helped the sales rep realize this wasn’t a good idea, for many reasons.  He went back to the customer so implementation would follow best practices. 

Not only do we do reference matching but sometimes we need to provide guidance on strategies to overcome issues and keep sales moving forward.  But it really is true, people ask for the strangest things.