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Shorten Sales Cycles: the problem with product adoption and free trials

A lot of articles and blogs describe how the customer journey should unfold and what gets in the way of achieving real success with product adoption. However, very few have been written about the product adoption problem of one of the most common steps for buying software products: free trials. That is why this article discusses the challenges and shares actionable tips to improve the free trial experience. This blog was originally published in 2019 and has been updated with new information in August 2020.

At Instruqt, our customers are mostly tech companies. What we’ve discovered is that success begins at the first touch with the product. You need to show your prospects the value of your product immediately, after all, that’s what they want. And the advantage of the free trial is that your prospects get to know your product in their own environment. So, often this “first-touch” happens through a free trial. After 15, 30, or 60 days of using a product or service, the prospect can then decide if they’re actually going to buy it.

What could possibly go wrong with a free trial? Well, actually, a lot. 

Here’s a summary of all the possible problems your prospect might experience with a free trial.

Problems of free trials and product adoption

Avoid Making a Maze of Your Free Trial With the Following Tips

The longer it takes for your prospects to perceive value, the less likely they are to buy the product or additional features. We’ve tried many ourselves and can tell you from first-hand experience; your prospects can easily get lost in free trials. Too often it takes too much effort to make the free trial work. Here are three tips that can improve the free trial experience:

1. Demonstrate your product on real technology and real infrastructure

2. Use real-world scenarios to demonstrate use case

3. Stimulate users with interactive, hands-on challenges

Demonstrate your product on real technology and real infrastructure

The way prospects use your product varies. Companies have different kinds of tooling in place and may or may not use the cloud or have an on-premise datacenter.

You should demonstrate your product in an environment that is similar to your prospects’. That way, they’ll be familiar with the setup and recognize their situation. At Instruqt, we offer tech companies to create interactive tutorials for this purpose, with isolated “sandboxed” environments that incorporate and validate hands-on challenges. Prospects and clients can try out the product without having to install or download anything. This removes any fear they might lose their data or polluting their production environment.

Comparing free trials with Instruqt tutorials

We’ve found that interactive tutorials that are created on real infrastructures speed up product adoption by our customers. The value of a free trial increases when you run the product in the prospect’s environment and offer hands-on, guided challenges. This way, they can practice, the free trial is no longer the customer’s (only) first touch with your product. Instead, they make the decision and effort to get to know your product even better.

Use Real-World Scenarios to Demonstrate Use Cases

You want your customers to experience your product. To be able to do that successfully, you need to provide some context. You cannot do it in isolation. For example, Your product is a monitoring tool but your prospect experiences no incidents during the trial period. To showcase the added value of your product, you give him a hands-on tutorial in which an incident occurs. With the help of your product, your prospect will be able to find and solve the problem easily. This experience makes the value of your product visible, even though the incident did not happen in real life.

At Instruqt, we provide an environment where one can define the context and set up the scenarios, to showcase a new feature, it needs a starting point, the scenarios to highlight the strength. We offer a sandbox environment and the automation to set up scenarios of your choice, showcase a function, certain steps to take, prepare some data, prepare the application, configure stuff. Without the kind of function like Instruqt, you will have to end up using your existing environment. The demo may pollute the data in your live environment.

Stimulate Users with Interactive, Hands-on Challenges

Presenting the problem, rather than explaining it, prompts your clients or prospects to solve it themselves. IT engineers are problem-solvers. With the challenge-driven learning approach, you stimulate their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve highlights why learning is hard. Through hands-on learning and continuous reinforcement, humans have a better chance to absorb new knowledge. The passive way of learning is ineffective especially for IT engineers to master new tools. adoption of New Tools and Technologies among IT engineers, the world needs smarter learning solutions. With a proven use case to help HashiCorp introduce new products to IT engineers by letting them solve challenges; the team at Instruqt combined expertise in software technology and technology learning to build a learning platform that has grown to make an impact among tech companies and enterprises. Interested to learn how we got started? Check out the story of Instruqt.

Tech companies use Instruqt in three common use cases

  • Lead conversion: to convert open source users to enterprise customers
  • Product or feature upsell
  • Interactive online challenges for training and knowledge sharing

Ready to Turn Problem-Solvers into Avid Product Users?

The more innovative your product is, the more you need to educate your customers on its values. The bar for online learning has been raised in this next normal. Instruqt hands-on virtual IT learning platform can help you turn problem-solvers into avid product users. Schedule a no-pressure demo today. See how the Instruqt platform can boost your product adoption with active, bite-sized learning that runs on personal virtual environments. Discover the learning platform made for IT engineers.

Connie Tai
As the CMO at Instruqt, Connie oversees the overall marketing strategy across all marketing initiatives, acquisition channels, and distribution channels. Together with her team, she's responsible for the company's blogs, podcasts, overall content strategy, and product launch and customer demand campaigns.

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