How to Get the Most Out of a Virtual Data Room Free Trial

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Virtual data room software is an investment — one that should help your organization become more efficient and close deals faster. The best way to try out all the capabilities data room technology may offer is through a free trial.

In this guide, we will provide everything you need to know to make the most of your trial period so that your time, and investment, are well spent.

A free data room or a free trial of a paid one?

A free virtual data room is a solution for which you pay nothing. A free trial of paid software, in turn, allows you to try the product for a fixed time and see if it suits your needs.

With that being said, why spend money when there are free solutions? The answer is simple: functionality and data security of paid solutions are always superior to free storage options.

While a free platform can meet only the basic needs of your team for security and tools, paid data rooms deliver sophisticated business-tailored solutions –  bank-level encryption, protected document-sharing channels, audit trails, secure communications, and many other benefits.

Thus, if you need a feature-rich and secure document management platform for due diligence or another complex deal, you shouldn’t risk choosing free solutions.

The purpose of free trials 

Free trials are meant to give potential SaaS clients a taste of what the real experience is like. In turn, this often creates greater interest in the product and to a large extent, answers some of the questions the potential buyer may have. Free trials can be used to generate leads, as most buyers won’t hesitate to buy when they are satisfied with a product. 

It can be likened to test-driving a car before buying it. The only difference here is that most free trials are offered for at least 30 days. Within that ample time window, buyers can be certain that a product (virtual data room software) is genuine and comfortably make their buying decisions. 

Types of trial models

To demonstrate the value of a product to potential customers, providers rely on trial models such as free, paid, freemium, and reverse. We invite you to learn more about each of them and then check their pros and cons. 

1. Free trial

It is one of the simplest models which allows signed-up users to access all data room functions for a fixed time. If a customer decides on further using the platform, they need to start a paid subscription.

Some companies may request your payment details and automatically charge you after the expired free trial period.

2. Paid trial

As the name suggests,  a paid trial model requires payment to test the solution. It’s usually not a full price, but this trial model helps providers filter out time wasters.

3. Freemium model

Freemium allows trying the product for an unlimited period for free, but with limited functionality. Alternatively,  a service provider may  give a potential client access to all the functionality, but only for a while.

4. Reverse trial

The reverse trial is a hybrid mix of a free trial and freemium. It gives unlimited access to all the tools but only for a certain period. After it expires, a user goes back to limited functionality.

ProsCons
Free trialFree first-hand experience
All features are available
Time-limited
Possible automatic charges 
Paid trialNo feature limits during testingFee-based
Time-limited
Freemium modelUnlimited period for freeRestricted functionality
Reverse trialFree access to all functionsRestrictions on functions after a specific time

As for the VDR niche, providers generally offer a free trial period so that potential users can explore the functionality and see if it meets their needs.

What’s the ideal length of virtual data room free trial? 

Ideally, most virtual data room free trial periods last for at least a month and some can be extended if the potential customer asks nicely. In a survey found on Pierre Lechelle, 41% of most SaaS’ offer free trials for about 30 days, 18% offer for 2 weeks, 44% offer the free trial online and 41% did list the pricing on their sites.

  • No free trial offered.

Judging from the statistics above, it’s pretty clear that 56% of most SaaS providers do not offer free trials. While it’s entirely their choice, by doing so they are losing leads and directing traffic to their competitors. If a potential buyer finds out that another virtual data room provider is offering free trials, it’s natural for the buyer to go with the provider that has a free trial first.

  • Up to 14 days.

According to statistics from Torango, some providers offer 14-day trials. That’s barely enough time to influence a buyer’s decision. Within that period, some potential buyers are still trying to get used to the product and are left stranded mid-way. Shorter trials can only suffice when clients are choosing the virtual data room software for repository purposes or other shorter business transactions, but not for due diligence or capital raising.

  • 30 days or more.

It is safe to say if you are looking for a free trial of a SaaS product like virtual data room software, you should expect a 30-day time frame from most virtual data room providers. This period offers ample window to understand the product wholly and leave out regrets after making a buying decision.

Here are the free trial options top VDR providers offer to their potential customers.

ProviderFree trial periodBest for Access to functionality
iDealsFree 30-day trialSmall, medium, and large companiesUnlimited
DealRoomFree 14-day trialSmall, medium, and large companiesUnlimited
FirmRoomFree 30-day trialSmall and medium businessesLimited
IntralinksNo free trialLarge businesses
MerrillNo free trialMedium and large businesses
SecureDocsFree 14-day trialSmall and medium businessesUnlimited
SharefileFree 30-day trialSmall businessesLimited
CaplinkedFree 14-day trialSmall businessesUnlimited

When testing data rooms,  access to the platform’s functions is more important than the trial period duration. For example, a provider may offer 30 free days, but limit access to some features, making it difficult to test the product to the fullest.

