What's the problem with references?

This is something of a personal gripe.

Since releasing my first book, The Ascension Legacy: Book 1 - The Shamed Ranger, I have been constantly inundated with phone calls and emails from groups trying to sell me services. Some offer to make me a website. Others to reduce the costs of my books to increase my royalties. One even offered to turn my book into a movie pitch for Hollywood. A few have offered multiple different things.

No matter what is pitched or how many different people from the same supposed group reach out to me, all such conversations always end at the same point. They try selling me on whatever angle they're taking that day and I ask for references. As soon as I ask for references the call goes off the rails or the email thread stops. Usually the calling party says that they can't provide me with any details about their other customers due to privacy concerns, which I sort of understand. I would be leery of handing out someone else's personal contact info to a stranger over the phone without prior approval.

It's the "prior approval" that seems to catch everyone out though. It seems that through all their years in the industry that I'm the first person to ever ask for references, which I bet is a lie but that's a different story for a different time. I've even gone as far as to offer to switch things up and have them give my contact info to their references for them to contact me through whatever means they are most comfortable whether that be email, telephone, text, or social media but oddly not a single time has anyone ever taken me up on that deal either.

As someone who has a day job in consulting, references are an everyday part of the job. Our salespeople have a list of current and former customers who have given us approval to share their contact information with potential customers who share a similar area of industry or product focus. We give out telephone numbers and emails every day for business purposes, but only with prior approval from those whose information is being distributed.

When someone contacts me in a solicitation effort to sell me something I didn't ask for, I am going to need references to verify the value and legitimacy of whatever deal is being propositioned. I can be gullible but not that gullible.

If you have a legit business and that business involves making cold sales calls then you are going to have references. And I mean more than just "check out the reviews posted on our website" type references. I mean, you are likely prepared to facilitate a meeting of some kind whether it be direct or indirect with a customer who was happy with your services.

It has become a line in the sand for me in dealing with these groups. No references, no deal. And so far after receiving roughly 2 dozen of these offers I have yet to receive a single reference. In many cases, the mere mention of requiring references causes the salesperson to run in fear. Most of the interactions are done via email and most of my "no references, no deal" emails are the last email in the thread. Most of the time, they don't even bother to reply to try and argue about how I don't need references or they can't provide them, though a few had tried and failed with that approach.

To me, if I have to provide references on a job application then any salesperson trying to cold-contact someone to sell services should be prepared and ready to provide references. The idea that references aren't needed is a joke and to me a sure sign of a scam. If you can't prove you are who you claim to be and that you can produce the results you are claiming to provide through whatever services you are trying to sell then you really aren't trying to sell anything but a lie.

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