When Free Trials are Right for Enterprise SaaS

How we approach our free managed trial process, and how to make it work for all parties

There’s so much out there on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) best practice when it comes to customer trials. How long is too long for a free trial? Do they actually convert? Should we use the freemium model? How will it impact our Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)?

But the majority of articles are still focused on consumer SaaS. There’s far less discussion when it comes to Enterprise SaaS. Free trials in the enterprise space are indeed less common, but should they be?

One school of thought is that a free trial de-values your software in an enterprise environment.

Bollocks. You test drive a Porsche before you buy it.

Don’t settle for sitting in the passenger seat while the salesman takes you for a spin.

This is not about giving your product away for free. When you’re asking someone to dedicate budget to your product, when you’re offering strategic value rather than a commoditized service, it’s experience first.

As a consumer, that stands true if I was buying a Porsche, 5-door family Sudan, or a $2000 road bicycle. Being “shown” the product isn’t indicative of the experience I’m buying into. I want to try it for myself, in a real-world environment.

As a vendor, if you go this route you need to make damn sure that the experience you offer is a good one.

A few things to bear in mind for free enterprise SaaS trials

Based on those points above, at Bipsync we believe that using our software with your data and your processes in the environment it’s intended for, is invaluable. This context is important in determining the software performs the desired function and deals with the scale and scope of the data you plan to process.

It’s why we encourage all prospective clients to take advantage of our 30-day managed trial to thoroughly evaluate our software, services and processes.

It works for us for a few reasons:

  1. We’re confident that the product experience is a good one

    • If you can’t deliver in the trial period, there’s little hope in converting that prospect. The user experience is at the heart of what we do. We use modern technologies, agile processes and user-centered design to drive speed, agility, quality and efficiency into our customers’ research processes. That’s the product experience taken care of then, you say? Well, we also know customer success plays a huge part in that experience. It’s SaaS, sometimes there are onboarding niggles, no prospect’s requirements or configuration is quite alike, so we also know our consultative approach, technical responsiveness and customer support are all vital to the product experience from the off.
  2. It gets more sticky, the more you use it

    • Our users “live in” Bipsync as a productivity environment; it’s not a passive SaaS product, they generate, store and use their own data in the system. If you do something on a regular basis – daily, weekly – it becomes sticky, and the solutions that enable you to do that well are compelling.
  3. Time to value (TTV) fits the trial period

    • There’s often an “A-ha!” moment early on; with our focus on user experience and design, our research platform’s ease of use is an order of magnitude better than anything they’ve tried before. This first impression, coupled with a tried and tested managed onboarding process, in which users phase-in critical functionality and workflows as they progress through the trial, means our TTV is spot-on for a 30 day trial period.

This is not about giving the product away for free

Because it’s not free. Free trials cost a vendor money, and demand time on the part of the prospect. It’s an investment on both sides, and vendors that fail to recognize this will often lose out.

It’s been suggested that free enterprise SaaS trials are not always feasible, that paid POCs for $25k+ deals are fine – even expected – from a large, prospective client in our space. Historically, many vendors use this to cover trial costs, land on a formulaic 10-20% of potential contract value and take the prospect through a 3-6 month process. Many still do, and in some cases it can make sense, but we’ve taken another route.

The asset management industry is somewhat unique in this respect; enterprise in software mind-set, due-diligence and requirements, yet often smaller in user-base in comparison to traditional commercial enterprises. This has presented a perfect opportunity to build a free enterprise managed trial process that works for all parties.

While we’re very conscious of our CAC, we’re committed to investing in ways to minimize friction to buy, and effort to trial, from all our prospects. And this all means we look at things a little differently.

More than an opportunity to ‘kick the tires’, we invest time and resource into our 30-day managed trials, in order for users to quickly and easily identify and experience efficiencies of the Bipsync platform first-hand.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up fund with 3 users, or a Fund of Funds with 50+, the high-level process we follow is the same. It’s transparent, comprehensive and inclusive. Our approach to free managed trials is – in fact –  similar to client onboarding, and includes:

  • Best practice consultancy and ongoing workflow configuration
  • Dedicated trial instance
  • User onboarding, training and support
  • Sample migration services
  • User adoption and engagement tracking

And it pays dividends. We have upward of 90% managed trial conversion rates.

So, next time you’re in the market for enterprise SaaS, or indeed a new family saloon, ask yourself this: why is it that the salesperson won’t let you take that test drive? Should you really trust a company that wont let you try before you buy?

For more detail on Bipsync’s Free Managed Trial Process, drop us a line.