If you want to sell software to me, you only have to follow these three simple rules:

  1. Do not lie to me.
  2. Have full featured trial version.
  3. Respect me.


Sounds simple right? It is. Except, there will always be that smart sales person that will say something like: “Why don’t we let users download a free trial, but when they want to actually do things with our software, we will make that impossible for them and instead cunningly remind them that they need this and this license to do that. Yeah. That surely beats time limited trial by a huge margin.”

Guess what, you just violated all three rules. Let’s analyze how?


You are trying to cheat me into buying a license

I downloaded a trial for a reason. I wanted to test your software out, prior spending hard earned money on it. I believed trial was free and that I can test it all. Now you are telling me I have to pay for a trial? Why are you trying to cheat me into purchasing your product without testing it? Is it that bad? Show me at least some respect.


You are not offering me all features

Trials are supposed to show people how great your software is. Telling me I need to buy license to test out a feature, does the exact opposite. It disables me to test features that make or break your product. Why would I then even consider purchasing your product? What if I pay for it and it doesn’t work? Will I get money back?

As far as trials go, Microsoft nailed this with Visual studio. You can always download 90 days free-trial of any version of Visual studio you want. And the last time I checked, all features worked. Now, if Microsoft can do it (and they really don’t have to), so can you.


You lied to me what your trial can do

This actually is quite obvious from previous paragraphs. But, just in case you didn’t get it… People don’t like to be lied to. If you promised me full-featured trial, I expect a full-featured trial. If you cannot deliver that, then don’t advertise it. Write something along the lies of: “We offer trial with missing key features”. Then, I will have no problems with it. I won’t download it, but at least I won’t feel lied to.