Making the Most of Your 30-Day Free Trial – Part 1

As more and more cloud apps are being designed for business consumers, the 30-Day Free Trial is becoming more and more common in the corporate setting. OpsAnalitica, my company, offers a 30-Day Free Trial for our Inspector App.

The Free Trial is not a new concept; it is one of the best sales models for the manufacturer and the customer. The Free Trial thrives in the app economy because there are minimal costs to the app maker for adding one additional customer to their app for 30-days.

The benefit to the customer is you can cut through the marketing hype and use the tool in the real world. It is one thing to see a demo video and in our case it is another to walk around your restaurant with our app on your tablet inspecting your restaurant and recording temperatures.

Quick Tip: Demo Videos, most app companies have a demo video of their software on their site. When watching a demo video be leery of highly produced videos with lots of editing and cuts. A great screen capture video that shows the app working in the real world is better because you see the real user experience.

The first concept I want to cover in Free Trials is: Nothing is ever Free. A 30-Day Free trial isn’t free because your time and attention cost money. When you commit to doing a trial and you put your credit card down the clock is ticking. So you should go in with a plan and an idea of how you would use this tool in your world.

Quick Tip: Set a calendar reminder for 28 days on the day you purchase the free trial. At OpsAnalitica, we email you twice in the week when your card is going to be charged for the first time to alert you to the upcoming charge. Notifying the customer about an impending charge isn’t a law or requirement. Just remember 30 days at work goes by so fast, and we see a ton of our free trials wait until the reminder emails before they even start using the tool.

Quick Tip: Don’t sign-up for more licenses than you need to conduct your free trial. We have people sign-up for ten licenses and then on Day 30 they get billed for ten licenses when they only needed one.

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Free Trial Phases:
You should break your free trial into two phases. Initial Evaluation and Real World Test(RWT). You don’t move into the RWT if the platform doesn’t pass your Initial Evaluation.

Initial Evaluation:

  • The goal is to use all of the functionality of the app with the minimal time investment
  • Don’t be concerned with data quality, look and feel, in this phase.
  • You should try to get through your Initial Evaluation in two to four hours if possible.

I see people making a huge mistake all the time, which is they won’t start testing an app unless they have it configured perfectly with real world data. Configuring takes time.

What I’m saying here is against my self-interest as an app maker. The more time a customer invests in the tool during a free trial correlates to their purchase behavior. A customer puts a psychological value on their time and is less likely to cancel the trial, even if they aren’t happy with the tool because it will look and feel like they made a mistake.

So much of selling is playing on the pride and laziness of the customer.  That is why they will let you mail back the Bowflex for a refund because they know no one is going to pack that bitch back up, and it get it shipped. So as soon as you unpack the Bowflex, it is never going back. The only way you are getting it out of your house is when you sell it for 1/3rd of what you paid for it on Craigslist.

Investing too much time configuring in the Initial Evaluation, is unpacking the Bowflex, and it plays into the hands of the seller.

Using our app as an example, I have test inspections I can load into the Inspector for you. They are full of questions that may apply to your business but more than likely they won’t cover everything you might want to inspect. That is OK. You need to use your imagination, use my preloaded test questions, walk around your restaurant inspecting it and determine if the app and reports could work for you.  There will be plenty of time to conduct real world tests with real data if you proceed to RWT.

The same is true for any other app you are testing, ask the company if they have preloaded data for you to use. Your time is money so don’t waste it data entering when you aren’t sure that you are going to be using this thing tomorrow.

Other Apps:

  • Task Management apps – add two fake tasks to the app and work them to completion before you invest 5 hours moving every task from your current app into that platform.
  • CRM App – Put in your personal contact info and then work yourself through the system on a fake deal before you invest the time to move your entire contact list into the tool.
  • Restaurant Scheduling – Make a fake schedule with a couple of employees and see how it works.

As you are testing make a bullet point list of questions and concerns. If you like the App, then you can contact your sales rep or support and get the questions answered before moving to RWT.

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Quick Tip: In programming going from one to two is harder than two to 1,000. What that means is, if you are testing something always use at least two items in your test. If it works for two test items than it should work similarly for 100 items.

Quick Tip: There is no app that is going to 100% conform to how you do stuff today. The point of bringing in apps is to speed things up and make data more available. Just know that you are going to have to change how you do things a little to work with an app.

When you have gone as far as you can or need to go in your Initial Evaluation, look at the list of questions you have generated and categorize them as Must-haves and Nice-to-Haves. Must-have’s are deal breakers, Nice-to-have’s are “it would be cool if your app did it like this.”

Let’s break the Must-haves concept down a little bit more, because this is probably the biggest barrier I see companies stumbling over. When evaluating functionality you have to clear your mind and focus on the end goal.

As an example: The business requirement is that a customer gets a notification email when a certain action is taken, if there is no way to make that happen within the app. That is a Must-have that is not being met.

If the email notification is sent, but not the way you would ideally like it to happen. For instance: you have to click a button, or it doesn’t go out immediately; then that is a Nice-to-have issue. The business requirement is met just not the way you would have preferred it.

Initial Evaluation Decision Time: You have your list of questions and concerns; you have rated it by Must-haves and Nice-to-haves. You have gotten clarification from the app maker that your list is accurate. Now you have to decide if it’s worth investing more time into testing or should you look for another solution.

There is no formula for the percentage of Must-haves to Nice-to-haves when deciding. It comes down to how many Must-haves are on your list and is the pain of your current system enough that you can live without that functionality.

Quick Tip: Don’t get caught up in the personalities of your company and what you think people will do or won’t do. If there is a strong business case around implementing technology and you can prove ROI, people will adapt.

Over the years, I’ve see so many people not move forward with an app that has proven positive ROI because some guy on their team, Doug, is never going to do that. Just because Doug is an ass head and has managed to stop all progress at the company because he is afraid of technology, the rest of the company shouldn’t have to suffer.

Quick Tip: If you aren’t going to move forward, you should cancel the app immediately before you forget. I cannot stress this enough, make your decision and move on.

I had an employee once that did a 30-day free trial, didn’t like the app, told us all in a meeting that we weren’t going to use it. Then forgot to cancel, didn’t realize that he had forgotten, and we were billed for a month. He had to put that on his expense report to me and tell me how he had made a mistake, and then accounting wanted to know what the charge was for and ultimately we all looked dumb.  Cancel when you decide.

In part two of this blog, we will pick-up on Real World Testing(RWT).  Click here to go to Part II.

Also, in Part II we will have a printable 1 page pdf of best practices.

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Tommy Yionoulis

I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

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