Learn the Advantages of a Free Trial

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • List the advantages of offering a free trial of your product.
  • Propose some ways that a trial can help your product succeed.
  • Identify some specific strategies for making your trial more effective.

Something for Nothing, for Now

You’ve probably heard the expression “Try before you buy.” Catchy? Definitely. Cliché? Perhaps. But there’s no better way to figure out whether you actually need something than to use it without worrying about wasting money.

This isn’t a new idea in sales. Search “free trial” online and you can find something to try for free in just about every market. Free trials for software have been available for decades. In fact, it’s pretty hard to think of a major software product that doesn’t have some sort of free trial version.

Your customers are looking for a solution to their problem, and they might have plenty of options. If you think your solution is the best of the bunch, why not let people take it for a test drive?

Free Trials Are Built into Our Platform

Ordinarily, you’d have to do a lot of work to build a free trial mechanism into your software. In the time it takes you to hammer out details like licensing terms, trial environments, and features, you could get a lot of work done on the actual product.

But you’re a Salesforce partner, which is anything but ordinary! Salesforce has offered its customers free trials from the beginning. In fact, we’re among the first enterprise software companies to offer a completely functional free trial. It’s worked out pretty well for us.

So it’s no surprise that AppExchange was built with free trials in mind. And because our partners are the folks who make AppExchange successful, we’ve done our best to take care of all the administrative details so you can focus on your customers’ experiences, both in your free trial and in the actual product.

Adding a free trial to your product is not quite as easy as flipping a switch—some planning is involved—but it’s much easier than rewiring everything yourself. And if you build a trial with the tools we give you, we help you convert your prospects to paying customers.

It’s All in the License

What’s the big difference between a trial and the full version of an app? Ignoring technical details, the trial and the full version are the same software with different licenses. The trial expires after some time, while the full version stays around.

The License Management App

How do you control which license your trial uses? There’s an app for that: the License Management App (LMA). With it, you attach a license to each of your apps. Trials get their own licenses, since their terms are different from full apps. The LMA manages the details of the license and records information about prospects who purchase your offerings.

The trial technology Salesforce provides works seamlessly with the LMA to help you convert your prospects. Every time someone requests a trial from you, we put a lead record in your LMA automatically. So trials really do lead to sales.

We don’t show you how to set up your LMA here. AppExchange partners should understand how licensing works on AppExchange, though. Look in the Resources section for some helpful links.

Free Trials Aren't Just for Customers

Customers love free trials because they get to use a cool product for free, at least for a little while. But free trials can make life easy for other people, too—even your colleagues.

A businesswoman demoing an app for two businessmen

Maybe your sales team gives demos of your product to various customers. Wouldn’t it be great to hand them several different trial orgs with customized sample data, so they can give demos that are tailored to their customers?

Or maybe your training or documentation team needs a preconfigured environment to demonstrate or explain a feature. Wouldn’t it be great to give them one? How about one for each release? What about a different environment for each team member?

It’s not hard to imagine all sorts of clever ways to use a preconfigured org.

In this module we show you how to create customized free trials, configure them specifically, and populate them with various datasets. You’ll be amazed at what you can do!

Don't Forget to Sell Your Product

Giving your customers a free trial or a demo is a great way to get their attention, but their hearts will wander if you don’t deliver the goods. Use your free trial to construct an experience that draws them in.

Use your prospects to find out the needs in your target market, and make it easy for them to see how your product helps them get it. If you work with customers from specific industries, create mockups that use sample data illustrating tasks and workflows specific to each of their industries. If they are likely to start using the product in their work right away, make sure they can keep their work if they purchase the full version.

Above all, use the trial as an opportunity to show them what distinguishes you from your competitors. Showing is so much better than telling. And you might even get some useful feedback from your prospects. A free trial for them can translate to free advice for you!

Now let’s find out what kinds of trials you can offer your customers.


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