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Should I Use a Free CRM Trial? By Mike Santoro, Technology Advisors, Inc.

Google Free CRM Trial and you get more than two million hits. If you want a CRM trial version, you've got that option, but should you use it?

Free CRM trials are a great way to familiarize yourself with a product before purchasing it. You'll be able to have a true "day in the life" experience and gain a better understanding of the functionality. Think of the benefits of test driving a car versus reading brochures and seeing a commercial. You want to know how it really works and the only way is to drive it. Free trials become problematic when you use them too soon, which is often the case. They can be a good thing, provided you follow these two pieces of advice.

1.) Know what you want before testing. Smart car buyers don't begin by test driving a car. They first list their main concerns such as budget and type of automobile. Then they'll do some basic research to determine a couple of the models that fit their profile. This is the same process you should take when purchasing CRM. Evaluate your needs first, then perform research, then finally begin actually going out to look. Be a smart CRM buyer.

2.) Have someone knowledgeable ride shotgun. As with a car test drive, you should have a knowledgeable sales consultant accompany you. If you go without one in a car you could miss how the navigation, cruise control, or seat warmers work. I think you'll agree that CRM is a lot more complicated. Don't navigate it alone. Work with someone who can provide you with a good overview and then let you explore. When you have questions (you will) it's never safe to assume anything. With someone knowledgeable to guide you, you'll have a good experience on which to base your decision.

Keeping in mind the two above pieces of advice you just read, here are three of the better CRM trials out there for hosted CRM:

  • SageCRM.com Free CRM Trial -- 30 day trial. If you want to continue using the product after the trial period is over you can elect to subscribe and maintain all the data from the initial trial.
  • NetSuite CRM Trial -- Limited trial and has to be scheduled in advance. Data will not come over. You must participate in a demonstration before you can get the trial version.
  • Salesforce.com CRM Trial -- 30 day trial. Don't worry about finding a knowledgeable person to ride shotgun, they'll call you within ten minutes of hitting submit on this form. The sales team can be overwhelming and pressuring, but their product is solid.

Free trials can be dangerous if you just dive in. Identify your needs, do some good research and have someone knowledgeable to explain. That way you'll get the right information out of the trial to make the right decision for the long term.

About Mike Santoro
Mike Santoro serves as the Marketing Manager. For the past three years he's had a unique view of the industry, using Sage CRM SalesLogix internally while working to promote a full portfolio of CRM products. His insights about the industry along with how a real company uses CRM will be shared in this blog.

About Technology Advisors
Technology Advisors has worked since 1991 to improve sales, marketing, and customer service performance through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy consulting and solution implementation. We offer Business Advisory, Implementation, Customization, Training, and Support services for the top CRM technology.