Chances are you’ve investigated a solution for your own business where there is s free version and paid versions. The intent is simple: get a prospect to take advantage of the free version and when they want more, upgrade to a paid version.
The truth is we may not have a product or service that can easily be stripped down to a free version where a few clicks can make it operational.
So what can you offer? Here are five ideas that every B2B technology company could offer.
1. Thought leadership webcast series
This is not a product demonstration, but rather an informative and helpful presentation designed to educate and help the attendee. The presentation should provide them with a few takeaways that they can bring to their own processes within the business.
Do not give in to the temptation to make this a sales pitch. If you convince another professional to spend an hour of their time attending your webcast – make it worth their while and as advertised. You will gain their trust.
Do give these presentations yourself, or introduce a guest speaker with a very quick mention regarding your sponsorship of the event. Attendees will get to know you better and link you and your company with the event.
The idea is that this presentation will give them an idea of what it’s like to work with you. Through the webcast, your expertise is showcased, your personality comes through, and attendees begin to form an idea of you as solution provider.
2. Well crafted ‘How to’ newsletter
Think about whom you are writing for: highly qualified, ideal prospects who are going to spend a lot of money on your products and services. They deserve well thought out content, an easy-to-read layout, delivered in a routine fashion.
Remember, this newsletter is taking the place of a free trial – so provide something of value that they’re not getting elsewhere. Since the ‘Trust’ and ‘Try’ stages of the Marketing Hourglass are so intertwined for B2B technology companies and prospects, the more value you can give and the more you can demonstrate that you understand what kind of information your audience wants – the more likely they will move ahead to the ‘Buy’ stage.
3. Free 30-minute consultation
Offer prospects a free 30-minute consultation to discuss the concerns they have about their business and how technology solutions might help them. Focus on being objective and helpful. It may be that you can’t help them, but it might be a perfect opportunity to offer to introduce them to one of your referral partners.
In a 30-minute consultation the discussion is about their situation and what they can do to solve the problems they are experiencing. (Listen closely to the questions they ask you – their questions could serve as a newsletter article, because if they have the question, others probably do as well.)
At the beginning of the call set the stage, “the next 30 minutes are to discuss and help your business.” Towards the end of the call, say something like, “we have 5 more minutes, should we stay on this topic or do you have another quick question?” If you’ve gleaned that this is a qualified prospect who is in the market for your products and services, you can always go a bit longer – but be sure to say something like, “the 30 minutes we’ve scheduled is coming to a close, I want to respect your time, but I’ve got another 30 minutes before my next appointment if you’d like to continue the conversation.”
Always follow up. My preference is a hand written note and an email. But at the very least, send a follow up email.
4. Ask the Experts Hang Out
Google Hang Outs is a free and easy way to conduct an online “Ask the Expert” or one hour Q&A. You could also use GoToMeeting or a similar tool.
These are monthly scheduled events where you are available to answer questions in a question and answer format. Whether or not anyone attends, there is value in having these sessions scheduled. If no one comes, you have an hour to work on something else. But if people do attend, it’s a great way to interact and show your value.
On your website, newsletter, and direct marketing pieces include the date and time of the Hang Outs. They can serve as a secondary or tertiary call to action behind your downloadable white papers and informational webcast.
Again, take note of the questions asked (fodder for your newsletter or idea for a future presentation in your webcast series).
Presentation content and newsletter content can and should be repurposed and one way to do that is to create an eBook. The more valuable content you have available for download, the more you are going to grow your prospect list.
eBooks are wonderful call to action assets as well as vehicles for content that establishes your area of expertise and allows your prospects to qualify themselves.
Keep challenging yourself to come up with additional ideas
Finally, keep the question of “how can I offer a free trial” up on your white board, in front of your team and rattling around in your own head?. As your technology and your portfolio of products and services evolve, you may find a way to offer a more traditional free trial.