SaaS Marketing Blog

Demo Vs Free Trial – which is the best option for your SaaS product?


2nd January 2021

Whilst the common assumption is a free trial and zero-touch approach is the best way to sell SaaS, there is often debate as to whether this is the best approach, or if a demo is the best approach.

For some products it’s obvious – a low-cost product that is quick to get started with a free trial makes sense, whereas a complex enterprise product with a long sales cycle requires a sales led demo approach.

However, many sit in the middle and there may not be a right answer.

So, which option is best for your SaaS product – a demo or a free trial?

To help you decide which option is right for your SaaS product, here we look at both strategies in more detail and explain some of the pros and cons of each.

The SaaS Free Trial

Typically, the customer trials the product for free over a limited period of time, such as 14 or 30 days.  This lets the user see the value of the product and experience the features first-hand, in the hope that they will sign up for the software at the end of the free trial. An extension to this is the freemium or Product Led Growth business model where the free trial is typically limited by features, rather than time.

What are the benefits of free trials?

Clearly there are a number of key benefits to a free trial:

  • It gets potential customers using your product right away
  • Users have the opportunity to play around with your software in their own time and at their own pace
  • And they get to experience your product and its features first-hand, to understand how the product works before making a purchasing decision
  • It doesn’t require resource from your sales team or customer success team

What are the disadvantages of free trials?

Despite the many benefits associated with free trials, there are some drawbacks too.

  • Offering free trials can require a significant amount of development time and effort to ensure it’s set up correctly initially, and that your triallist understands how to use your software
  • Customers do not start paying to use your product until the trial ends, so there’s always the risk that they may not be interested in your software once the trial finishes
  • Some SaaS products may not be suited to a free trial, such as complex products, or those that require implementation and training before the product can be used
  • There’s no sales intervention to answer questions or undertake objection handling

If a free trial is right for your SaaS product, check out our blog Getting Customers Onboard: 6 Stages to Ensure Your SaaS Free Trial Converts to learn how to convert more free trial users into paid customers.

The SaaS demo

A demo is typically undertaken online using a tool like Zoom and it allows you to showcase your different product features to a potential customer on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis.

What are the benefits of a demo?

  • Demos are particularly useful when your product is complex and requires extensive set up
  • A personalised one-to-one demo allows you to focus on the specific needs of a single prospect, therefore increasing your chances of achieving success
  • Potential customers can ask questions to get a better understanding of your product and this can provide you with valuable feedback too

What are the disadvantages of a free demo?

  • Offering demos requires sales people or time from founders to be used for sales
  • A demo may require more steps to get people actually using your product, such as signing up and scheduling the demo
  • If competitors offer a free trial some prospects may be put off by having to go through a demo process.

If a demo is right for your SaaS business, here’s 6 quick tips to make your SaaS demos a success Great, someone’s booked a demo for our SaaS product.

So, which is the best option for your SaaS product?

For some SaaS products, the free trial option might drive more sales, whereas for others, a demo may be the better option.

Whichever method you choose, will depend largely on a number of different factors, such as your product’s complexity, target audience and sales cycle. However, it’s likely that the option you finally decide on, will be determined by the one that drives the most sales for your SaaS product. And in some cases, you may even find that offering both options – a demo and a free trial – is the best option for your SaaS product.

You can always test this – try a demo, try a free trial, try both, look at the data and make decisions from there.

Improve your onboarding with Xander Marketing

Xander Marketing works in partnership with SaaS businesses around the world to support growth through new customer acquisition, increasing leads, generating more website traffic and raising industry awareness.

Need help with your SaaS marketing? Talk to us today. Find out more about our onboarding services or book your free 60 minute consultation.

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