Free Trial vs Product Demo: Which Yields Better Sales?

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When marketing products, businesses need to employ various tactics to ensure that their products are seen and considered by potential customers. One of the most effective methods is to offer a free trial or product demo.

Free trials and product demos allow customers to experience or use the product before they purchase it, allowing them to see the value in the product and make an informed decision. According to the Product Led, for most companies, it makes sense to offer a demo, even if you also offer a free trial, because some portion of your customers will always prefer the additional handholding and the opportunity to ask questions before they buy.

Making use of both strategies can be costly. So, if marketing budget is tight, you can just settle with one strategy. However, it can be difficult to determine which method yields better sales.

This article will explore the pros and cons of free trials and product demos and provide insight into which method is best for increasing sales. 

What Is A Free Trial?

A free trial is a promotional method that allows potential customers to use a product or service without paying. Free trials can be offered for a short period, such as a few days or weeks, or a longer period, such as a month or two. 

Free trials are often used for subscription-based products and services, such as software, streaming services, and online courses. During the free trial period, customers are granted access to the product or service and can use it to determine if it suits their needs.

The Pros Of Free Trials

Free trials are a great way for businesses to promote their products and services, but there are pros and cons to consider before offering them. The advantages include the following:

1. Allows For Familiarity

The primary benefit of free trials is that they allow customers to get a feel of the product or service before they make a purchase. This can be especially helpful for people who are unsure of a product’s value or are reluctant to commit to a long-term purchase.

2. Demonstrates Value To Customers

By offering a free trial, businesses can demonstrate the value of their product or service, which can help convince customers to make a purchase. Additionally, free trials can help businesses acquire new customers who may have yet to be reached.

Cons Of Free Trials

Despite these perks, free trials can also be risky for businesses. Here are some of the significant risks:

1. Risk Of Abuse

For one, there is the potential for customers to take advantage of the free trial and then cancel before the trial period is over. This can result in a loss of revenue and can be detrimental to a business’s bottom line. Additionally, offering free trials can be expensive as businesses must incur the costs associated with setting up and managing the trial.

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2. Difficulties In Management

Free trials can also be difficult to manage. Businesses must ensure that customers know when the trial period ends and that they are billed accordingly. This can require significant time and resources, which can be costly for businesses.

There are potential risks associated with offering free trials. There’s always the risk of copycats. Some customers will also abuse the free trial by creating multiple accounts. Some users might just even log in for a free trial and pirate your product. 

What Is A Product Demo?

A product demo is a marketing strategy in which a company showcases its product’s features and benefits to potential customers. A company representative will explain the product’s features through a presentation and demonstrate how it can solve customers’ problems.

They may also provide a hands-on demonstration of the product to give customers a better understanding of what it can do.

Pros Of Product Demos

Product demos are a great way to showcase the features of a product and give potential customers a better understanding of how it works. This is especially beneficial for products that require a hands-on approach. However, there are pros and cons associated with product demos that should be considered. The following are the advantages or pros of this method:

1. Increased Sales

Product demos can be an effective way to increase sales and generate interest in a product. Showing potential customers how the product works and what it can do ensures they can better understand the product and be more likely to make a purchase.

2. Improved Customer Engagement

Product demos can also create a more interactive experience with customers, as they can get hands-on with the product and ask questions. This helps create a more meaningful connection with customers and build trust in the brand. Product demos, therefore, boost customer engagement.

3. Increased Visibility

Product demos can also introduce customers to new products. This can be especially effective for companies launching a new product, as it helps create awareness and excitement about the product.

4. More Insights

Product demos can also give businesses valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences. By observing how customers interact with the product, businesses can better understand what features are most important to them and how they can improve their product offerings.

Cons Of Product Demos

Now, it’s time to talk about the drawbacks of employing product demos as a marketing strategy: 

1. Costs

One of the biggest drawbacks of product demos is the cost. Product demos can be expensive, especially if you need to hire a demonstrator or product ambassador. Additionally, they require a significant amount of preparation and rehearsal. This takes a lot of time and effort, and there is always the risk that something could go wrong during the demo.

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2. Scaling Difficulties

Product demos can also take more work to scale. If your product is complex or has many features, it can be difficult to demonstrate them quickly. Additionally, if you are doing product demos in person or over the phone, reaching many customers at once can take time and effort.

3. Technical Difficulties

Product demos can also be prone to technical difficulties, as many elements need to work correctly for the demo to succeed. This can be a major source of customer frustration, which leads to a negative experience. 

4. Unsatisfied Customers

Product demos can lead to unsatisfied customers if the product doesn’t meet their expectations. If the product doesn’t perform as advertised or is unsuitable for their needs, customers may be disappointed or dissatisfied. Worse of all, they might think that they got scammed. In turn, this gives your brand a negative reputation.

Which Method Yields Better Sales?

Both free trials and product demos can be effective tools for increasing sales. However, it is difficult to determine which method yields better sales. Ultimately, the method that yields better sales will depend on the product or service, the target audience, and the marketing budget you have.

For subscription-based products and services, free trials are often the best approach. Free trials allow customers to experience the product or service without purchasing. This can benefit businesses, as it allows potential customers to get used to the product and see its value, leading to higher conversion rates.

Product demos are often the better option for products requiring a hands-on approach, such as gadgets or tools that need to be personally operated. Product demos allow potential customers to experience the product firsthand and answer any questions they may have. However, product demos can be costly and time-consuming, so businesses should consider the cost-benefit ratio before investing in product demos.


When selling products, businesses have two primary methods they can use to introduce potential customers to their products: free trials and product demos. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and it can be difficult to determine which will yield better sales results. So, before investing time and money in any method, assess the business first and determine what is best for your product and target market.

Free trial article and permission to publish here provided by Claire Glassman. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on December 26, 2022. 
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