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If you sell packaged software, you most likely offer some form of free trial.  For 30 years, this has been the de facto standard way to grow your user base one seat at a time.  Yet industry experts quote a download to paid conversion rate ranging from between 1.5% to 2%.

Yet for SaaS trials, according to the SaaS trial conversion vendor Totango, paid conversions (without a credit card) run 15%.  Why do SaaS companies see a trial conversion rate 7 times higher than packaged software?  They actually know who their best prospects are.

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SaaS based applications have (at least) basic usage intelligence covering number of logins, hours used, etc.  Instead of sales treating all prospects equally, SaaS vendors can focus their sales efforts on the 20% that are the most active users, and let marketing ‘drip’ the other 80% that sign up but never really exercise the product to make them active users.

Packaged application providers, however, are largely driving in the dark with their headlights off. They have no idea what happens after the trial download, except perhaps confirmation of activation.  Packaged application vendors are forced to treat all prospects as equal, and as we all know, they are most definitely not. If 20% of trial users actively evaluate the software, that is where the sales focus should be.

Look at it another way:  Think about how much time, effort and money you spend getting visitors to your website and minutely tracking their behavior all the way through trial download.  Why in the world would you stop there?

We have provided numerous packaged application vendors in a variety of markets software intelligence providing them with SaaS level insight on the usage of their applications, including trial downloads, where doubling conversions is a perfectly reasonable return.  Ask me how!