As a manager, I like to make sure that every quarter that each of my direct reports has written, agreed-to goals. I collect these goals in a Word document, but since that neither scales nor cascades well, I’ve recently been looking for a simple SaaS application to manage our quarterly Objectves and Key Results (OKRs).
What I’ve found, frankly, is a bit shocking.
Look, this is not the world’s most advanced technical problem. I want to enter a goal (e.g., improve sales productivity) and associate 1-3 key results with that goal (e.g., improve ARR per salesrep from $X to $Y). I have about 10 direct reports and want to assign 3-5 OKRs per quarter. So we’re talking 30-50 objectives with maybe 60-100 associated key results for my little test.
I’d like some progress tracking, scoring at the end of the quarter, and some basic reporting. (I don’t need thumbs-ups, comments, and social features.) If the app works for the executive team, then I’ll probably scale it across the company, cascading the OKRs throughout the organization, tracking maybe 1,200 to 1,500 objectives per quarter in total.
This is not rocket science.
Importantly, I figure that if I want to roll this out across the entire team, the app better be simple enough for me to just try it without any training, presentations, demos, or salescalls. So I decide to go online and start a trial going with some SaaS OKR management providers.
Based on some web searches, PPC ads, and website visits, I decide to try with three vendors (BetterWorks, 15Five, and 7Geese). While I’m not aiming to do a product or company comparison here, I had roughly the same experience across all three:
- I could not start a free trial online
- I was directed to an sales development rep (SDR) or account exec (AE) before getting a trial
- That SDR or AE tried to insist on a phone call with me before giving me the trial
- The trial itself was quite limited — e.g., 15 or 30 days.
At BetterWorks, after getting stuck with the SDR, I InMailed the CEO asking for an SDR-bypass and got one (thanks!) — but I found the application not intuitive and too hard to use. At 7Geese, I got directed to an AE who mailed me a link to his calendar and wanted to me to setup a meeting. After grumbling about expectations set by the website, he agreed to give me a trial. At 15Five, I got an SDR who eventually yielded after I yelled at him to let me “follow my own buyer journey.”
But the other thing I noticed is that all three companies started our relationship with a lie of sorts. What lie? In all three cases they implied that I’d have easy access to a free trial. Let’s see.
If you put a Free Trial button on your website, when I press it I expect to start an online process to get a free trial — not get a form that, once filled, replies that someone will be in touch. That button should be called Contact Us, not Free Trial.
7Geese was arguably more misleading. While the Get Started button down below might imply that you’re starting the process of getting access to a trial, the Get Started Now button on the top right says, well, NOW.
Worse yet, if you press the Get Started Now button on 7Geese, you get this screen next.
Tailored tour? I pressed a button called Get Started Now. I don’t want to setup a demo. I want to get started using their supposedly “simple” OKR tracking app.
15Five was arguably the most misleading.
When you write “14 days free. No credit card needed.” I am definintely thinking that when I press Get Started that I’ll be signing up for a free 14-day trial on the next screen. Instead I get this.
I didn’t ask to see if 15Five was right for my company. I pressed a button that advertised a 14-day free trial with no credit card required.
Why, in all three cases, did these companies start our relationship by lying to me? Probably, because in all three cases their testing determined that the button would be clicked more if it said Get Started or Frial Trial than if it said something more honest like Contact Us or Request Free Trial.
They do get more clicks, I’m sure. But those clicks start the relationship on a negative note by setting an expectation and immediately failing to meet it.
I get that Free Trials aren’t always the best way to market enterprise software. I understand that the more complicated the application problem, the less a Free Trial is effective or even relevant. That’s all fine. If you haven’t built a viral product or work in a consumer-esque cateogry, that’s fine. Just don’t promise a Free Trial on your website.
But when you’re in a category where the problem is pretty simple and you promise a Free Trial on your website, then I expect to get one. Don’t start our relationship with a lie. Even if your testing says you’ll get more clicks — because all you’ll be doing is telling more lies and starting more customer relationships on the wrong foot.