Free Trial Vs. Sales Demo: Try before you buy

We’ve all had that demo before: The salesperson doesn’t take the time to understand your business or your needs. The complexity of the setup process is glossed over—or worse, never even mentioned. Pricing isn’t revealed until the end. They highlight fancy features, but you’re left wondering “How the heck does this apply to me?”.

Fast forward a few months, and now you’re smack in the middle of busy season, overwhelmed with a real estate software that’s difficult to use, isn’t simplifying your workflows, and to top it all off —you’re locked into a contract that isn’t up until the following year.

Take control of the conversation—start with a free trial

You don’t have time to waste, so why let a quota-driven salesperson take an hour of your time, control the conversation and withhold important information such as pricing?

A free trial will allow you to see exactly what the software looks like, how it functions, and how you will actually interact with it. That way, you won’t have to rely solely on the word of a salesperson, or a list of features found somewhere online.

But won’t scheduling a demo first save me time?

It seems fair to think that scheduling a demo first will save you time—after all, it’s typically just a 30 minute meeting. 

However, showing you the product isn’t the reality of a sales demo.

For most software products, the truth is that scheduling a sales demo is giving a salesperson control of the conversation, what you see, and your time. They know their product and know exactly which areas to highlight—and which to avoid. On most sales demos, you’re viewing the product through their lens, and never getting the chance to experience how the product will work uniquely for you. 

If you choose to go with a real estate software based only on what you’ve seen through a demo, you run the risk of not knowing exactly what you’re getting into, which can ultimately cost you more time and money in the long run. 

Instead of booking a demo first, invest just a few moments of your day to start a free trial. 

But… what if I don’t have time to try it out?

If you’re pressed on time and don’t have the chance to start with a free trial first, here are some quick steps you can take to ensure your demo is personal, informative and worthwhile. 

Step 1: Know your process

To better understand how new real estate software could work for your business, team, or brokerage, it’s important to start by clearly identifying your current process. 

To get thinking about your current process, here are a few questions you could ask yourself prior to the demo:

  • How does a new transaction begin? 
  • Where is the listing or buyer’s agreement first created? 
  • How are agents having forms signed? 
  • Where are agents turning documents in? 
  • Who is responsible for reviewing those documents?
  • How are agents made aware if something is incomplete or missing?
  • Are there other parties involved throughout the transaction? 
  • How are they notified or kept in the loop?

The more details you can share on the demo about your current process, the more tailored the conversation becomes—and the quicker you’ll be able to determine if the product may or may not be a good fit. 

Additionally, knowing what’s working about your process is just as important as knowing what needs to be fixed and what can be better.

You don’t need to replace everything—and it’s unlikely that your agents want to learn how to do everything in new systems. Know what works well and what’s not worth redoing, relearning, and spending money on.

Step 2: Know what the software should make better, easier or simpler

Think about what prompted you to look into a new real estate software. Typically, something is not working in your current process that lead you to this point. 

  • Are important tasks falling through the cracks? 
  • Are agents missing documents?
  • Is your team unaware of who is responsible for what? 
  • Are you spending too much time writing emails?
  • Did you make it to the closing table and realize that paperwork is missing or incomplete? 

Take some time to identify the root of the problem and determine exactly what you need in order to make your process better, easier, or simpler. Communicate this on the demo to confirm that the software can do what you need it to. 

Step 3: Establish a list of questions

One of the main benefits of a live demo is the chance to address any questions or concerns up front. 

Prior to your demo, jot down a list of questions that you have and start the conversation with those questions whenever possible. 

Some examples of questions to start with might include:

  • How are tasks managed in the system?
  • Are tasks customizable?
  • How can agents stay in the loop of deadlines and critical dates?
  • How are documents organized? 
  • How can I keep the lender, title company, or any other outside parties up-to-date on the status of the transaction? 

To save yourself some additional time, take a quick look through the software’s FAQ page prior to the demo to see if any of your more general questions have been answered. This way, you’ll go into the demo having a basic understanding of the software and its offerings, and be able to focus more time on seeing how it can work specifically for you. 

Why it’s time to buck the sales demo and actually test software first

The role of the salesperson has a good place—and they fill a necessary role for many companies. However, in an industry of growing competition and an arms-race to offer the most features possible, salespeople have been driven to gloss over the reality, ignore what makes a company a genuinely good fit, and tell you that everything you want is “coming soon” rather than not at all. 

So, instead of letting another salesperson control the conversation, withhold straight answers to your important answers, or require you to sign an annual contract before you even get to test the software, start with a free trial. 

Arm yourself with knowledge and take control back. Know what the product does, and schedule the demo to better understand what you already have experienced. Let them help you achieve success, and then pay for the product.