Your Software Doesn’t Need A Free Trial. Stop Giving It Away.

I think the free trial paradigm is completely wrong. I think we have all decided to take the easy way out by giving people free access to what we do, because we either don’t have the guts to stand by it, or we want to take the easy way out and not have to sell it, and both approaches are bullshit.

It’s just forcing your customers to be indifferent.

The free trial is intended to get a “might as well” response. Hey, do you want this software? Well, you might as well try it. That’s such an unmotivated response to a sales pitch, and it just leaves you with a prospect who doesn’t even care enough about what you’re doing to invest a dime.

They haven’t been persuaded. They haven’t been hooked. They haven’t even really been sold to at all. They’ve just been handed a free can of Pepsi Max outside a train station. Where was the valuable, insightful, cutting edge pitch that has the power to turn a customer into a fucking fan? Nowhere. The free trial was a crutch, an excuse, a reason not to have to sell.

Why wouldn’t the customer be indifferent? There’s no reason for them not to be.

It’s increasing your trial rate at the cost of your close rate.

You’re going to get the time wasters, who were never going to use your damn software, who would never have converted, if you hadn’t been giving it the hell away. I have always found that the best way to filter through the folks who were never going to buy, is to make them fucking buy. The ones who were actually serious prospects are going to be okay with putting their money where their mouth is, or at least going through a demo.

If you want to get a whole bunch of people through the door and then waste your time trying to persuade them to buy, be my guest. But just be aware that your close rate is going to be suboptimal on these, because you’re trying to sell to people who had no intent to buy – just intent to try.

You aren’t showing your value.

If you believed in your value, you’d say it. You’d state it. You’d live by it. There’s a reason I don’t even give away a free consultation. I charge a buck every time I talk to anyone about marketing. Look – my time is worth a lot more than $1, but it’s also worth way more than zero, which is what you’re pricing yourself at when you give everything away.

I stand by my value, and I always will. You need to stand by your value, too. If you want to sell software, sell software. Don’t try and weasel your way in on a free coupon.