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Are customer references really best practice?

The other day I demonstrated our software for a potential client. They contacted me as well as a few other competitors in the GPS fleet management space, which is a good idea when looking at investing long-term in a fleet management solution.

The demo went well. The potential client had one more request. He asked that I provide three references before he would move forward. I said "Sorry, I can’t do that." Now, you are probably saying “What! Why not?” References are best practice. Right?!

I could not give this prospect what he had asked for because of our privacy policy. We don't disclose customers to any prospects, unless specific permission is granted by an existing customer for a particular prospective customer. We don't advertise who our customers are. We take our customers' privacy very seriously.

Now I could have asked any number of our customers to be a reference for us… But would you, as a busy company, like to take time out of your day to take a phone call or reply to an email for an unrelated matter to your business? We wouldn't, and we guess neither would you.

Are customer references really necessary? We don’t think so. And in fact, we propose a better alternative.

As the prospective customer, ask a potential GPS tracking vendor—that is,a competitor to GPS Police—if you can test their product on a trial basis before you fully commit. At GPS Police we gladly offer a 30-day trial of our system to any prospect.

Why is a trial a better than a customer reference?

Trials are better than references because it allows you to have first-hand experience with more than just the software user interface. Trials allow the entire sales cycle, installation, and support cycle to be completely tested and analyzed. It allows you to quickly answer these questions:

Installation

  • How was the initial sales and shipping?
  • How did the overall installation go?

Software

  • How is the software user experience?
  • Can I quickly learn system without reading a manual, or do I need to be a computer expert?
  • How easy it it to create alerts and customize reports?
  • How reliable is the equipment?
  • How accurate is the reported information?

Customer Support

  • How friendly and helpful is customer service?
  • Does customer service respond to support emails quickly?
  • Are phone calls returned promptly?
What you need to know

So you are a company looking for a fleet management solution? We suggest: Try two or three companies simultaneously and decide which is best for you. If a company does not offer a trial, and us unwilling to let you try the service without locking you into a contact... Perhaps there is a reason?

To be continued...