TALKING SALES 121: “Trialling your software is a big mistake”

Free trail                      “Cloud solutions – Start small but with full commitment” – discussion with John Smibert.



TonyHughesIn my last discussion with Tony Hughes he said that when selling cloud and software as a service now we no longer are selling the big solution all in one go; we’re actually putting in small implementations, getting people successful, and growing. So I asked him if this means that we should be offering software trials.

He was very quick to say NO – it is a very poor strategy.

He went on to give some very sound reasons why software trials in organisations lead to failure and lack of roll-out.

See Tony’s full interview below for the reasoning and some enlightening advice and guidance on selling cloud based software.


Tony is a leading author and keynote speaker in the world of B2B sales and sales leadership. He is well known for his strategic selling book “The Joshua Principle” and for the RSVPselling methodology.

See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


John:            Hello! I’ve got Tony Hughes with me again – welcome back, Tony!

Tony:            Hi, John!

John:            Tony, in our last discussion you talked about what people selling software need to be cognizant of to be successful.

Tony:            Yes.

John:            One of the things earlier in that discussion you talked about is with cloud and software as a service now we no longer are selling the big solution all in one go; we’re actually putting in small implementations, getting people successful, and growing. Now, that leads to trials. A lot of people sell software by saying, “Hey, go online and have a trial.” I’d be interested in your view whether that makes sense.

Tony:            Well, I’m going to sound like I’m contradicting myself, because in the last interview we had I talked about the fact that I like the way that values are aligned. In other words, the seller doesn’t really succeed financially until the customer deploys the volume, and the buyer doesn’t realise the benefits until they’ve deployed a volume either, so they shared risk into getting volume, so I like that model.

John:            So, you start small, which means a trial.

Free Trial 2


Tony:            No. Here’s me contradicting myself; I really don’t like trials. I believe we do need to sell a vision to the leadership in the enterprise, and they need to run a change management project for what they’re doing. Again, I’ll use CRM as an example. Change managing the sales organisation is a tough thing to do. If you send any kind of message that we’re not committed to what we’re doing, we welcome your feedback, feel free to reject things, you’re just inviting problems. The truth is every organisation needs a CRM system. You’ve got no chance of being customer-centric unless you have one, it’s the backbone on which you build and support customer experience, so the idea of a trial and dabbling I think is a giant mistake.

                    I see a lot of clients play around, for example, with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, they’ll give it to a very small group of people. I don’t like that as an idea, for the simple reason that the value of LinkedIn Sales Navigator is in all of the organisation being on it so they can get warm introductions to people and leverage the power of a network.

Free Trial 3


John:            So, instead of a trial, let’s use that as an example, instead of saying, “We’re going to trial and put a few people on it and see how it goes,” you’re saying that salespeople should be selling the total vision, where the company’s going to go all in with this, it should be rolled out to everybody, but let’s do it on a handful to get it right first, but day one we both commit that we’re going to go the full distance.

Tony:            Correct. If you want to phase the rollout as part of your change management programme, that’s great, but don’t send messages to your organisation that you’re not committed to what you’re doing. Many trials go nowhere and they just raise more questions than they answer. People need to be committed if they want to be successful with any project inside their organisation.

John:            I understand the psychology, I understand the importance of the commitment; I think it’s great advice – thank you very much, Tony!

Tony:            Thanks, John!


More interviews with Tony Hughes:


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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