How do you overcome the "free trial" objection?


A lot of products and services come with free trials and money-back guarntees, which sets the bar pretty low for those who don't/can't provide either. Obviously, the trick is to establish value and show a good fit ahead of time... but if you make the mistake early on, the question/objection still comes up.

How do/have you address/overcome the fact that your product/service does not offer a free trial or no-cost evaluation?

Sales Trial Valuation

asked Mar 29 '10 at 11:08
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • why fight it? It might be easier to figure out how to fit with that expectation. – Tim J 14 years ago

4 Answers


I would try to overcome these objections by stating up front that you don't offer a free trial, and why. If there is a truly good reason, being honest with the potential customer can create a little bit of trust. Also - if you can't offer a free trial, be sure to give them something that gets them into your system as a lead (a white paper, freebie piece of functionality, or whatever).

Having said that, if a trial period is at all possible, it is a great way to build trust in your company and your product, and won't cannibalize your business nearly as much as you might think. -e-

answered Mar 29 '10 at 11:43
Ev Conrad
561 points


Do you provide a BtoB service in which you go for a moderate number of big orders or is it more of an iTunes BtoC play? Assuming the former, I definitely believe that you want to avoid giving away free service.

One way to accomplish this is to enter a trial service agreement. State that the cost of the trial service will be applied to the cost of future orders so that the trial will effectively be free to the customer if they continue using your service. Charging them for service in this way will cause both you and the customer to place more value on the service (e.g., they are more likely to use it if they paid for it).

If you absolutely can't get the first customer to go for a trial service agreement and you agree to a free trial, be sure that the parameters are fully defined and require minimal work on your part.

answered Mar 29 '10 at 12:54
Fractal Guy
254 points


From a customer perspective when evaluating a product/service, I want to know if it will fit my needs, solve my problem and is easy to use/learn. If I buy something and if I am not happy with it, I would like to have my problem resolved or get a refund if it cannot be. From the company’s perspective I believe giving the refund is preferable than to have the unhappy customer tell anyone and everyone how unhappy they are with your company. I think if you do not offer a free trial having a satisfaction guaranteed refund is important as it establishes trust that you really do believe you have a great product. If you do your best to ensure that your product is a great fit for the customer and do your best to handle any questions, concerns and problems that come up you will give out few if any refunds at all.

If you do not give a free trial or a money back guarantee, then it will require a lot more work to establish trust with the customer that you will ensure that the product will work for them and you will take care of all problems that come up. If these are existing customers who are happy with other products or services this will not be an issue. For a potential new customer, some things that may help include:

  • demos available for the product/service,
  • bullet point descriptions on what the product/service does and how they differ from the competition,
  • customer testimonials that give specific examples of what they like about the product/service as well as happy customers willing to speak to potential customers.

For brand new customers who are unsure, I believe though it will be a very tough sell without either a free trial or a money back guarantee to overcome the “free trial” objection.

answered Mar 29 '10 at 13:55
Starr Ed
948 points


If there is some actual reason you can't offer a free trial, you need to explain that reason and offset the lack of a trial with something else. Maybe customer testimonials, or something else appropriate to your product or service.

But always remember that if you are accepting credit card payments for your service or product over the internet (card not present) you are offering a money back guarantee. Any customer can complain that your software or service did not work and do a charge back. It costs you less to refund than to endure the charge back. (And if you get enough charge backs you will loose your merchant account.) To really answer this question rather than speculate, we need to know why you can't offer a trial or money back guarantee.

answered Mar 29 '10 at 14:02
Gary E
12,510 points
  • Not true on the chargeback; if your payment policy clearly states no refund and you delivered what was purchased, then you will win a chargeback dispute and not pay any fees. – Alex Papadimoulis 14 years ago
  • Gary - you're probably correct, but now you're burning energy on chargebacks. I think that a money back guarantee, or not charging for the remainder of a service period, goes a long way towards building trust, and I think that building trust with a potential customer is one of (if not the most important step ) the more important steps towards turning a browser into a customer. JMHO. -e- – Ev Conrad 14 years ago
  • Sorry Alex, the Fair Credit Act of 1972 explicitly states that if the credit card is not present at the transaction, a consumer need only write a complaint stating he/she did not receive the merchandise, or said service did not work to initiate a charge back. The law states the consumer's word will always take precedence over the merchants in these cases. – Gary E 14 years ago
  • Interesting; I guess maintaining proof of receipt/fulfillment is key? For a job board, we had a 0.3% chargeback ratio, and won all of the disputes. We delivered what they paid for (a job ad)... the dispute was just that the job ad wasn't effective enough. – Alex Papadimoulis 14 years ago
  • There is no key. If a customer buys with a credit card (card not present) and knows their rights they can always get a full refund via a charge back. Since we are stuck with the law, use it to your advantage. You are effectively forced to offer a refund, so advertise a 30 day money back guarantee. Turn the negative into apositive. – Gary E 14 years ago

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