Software Trials – learning enough to buy…but not too much.

How do you get a prospect to experience enough during their trial to be confident it will solve their problem, but not get bogged down in details?  If you’re the salesperson responsible for building trust and progressing the sale with prospects once they’re trialing, here’s a simple way to look at it.

Start with Value

What is valuable to THEM? What problem do they need to solve? What’s not working or needs improvement?

You probably know the top value propositions of your solution, your ideal customer profiles, and hopefully the top buyer personas. It’s your job to take all of that and provide personalized interactions that provide value every time.

The prospect will be educated on your solution before they ever meet with you. You are there to provide personal attention: establish trust, give them confidence in the company’s ability to execute and connect the dots between the solution and the problem that they need solved. Make their trial experience as personal as possible by aligning everything to their goals and pain points.

Get to First Value FAST

Is your software rather complicated? I worked for one company whose software didn’t really get customers excited until they’d migrated or uploaded some of their own content into the trial – generic examples were great in theory but not in practice. We didn’t want to spend too long setting up the solution or taking them through a dozen technical content migration steps, before they were able to see the software working for a real scenario, solving their problem. So even though we could have taught them how to do it, we always set up their content ahead of time, and gave them an overview of how we did it instead. This kept the trial completely focused on their desired outcome. This helped a lot.

When you’re doing a software walkthrough – give them context and a basic understanding of how the software works, sure, but DO NOT walk them through everything – focus on what they are trying to accomplish. If you’re in love with the product you’re selling and know it inside and out, it can be hard to hold yourself back, I know  (oh, look at this fantastic new feature we just released that lets you do X…).

Teach them just enough to accomplish their goals. Best to leave “mastery” for later, once they’ve bought – leave that to your onboarding team! Another reason not to encourage them to master your software during the trial is:

Another reason not to encourage them to master your software during the trial is:

Time and Effort are LIMITED

Buyers will have a certain amount of time AND EFFORT that they expect to devote to their trial evaluations, whether they know it or not. Every time your prospect reads an email or watches a tutorial or learns an Admin task that they don’t care about, it is using up precious time and energy.

I vividly an insurance call center prospect of mine who was a lovely person, so enthusiastic in the beginning, keen to test. Unfortunately, on Day 1 of the 30-person trial pilot (which took 6 weeks to arrange), we ran into an I.T./Active Directory issue that put it on hold. They stood down the pilot group, had to start over so their IT team could look at the A.D. info we used and vet that it was OK.  Enthusiasm dried up  – testing was harder than they thought and they got exhausted. We rescheduled for 2 months out after the busy season, but her will was gone – we’d used time and she’d used up some of her internal credibility on us. We did not succeed in getting the trial going again.

Years ago, I ran into this on the buyer side – I’d run across something on email marketing integration with Salesforce.com, and reached out to find out more. The sales rep didn’t answer my request for basic info, but booked a call with me instead. I thought he’d answer my questions, but instead, he proceeded to ask me a heap of context/qualification questions for 30 minutes. I had to book a SECOND session with his technical specialist for the demo! You’d think it would have been wonderful – after all, they had more info on our organization’s situation than anyone else, but no…1.5 hours for a tech-savvy sales exec to get a basic understanding of the product’s capabilities was way too much time. If it was this hard to get the info I wanted out of them, imagine what a trial or pilot would take!

The more efficient and targeted-on-their-pain-point you are, the more effort and time you keep in reserve for the rest of the process. 

If you do this right, there will be times where the prospect surprises YOU! Once when working with an I.S. team for a Fortune 500 company, I’d understood their pain points, walked them through testing the single product we had that would solve it, and provided all the rich technical documentation they wanted to review.

They seemed happy at the time but then stopped communicating. After a few ‘value’ emails, I called to find out what was left to test, worried that something had happened I wasn’t across. They were sold! They’d included our solution in their budget and were working through internal approval processes. It met their needs perfectly, we were easy to work with, and the product was easy to use. They’d seen probably 40% of what most of our customers did.

PS: if they do not have a specific pain point or desired outcome in mind, or you don’t know what it is…might as why you’re working on it…

 

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