We no longer do try and buy programs. We’ve found that customers would use our unit to lever our competitors down in price, and extract additional concessions from them. Just walk them by our box with the blinkenlights, and the nice logos … scared quite a few sales reps into submission. Then we get our box back after the other vendor is suitably scared.
There’s no upside for us, at all. So we stopped doing it.
We’ve been asked all manner of interesting requests. Usually customers want maxed out machines … you know, the ones that it costs us a great deal of money to build, and they want to borrow it for a few weeks to play with it. The first time we tried this was a national lab, who proceeded to write a nice report on their evaluation of a competitive box, and mentioned ours in passing. Turns out they had no real interest in the boxes.
This is part of the learning process. Times have changed, economics no longer favor these activities. Customers whom are really interested will take our offer of remote access when units are available. Customers who aren’t really interested? Nope, won’t see anything from them.
Even the remote access folks are a risk. Some times it works out well. Sometimes not so much.
We try to be flexible and enable our customers to test the machines in advance. But we have to do so with an eye towards the bottom line. So we don’t spend time/effort/money on things with zero possibility of a return on investment.