When you are in the business of enterprise sales and you are selling something new, the most common proposition you get from your client is to do a free trial. From the client’s perspective, it may sound logical because they are trying you out. The bigger the client, more lucrative the free trial sounds. But there are a few key reasons why free trials just don’t work.
First, in enterprise business, free has no value. If you are giving something away for free, the chances are it is not going to be used. The client is going to pay much more attention at something they have paid for because they are much better off justifying to themselves the product for which they shelled out some money from their budgets.
Second, if you give away a water-down product to the client because you are doing it for free, you are anchoring your capabilities there from the perspective of the client. If you claim to move mountains but turn a stone in the free trial, it will be really hard for you to convince your client that you do have the capabilities to move mountains. This is a lose-lose scenario for both your client and you. Your client is not getting the real meat and is not satisfied by your product. You are taking a hit in doing whatever you are doing and not able to convince your client to trust you to go for the real product.
A much better approach is to do a “pilot” for a discounted price with your client. You might not make money in this round, or even end up losing some, but this will make them comfortable to try it out for a price where you are not giving it away and at the same time making your client comfortable as they are taking a smaller risk on a new thing. You might lose some business by not giving it away for free the first time around, but it will make sure whoever is getting it is going to put your product to use and increase the probability of engaging with you in the next phase.