We’ve been offering free trials of our software for years and have come to understand some of the pros and cons of doing so.
Pros to Offering Free Trials
- Helps assess how serious of a prospect you have
- Provides an opportunity for the prospect to interact with other members of your team (services, support, etc) and show them how great of a company you have
- Sets prospect expectations of what the product does and aligns interests with the company, proving that it is a good fit
- Provides a sense of urgency as the free trial will expire at a certain date
Cons to Offering Free Trials
- Usually more labor intensive, especially for more complex products as services and support teams need to be involved
- Can lengthen the sales cycle as the prospect might have to get other people from his/her organization involved, and actually do real installation work
- Some prospects will keep asking for free trial extensions, which can create an adverse situation with the sales person that wants to solidify the deal or walk away
A couple other items of note:
- The free trial is really a proof of concept project, and should be referred to as such
- Before doing the trial, clear success guidelines must be set up and agreed to by the prospect (e.g. in the proof of concept, we will show x,y, and z working resulting in some benefit, and culminating in the prospect signing a contract)
In almost all cases, I recommend offering free trials (proofs of concept).