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Your Free Trial Button is Broken

*This is not about trials with a rep attached. This is about the ‘Free Trial!’ button on your website. 

**And that’s assuming the button actually leads to a trial and not a sales call. Right: if you’re dropping your prospects directly from the website into a build experience, then this is for you. 

Is your free trial showing your best parts - or just introducing prospects to the worst of you? 

I know, I know - everyone does free trials. Prospects are even asking for it earlier in the process. They want to try it out and keep it if they like it. No time for a full demo - "just let me use it and see if it does what I need," they request.

But that “use it and see what it does” is not what your trial period is actually delivering

Instead, you’re offering the homework of installing and setting up software. It’s actually the worst part. “Free Homework!” is now your primary website CTA. 

They’re saying that a typical freemium model sees two thirds of their leads drop out before completing the process. It’s as close to free revenue (no sales touch) when it works, but why does it fail so much

Let’s talk about why that’s happening. 

First - you picked the trial length as a function of sales process instead of average time to value. Again, your trial is all of the set up and training required to get started. It often includes integrations and configuration calls, as well as user training and sometimes the data or inputs just need literal time to accumulate before your software can do it’s thing.

So, the first few weeks are a wash. All effort and no dopamine. And then, just when things are about to start throwing wins, your sales rep says it’s approaching the end of your two week trial... You gonna buy or what?

You need to figure out what your time to value is - how long it takes your prospect to go from the first click in your product to getting real, actual value from your software. 

Second - you fell for your own hype. There’s a magic wand in everyone’s product: some new capability or feature that has the highest hit rate on getting that “wow!” reaction from prospects. So, you try to make sure you deliver that during a trial.

But you’re so focused on really delivering that one thing that your focus is too narrow. Why does the trial have to be their data? Why does the trial have to be you starting from scratch and wowing a customer before getting paid?

Can’t you just enable your demo/sandbox account to be used by prospects? It’s a proof of concept: are you too focused on the proof being their data?

Your free trial is giving your potential customers all the headaches of setting up your product, for just the hope your wow switch activates in time. Drop them into a cooking show where all the hard work is done for them ahead of time and they just get to ice your cake.

Third - you’re single threading your trials. Desperate sales reps have been scolded so many times for this. Don’t let yourself get single-threaded. Work with your champion, but make sure you make connections and win support throughout the org.

But what about the freemium trial that starts with a single click on your website? How does that get multi-threaded? Does it? Probably not, since one of the most common reasons a freemium trial fails is that the person clicking the free trial button does not have the authority to grant/install the trial (sales reps that need API access, etc etc).

You need trial experiences that spotlight the outcomes that each relevant persona seeks. You need a delivery model (organic sharing among your customers inside an organization) or through automation from your product, or through brute force from the supporting sales staff.

Fourth - and this is the real kicker. Your go-to-market team picked your strategy without consulting the build team. Does your product even turn on like that?

There are products that are easy to set up and use, and there are products that could never been onboarded through a touchless experience. There’s an entire spectrum here, and if you’re not a clear and obvious Product Led company, then you need to spot and build bridges to help your prospects get over the gaps.

Identify the weaknesses in your freemium approach. Is there an ‘authority gap’ on the install? Are prospects leery of uploading their real data? Is the config too cumbersome? Are your Wow! moments hidden from view?

Track down the most common blockers to success and deploy your build team and your sales team to unblock.

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Photo by Jonas Denil on Unsplash