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.

A bit more here: It Might Be Time for You to Add a VP of Free | SaaStr and 5 Interesting Learnings From Zoom. As It IPOs. | SaaStr

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