3 mistakes you're making on your free CRM trial

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Free CRM trials are great because they let you test out a product before committing to it. There are many reasons to always try before you buy but even the trialing phase requires a bit of due diligence to make sure you're getting the most out of your free trial. Here are some mistakes you may be making as you embark of your CRM free trial, and how you can avoid them.

1) You didn't check which tier you're on.

This is probably one of the sneakier tricks a CRM will try to pull on you during your free trial. When a CRM has multiple tiers of features and prices but only a single "Try a free trial" button, they'll normally give you a free trial on their most "popular" plan -- the pricier one.

As you might imagine, this is bad for an unsuspecting trial user for a number of reasons:

  1. You are working with a CRM version that is likely more powerful than you need, which steepens the learning curve, and means that you spend more of your trial period just figuring things out instead of actually using the product.
  2. You get automatically rolled into subscribing for a plan that is more expensive than you had budgeted for.
  3. You end up paying for features that you don't need or won't use.

How to avoid this: If you've signed up for a trial and think you might be using a different tier than you need, reach out to the support team to ask for a downgrade. This option to change plans may also be found in your account settings page. If you haven't signed up for a trial yet but do see that there are multiple tiers but just one "Sign up for a free trial now!" button, check to see if there are asterisks (or veeeery small text) under the Free Trial button that will tell you. Here is Pipedrive's for example:

Pipedrive's Professional plan is their most expensive non-enterprise plan. There are two cheaper tiers below it that you may not have known about if you had signed up without checking!

If you don't see any further information about what plan their trial is on, take advantage of their customer support to get a clear answer. It's always better to know which plan you're going to be on before you start, instead of realizing it at the end of your trial. And hey, this is a great way to see what kind of customer support you can expect to get from this CRM provider!

2) You didn't add your entire team at the start of the trial.

If you work with a team and want your entire team to be onboard with the new CRM, they need to be testing it out with you. You may use a CRM a certain way but it could be that none of your team members like to operate in this fashion. This issue comes up most commonly with managers who are trialing new CRMs for their team. The way a manager uses a CRM is very different from a team member, and the things you're looking for in a CRM often aren't what they need.

Managers who choose CRMs that are great for themselves but haven't tested it out from their team's perspective run the greatest risk of losing buy-in. And when your team isn't using the CRM, you won't be able to take advantage of those managerial features because there's no data to pull!

How to avoid this: The best CRM is the one your whole team will use. At the start of your trial, check to see if there are user limitations during the trial. If there are, pick the team members that you know will be the best advocates or the most tech-savvy to try out the CRM with you. This way, they can pick up the CRM on, and become champions for the rest of the team when it's time to roll it out.

Zoho's free trial for example limits you to three users in total -- so pick your 2 tech-savviest employees to test it out with you!

If there aren't user limitations during the trial (you can add as many users are you want during a Less Annoying CRM trial, for example!), add everyone on your team so that you can see how your team will operate in this CRM. Don't forget that the best CRM isn't going to be the most feature-laden or the cheapest -- it's the one your team will use. So make sure they get to try it too!

3) You didn't ask for more time on your trial if you weren't able to fully evaluate it.

Trial lengths range from 7 days to a month or more, and the reality is that you and your team will also need varying lengths of time to fully evaluate a system to see if it'll work for you. Just because a trial has ended doesn't mean that you now magically fully understand how a CRM works, and how it fits in with your existing business. A big mistake is not reach out to the support team for a trial extension if you don't feel like you've got a good idea on whether or not a CRM will work for you.

How to avoid this: A someone who's been on the other side of the CRM search, I can promise you that a software provider will almost always extend your free trial if you ask for it. After all, it's serves their interests a lot more to get a good customer than it is to have a new user who signed up for a month then cancelled after finding out that the CRM was a bad fit!

So don't let the end of the trial pressure you into making a decision if you don't have enough information yet. The last thing you want is to sign an annual contract for a CRM you haven't fully evaluated. So if you went on vacation or fell ill while trialing your CRM, be sure to reach out to the support team to see if they could extend your trial so you can be confident that you're going to be paying for the best CRM for you.

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