Is Your Risk Free Trial Scaring Away Your “Ready To Buy” Customers? Here’s How To Win Them Back!


In the past three months I can think of several companies that I was ready to buy their product, so ready in fact that I had my wallet out on my desk next to my computer, but I never ended up buying it.

Why? For one simple reason…The risk free trial scared me away! 

I am sure you are wondering why an offer to try something for free, a product no less  that I was ready to buy, would hold me back from making the purchase. However, once you understand it you will see it is actually quite logical, and you will also recognize that you have held back from purchases for the same reason. More importantly, the secret to making them work for you will become so obvious, despite being so counter-intuitive, it will make perfect sense to you.

Lets start with the premise that people buy products to solve problems. Problems that they would gladly pay money to get rid of. So, let’s start with the assumption that you wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t provide some sort of value. Considering this leads to the realization that there definitely people out there ready and willing to buy your product. Your challenge is to let them know you exist, and make it easy for them to purchase.

Let’s take a step back for a second and think about what the biggest inhibitor to making purchases is, especially considering you have a value proposition that is attractive to your prospects. Here’s what happens when someone is ready to buy. You just created a new pain point in their life. Now, they have to take action. They have to reach into their pockets, take out their wallets, enter in all their billing information, spend money, and than actually use your product, implementing it’s function.

Assuming the original pain point you solve is greater than the pain of buying the product, you will make sales. However, if the pain of waiting til tomorrow to solve that problem is less than the pain of taking action today, what do you think your prospect will do?

Why do something today that you can just as easily push off til tomorrow?

That’s right, procrastination is the biggest killer of practically in the bag sales. All you need to do is give me a reason, any reason at all to push off taking action now, and I am gone faster than you can read this sentence! 

So, when I come to a website, with a product I am ready to buy. For example, I am ready to buy Buzzstream or my linkbuilding and pr outreach efforts, I am ready to buy Premise from copyblogger, I am ready to buy ppchero’s premium tools, I am ready to buy a bid management solution like Marin Software, I was also ready and willing to pay for wordstreams services and there are probably a handful of other products that I am ready, willing and eager to buy…

But their free trial scares me away! 

Here’s is why. When I see a 14 day free trial, or a 7 day free trial or even a 21 or 30 day free trial, I don’t see risk reversal, I see a deadline. I see a self imposed deadline that I can easily delay. So, I ask myself, will I really get a chance in the next 7 or 14 days or even 30 days to get the most out of a free trial? Most likely not. While I will use it for a few minutes when I buy it, and than probably a few more times over the next few weeks, I know I will not get around to really maximize my free trial. So… I wait. I procrastinate. I tell myself, next week I will sign up. I am going on vacation in a week, let me sign up when I get back. Wait, thats the end of the year, its hard to do work during the holiday season, I will wait til January to sign up.

A week later, I will find myself on their checkout page having this same conversation in my head… and bounce!

Why in your right mind would you place a stumbling block in front of your customers?

If Procrastination is the biggest killer of sales, why would you give me a damn good reason to wait to buy, when I am ready to buy right now? 

Here’s the thing, there are two stores that I know of that have figured out the perfect solution. In fact, they have done such a good job at executing on it, that I will literally never buy a product that they carry from any other retailer if I can get it from them.

Who are they and what is their secret? Costco, and Bed Bath and Beyond. Why? Because they let me return anything, anytime, no questions asked. Now, even I am not ready to buy, even if I am just teetering on the fence, if I know I can get my money back no matter what, and there is no clock on returning it, I will buy it. Sure, I will end up returning some things. But overall, Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond make a heck of a lot more money from the purchases I keep than they lose from the few items I return.

They Completely Removed the Procrastination Stumbling Block, and In Fact, The Very Thing Making Me Procrastinate, A short term money back guarantee, is making me act right now, an open ended, no expiration money back guarantee. 

I don’t recall where I read it, but I definitely read about case studies that have shown that a longer term risk free trial translates into fewer returns. Now, I am theorizing it also leads to more sales in the first place.

Think about it another way. If I have a short period of time to make up my mind, I am probably adding to my calendar a reminder to cancel X the day before I have to. In fact, I will probably end up deciding to return it just because I am forced into making a decision. If however I have 120 days or a full year, or two years or a lifetime money back guarantee… Odds are, like so many products I bought but rarely use, I will forget to cancel it, or worse, I will tell myself, oh, I have til next billing cycle to cancel, and I will delay canceling it for several months or more. I will procrastinate until before I know it…I will end up keeping it.

Key Takeaway: The longer your money back guarantee, the fewer returns you will have and the more sales you will make. 

So, while I certainly understand the fear of giving away the cow for free, and the fear of open ended money back guarantees, just look at Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond, and the other stores you always shop by because their long term return policy… Or just think about the last time you almost bought something with a short free trial. Did it make you procrastinate? Odds are it did.


About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


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