Should You Offer a Free Trial When Selling Answering Service?

Some answering services offer a free trial to new clients. Others do not. Both camps are adamant about their reasons for making this decision. While there isn’t a right answer, it’s critical to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option, strategically picking the approach that best fits your business and business goals.

Ask yourself these questions:

Will a Free Trial Show Confidence? The implication in offering a free trial is that an answering service wouldn’t do so unless they had a high expectation that clients would stay on after the trial period ends. This denotes confidence.

A free trial sends the message that the answering service can back up their verbal promises with verifiable action. This signals that the answering service means what it says about their service.

Will a Free Trial Make You Look Desperate? The less a business charges for a product or service, the less value it possesses. Sometimes giving something away for free carries a too-good-to-be-true vibe, even to the point of making a company appear desperate for sales. Some prospects may assume your service is so poor that you need to give it away to entice them to use it.

Will a Free Trial Open You Up to Abuse? Yes, some people will take advantage of you. For this reason you should be careful with your screening of prospects and be strategic about the structure of your offer.

Will a Free Trial Increase Your Bottom Line? Offering a free trial will certainly provide you with more clients, but will it provide you with more paying clients? To be successful you must convert a high percentage of free trial prospects into paying clients.

A related concern is how long a client must remain on service to offset your costs in providing them with free service. For example, if they need to remain on service for one year, but on average cancel after nine months, then overall you lose money when you offer a free trial, which drags down your bottom line.

Will a Free Trial Devalue Your Offering? When answering services talk about the excellence of their service, the quality of their staff, and the value of their processes, they send a strong message to prospects that they are dealing with a top-notch provider. Their sales staff, website, and literature all back this up.

Many answering services worry that offering a free trial diminishes their assertions and offers a counterpoint to their claims. The concern is that all the talk of quality, and the costs to provide that quality, will be offset by offering a free trial.

Will a Free Trial Subtly Move Prospects into Clients? When a salesperson works with the prospect, the goal is to get the prospect to say “yes” and become a client. Prospects either say “yes” or “no.”

However, when offering a free trial, a third option presents itself. When a prospect agrees to a free trial, they say “maybe,” stopping short of making an unequivocal commitment. When the trial period ends, they will likely continue using the service, sliding into client status without ever explicitly saying “yes.” It will just happen.

Whether to offer a free trial is a tactical decision. When pursued strategically, either approach can produce positive results. So make sure you choose the right path for the right reasons, and then don’t question your decision.


Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at or call 800-901-7706.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan and a longtime member of the TAS industry.