SaaS Sales: What’s the best way to respond when a potential customer wants a longer free trial than you are willing to give? #Q&A

SaaS Sales: What’s the best way to respond when a potential customer wants a longer free trial than you are willing to give? #Q&A

By Zeeva Viola | March 9, 2017


We do a two-week free trial for our SaaS app and really want to hold to that length. Often we’ll have a customer ask for a longer trial. While we can provide that, we don’t want to in most cases. What’s the best way to respond to this request?


Several answers suggest extending your trial period. I disagree, disagree, disagree.

My hunch is that your prospects asking for a longer trial tell you:

“I just didn’t get to it because I was really busy.”

This tells you that:

  • You didn’t create urgency or gain commitment from the prospect before the trial started.
  • The prospect asked for a free trial because they were too nice to tell you they’re not interested.
  • The prospect doesn’t really know why or how they’ll use your product and they’re hoping that a free trial will magically help them see the light.

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Which means that you need to:

  • Improve your situational analysis before starting the free trial.
  • Create rules and expectations for your trial.
  • Cut bait when your free trials are not willing to play by these rules.

Rules for your free trials:

  1. Reduce your trial to one week and start all free trial requests from the previous week at the same time. Run your trials from Monday to Friday. Tell your prospects that you actively engage with your free trials and that you can only support a certain number per week in order ensure their success.
  2. Mutually determine what you will measure and expected outcomes. Set up the rules of trial so both sides have clear expectations. For example, let’s say you’re selling email marketing software. Determine the click-through and response rates AND gain commitment that if you meet these expectations, the prospect will buy your product. They may be a little wary of this, in which case you have more situational analysis to do.
  3. Schedule a 30 minute call to initiate the first login and confirm what 1-2 primary tasks you will accomplish. With the email marketing software, have the prospect upload 100 contacts and construct an outbound email to send the next day.
  4. Do not share their login information with them until this call. If they are unwilling to commit to 30 minutes with you to get started, what makes you think they’ll spend any time looking at your product during the trial.
  5. Schedule a midweek status call. This should be a clear deliverable. Using the email marketing example, your Wednesday call would be to review the results of the email campaign you built on Monday’s initial call and the prospect sent on Tuesday.
  6. Shut off your free trials at 5:00pm on Friday, no exceptions. If they ask for another week, tell them – “Sure you can have as long as you would like with a subscription.” Hold firm. If you really, really want to give in, then see rule #2 – set expectations and gain commitment. Or you can tell your client that your free trial cohort for next week is already full, but you can add them to a cohort two weeks from now.

**This Q&A article was originally posted on Quora. Check out Scott’s Quora page here.

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