I have the following situation:
My product is enterprise software and costs 50k.
We don´t want our competitors getting their hands on it, so we dont offer a downloadable trial.
A potential client has to fill out a form, we call him later, then give him a trial.
The question is, would it be beneficial for us to offer a free, downloadable trial or would this not make a difference for expensive software?
Also, do we really need to protect our software from competitors? If they wanted they could easyly social engineer my sales team into handing it over, by registering a fake domain etc? The sales team knows not to give trials to certain companies, people with gmail accounts etc, but thats as far as it gets.
Since you say your software is expensive, I'm assuming it fulfils a niche want that not many companies can or are interested in filling. In that case, there's no use of putting an online trial on your website because most enterprise software is sold through sales leads and biz dev guys. I'm saying this assuming you're targeting mid-/large-cap companies who can shell 50k for your software.
As to the matter of your competitors, I think if what you're selling is a SaaS app then you've access to who uses it and moreover if you're app has unique features which are protected by patents then it becomes hard for your competitors to clone.
IMO,in the realm of enterprise software having a great sales team counts a lot.
Companies would like to test drive the solution. Can u create a demo instead? I assuming that even if you install the software there are things that you have to do to make it work, so if they spend less time installing and more time working on it, it would be best.
If you can get a demo would be more helpful for your customers (not sure if that means your competitors will get their hands on it)
Our company has bought several expensive software solutions in the past, and we based it on 1) research 2) a demo at their site that we had access to, was already populated and configured with everything. 3) After that we did engage in the buying process with a grace period to make sure everything worked as promised, and the rest is history.
So no you do not need it to be available, without having your sales involved, but you do need a demo or a (video/webinar)
Any company buying software for 50k is going to want to know "how" it is going to streamline their business process/make business easier. A marketing campaign/website focusing on "how" is enough to get leads. A free trial would be nice but is probably not necessary. I like the way you have the free trial setup.
If a competitor wants to look at your software badly enough, they will find a way. You have already done the work to make it more difficult for them to obtain.
In my opinion having a free trial for expensive software also help you gain clients. This way when possible clients or even those who are not intend to buy can weigh on its usefulness and productivity your software help over its cost. There are people that could consider using your software if the software is really worth it.