Q: Why don’t more SaaS companies offer very long trial periods of, say, one year, to encourage vendor lock-in?
Maybe they do, in a way.
Maybe the fact that you can use the Free editions of Slack and Zoom, in particular, for years without needing to upgrade is sort of a very long trial period.
Stewart Butterfield suggested that to me when I talked to him about their Free edition a few weeks back:
But you do need to do this right:
- A long free trial is tough on the sales team. They’ll often push for the shortest possible trial period, often 14 days. They don’t even like 30 days, because they have a plan to hit for the month, after all.
- A long free trial can create a lot of noise. How do you know if the “customer” truly cares if they aren’t paying?
- Who owns it? Making a trial successful is often work. If your product is simple to use, maybe the trial doesn’t need a real-world / human owner. But if it does, it’s hard to keep someone’s attention for a long period of time.
Still, in many ways, Year 1 really is a trial. Whether you are paying or not.