With the recent announcement that HubSpot is offering its new CRM free for customers and non-customers alike, I started to think about the free offers I have used in the past and my experiences with them. It also took me back to my days as a triathlon coach and seeing the lack of success experienced by the athletes who downloaded free training programs.
Free Often Means Little Value and Little Risk of Loss
One challenge with every free offer is that if the customer isn’t paying for it, the perceived value might not be there. For instance, if you get something for free, like tickets to a game or concert that you weren’t already very interested in, you might decide at the last minute you don’t really want to go. Because you didn’t pay for those tickets, you’re less likely to scurry around to find a buyer (or at least a user) for them. You’ll probably just let them go to waste.
Perhaps even worse than not seeing value in something you didn’t pay for, there’s also no sense of loss if you never derive value. It’s one thing to drop those tickets to the Barry Manilow concert in the wastebasket, but it’s quite another to fail to implement that free CRM that looked so good when all you were thinking about was the price tag. If you’re paying a monthly fee for something, you’re likely to be more focused on getting it implemented and producing an ROI. A CRM that sits on a virtual shelf does no one any good.
Professional Training Can Increase Accountability and Effectiveness
The next thought I had about free relates to my experiences as a triathlon coach years ago. I would see athletes downloading a “free training plan” from the Internet and then watching how they went about training for their event. Inevitably they would make “rookie” mistakes, deviate from their scheduled workouts, and generally were less committed to the training than were those who paid for the services of a coach or trainer. Most of the time, they just followed aimlessly what everyone else was doing and had subpar results, and would then move on to the next free training program or triathlon training book.
In my ten years of coaching triathletes, those with the most success were the ones that hired a coach. For their money, they got a personalized training program and a sense of mutual accountability. These professional coaches would provide tips from their experience that a “rookie” wouldn’t know and provided periodic guidance regarding what to do in situations where their training had to deviate from the plan. The key difference in determining how successful you were with the free training programs was that one had a paid, professional, personalized coaching component while the other did not.
I don’t think it’s an overgeneralization to say that a free CRM or any SaaS for that matter would be more successful with the guidance and feedback from a paid coach or consultant. If you are going to invest time and resources in learning a new piece of software and training your sales team and management on how to use it, you are best to have someone that can guide you and answer your questions along the way. The last thing that you want is to pin the success of your sales team on free software that you don’t know how to use.
The bright side of the free software is that it leaves you with more dry powder to retain a sales coach or consultant to help you through it. Select one who knows well the CRM system you’ve chosen and you could turn that freebie into a real value to your organization. You’ll have a monthly cost and you’ll be certain to derive an ROI.
Speaking of free (what a segue, right?), you should join our free Insiders' Circle to be the first to know about everything related to LeadG2: Getting Prospects to Raise Their Hands, the first book Matt Sunshine has written and the only book you need to read about lead intelligence.