How did this concept begin? I'd really like to know so that I could figure out a way to kill it. In a similar vein of thought where we need to address the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) associated with IP Telephony, we need to end the "Try It and Buy It" requests and offers. If the IP PBX, IAD or media gateway has been certified to work with a given carrier AND the CPE has been properly configured, then it is going to work. Most ITSPs cannot afford to allocate resources to prospects who want to test drive a SIP Trunk prior to signing an agreement to purchase. Most prospects that make the request aren't even willing to agree to make the purchase, if it works. So, I ask again, "What is the origin of this idea?"
I surmise it goes back centuries with food as the impetus for the concept. I can see an agrarian troglodyte wanting to trade a delectable delight for another utilitarian item and offering just a taste to seal the deal. In the not too distant past, we have evidence of such offers in the 1950s regarding the 1951 Studebaker (The thrifty one for 51). This has evolved into "try it and buy it" offers for music, software, appliances and many other things, in fact too many things.
Broadvox has thousands of customers and has been in business for over eight years, why is that not enough to assure a prospect that the technology works? Why does sales even relay these requests? Okay, I know the answer to that one, "quotas, commissions, and livelihood". That aside, our industry needs to learn to refuse these requests. They cost us precious money, time and resources. We recently began offering a 30-day guarantee to these hesitant buyers. It has helped. We get them to sign a contract for the service and they get to use the service knowing they can cancel. The success rate for this type of offer far exceeds the "try and buy it, no skin in the game giveaway." The IP community needs to stop acquiescing to these fearful, indecisive or opportunistic prospects. Our primary use of resources should be allocated to maintaining our networks, satisfying our customers and evolving our technology and services to meet future requirements.
It takes an effort to turn these profit-cutting requests into a "come on in, the waters fine" invitation. Get your educational white papers written, references set, testimonials in place and turn the tire kickers into buyers. With these accomplished, you will dramatically increase your close rate and improve your margins.
See you on Monday with more food and SIP thoughts...