Free Trials Done Right Work. But Here Are 5 Times They Don’t.

Q: Is free trialing still an effective way to get customers in your B2B SaaS these days?

Free Trials are Great.  And really, it would be great if every app had one today.  It’s 2020!

But they don’t always work. It depends.  We aren’t all Zoom.

5 Interesting Learnings From Zoom When It IPO’d

Downsides to Free Trials:

  • The Free Trial Has To Work — and Be Great. If your app requires a lot of data to input to get value from, or requires real business process change … the prospects probably won’t bother during a Free Trial. So they may have a worse experience than if you did a carefully planned Pilot.
  • Many Bigger Customers Don’t Want A Free Trial.  They Want You To Do The Work for Them. Yes, you and I prefer a Free Trial. But many more enterprise buyers don’t want to do the work. They want the vendor to set everything up, do the onboarding, etc. Many likely would prefer a carefully planned Pilot, run by a human — free or paid.
  • Your Software Has To Be Good Enough to Self-Onboard. Many vendors build products that are powerful, but not elegant enough for a free trial really to be awesome. If your product doesn’t, in essence, auto-onboard the users in seconds or at least minutes, it’s not good enough for a Free Trial.  Be honest.  Is your team really good enough to build an awesome Free Trial?
  • A Free Trial Will Drive A Lot of Low-End Users That Never Pay Very Much. If you want to close $50k or $100k deals, you may not want 100s and 1000s of folks that will never pay that much using your product. They can also overwhelm support and other systems.
  • Can Damage Your Brand If Not Done Well. Again, if the Free Trial / Free version isn’t great, that can lead to negative brand impacts. An awesome Free edition can spread positive word-of-mouth across the globe. But a subpar experience can damage your brand.

The products we love and admire the most have Free Trials and Free Editions. Most products should have one.

But it doesn’t always work, and isn’t always the right choice, especially in the enterprise.

Published on June 18, 2020

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