free samples and trials attract prospects, turn those into opportunities

Demos are not dollars. Product demos and free trials are a great way to bring in leads, however, converting those leads into paying customers is no easy feat. According to a study by Totango, only about 15-25% of SaaS companies convert free users to paying subscribers.

It’s understandable why demos and free trials are so effective to generate leads. There is little risk for the website visitors - a demo may teach you about some new features and a free trial will let you use the product without putting down a dime of your money. All too often however, sales leaders report that after the demo stage, opportunities get stuck in the funnel. For free trials, it can be even worse. They may never even get a chance to speak with the potential customer without a robust nurture campaign.

This challenge is much too broad for one blog to tackle. There are steps you can take with marketing, your product, pricing etc to impact your conversion rates from demo/trials to paying customers. For now, lets look at things we can do from a seller standpoint to improve our conversion rates.

Interest Does Not Equal Opportunity

If a prospect requests a demo or signs up for a free trial, it’s undeniable that there is at least a little bit of curiosity about the product. Sellers however, often mistake curiosity for opportunity - it’s not the same! On top of that, some companies will enter a contact into their opportunity pipeline as soon as they request a demo. This can drastically throw off your conversion rates and sales forecast.

Change is the engine of all sales opportunities. Sellers need to be able to uncover the change that is happening in their prospect’s industry or business. Is the change causing a large enough frustration with the status quo that they are willing to act now in order to address that frustration? If the answer to that question is yes, only then should that contact be entered as an opportunity in the pipeline. 

Take demos for what they are - an expression of curiosity. Use the demo and trials during free trial periods in order to uncover the changes your potential consumers are facing. Only when you can say yes to the question posed above, enter them as opportunities in your sales funnel. That will drastically improve your conversion rate. 

Ask Questions

Sales people learn questioning models from day one of being a seller. Sales professionals know the power that questions can have throughout the sales cycle. Ironically, sales people seem to forget all these lessons as soon as they hop on an initial demo. We’ve all sat through demos where the sales person made no effort to try and understand your business. I’ve had conversations during free trial periods with customer representatives that never bothered to ask why I was interested in the free trial to being with. 

A demo is not just a presentation of your solution. You should treat it as an opportunity to understand your customer’s perspective. Maybe the free trial or just a demo is the right thing for them to do in this stage of their buying journey. If we ask the right questions, maybe we can help them discover that in fact a demo or free trial is not enough and they need to seriously consider buying your solution. 

Stop under utilizing your demos and conversations during the free trial periods. Uncover your prospect’s needs and your focus on doing that will impact your conversion rates. 

There is More To Do

As I mentioned before, this is a big challenge that one blog post can’t possibly tackle. However, taking full advantage of the interactions you have with customers during a demo or a free trial period is one way to improve your conversion rates. Make sure your sales people have the right skill set to ask effective questions, establish customer rapport, and distinguish real opportunity from curiosity.

Interested in learning more about how to turn your demos into opportunities?


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 The Art of the Sales Demo: 6 Steps for a Shorter Sales Cycle

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