In contrast, 14 days with full functionality are enough to test and even master the software. In a perfect scenario, providers offer the maximum trial period duration with full access to the feature set.

Getting the most out of a virtual data room: top things to consider 

There are a number of important things to consider when hunting for a great free virtual data room trial. It’s important to pay close attention to these details, as they can help you make a more informed decision that will bring maximum benefit to diligence management or complete control over confidential documents. Don’t be afraid to try more than one trial at a time to ensure you find the best fit for your needs.

1. Check data room security

Unlimited storage, unlimited users, ample branding options, and other compelling features might tempt you into purchasing a specific platform. But since you need a secure way to store sensitive data and control documents shared, you must be picky about superior document security controls.Make sure the provider you are testing offers bank-level encryption, granular permission settings, dynamic watermarking, audit logs, remote shred, and two-factor verification. These features guarantee secure data storage (even with unlimited documents), safe data processing practices, and protection from unauthorized access. With all this, you can manage business transactions without any concerns.

2. Look at customer support quality and response time 

You might want to try out the customer support to get a better idea of what you’ll be experiencing when you start using a paid virtual data room subscription. Be sure to ask any questions you have and see what kind of responses you get. 

Also consider the response time. Does staff respond promptly or does it take a while? Are they willing to assist no matter what the problem might be? Are the customer representatives courteous and patient? Do they offer 24/7 support professionals? These are all important things to think about when making your final decision.

3. Consider data loading methods

Loading data is going to be an important part of your interaction with the virtual data rooms. Ensure the platform features include bulk file upload, auto numbering, and support for as many formats as possible. Also, check how easy it is to set up the data room and have it ready for use. These are all important aspects that will help you know what you are getting into.

4. Assess restrictions on copying, downloading, and printing documents 

Be sure to open and view documents using the VDR software to determine if the process is straightforward. Find out if you need to download any software that will be required to view the documents and also check for restrictions to unauthorized users for secure document management. You’ll also need to look out for the ease of copying, downloading, and printing documents.

5. Consider the flexibility of user access settings

How easy is it to change single-user access or group access to confidential documents in the virtual data room? This is important to consider because you’ll be doing this from time to time. Managing settings should be hitch-free and super easy. The user permission settings have to be flexible for the administrator — this is non-negotiable.

6. Deploy software on your operating system and other devices 

This is a vital element you can’t afford to miss. Be sure to test the software to see if it’s compatible with your operating system and other devices like your mobile smartphones and tablets so that you can have access to it on the go.

If the data room is easily accessible to you and your internal and external stakeholders across a wide range of operating systems and mobile devices, then it’s a great choice. Also, Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs integration can be helpful for your team since you are already familiar with these tools.

7. Make sure the interface is intuitive and user-friendly

This is another important area you can’t afford to overlook. How friendly is the user interface of the data room provider or software? Do you need to be tech-savvy to understand it or can anyone who has a smartphone figure it out?

Remember, you are going to be using this software often. It shouldn’t be a source of frustration but a way to quickly strengthen your project management capabilities, simplify collaboration with your team and external stakeholders and streamline document management. So, look for such features as single sign-on, smart search, bulk upload, multilingual access, and mobile apps.

8. Check out the Q&A section

Always read through the Q&A to learn more about specific features. Keep an eye out for features like threaded commenting and template creation for transactions.

9. Consider virtual data room software speed

Within the trial period, you can easily find out if the software lags or if it’s a quick data room service topping the charts — but it might not be something you take note of. It’s easy to become engrossed with other features and forget to notice the run speed, however, it is an important element you won’t want to overlook. Be sure to test more than one free trial so that you can compare the speeds of different online data room providers and find the best option. 

10. Keep in mind customization/flexibility features

How easy is it to customize your own client portal to suit your organization’s taste or use? Find out if you can customize dynamic watermarking, alter user access, change how people view it, customize the printing settings, and other features. Consider how customizing and branding of the virtual data room influence business interactions.

Free trials vs demos, which is better? 

Demos are by nature very short and usually last just a few minutes on the site. Demo is short for the word “Demonstration”, which is exactly what it is — a short demonstration of the product. Potential customers can watch the demo and ask questions if they are confused about how the software works. 

A free trial on the other hand gives the intended user an opportunity to test the product for a longer period of time. Within this period, the user can acclimatize himself to everything the product offers and can make an informed buying decision.  

Which is better? It depends on the product being marketed. A free trial will enable buyers to make a more informed decision because they have used the software over a period of time, but that also means time is required for testing. However, a VDR free demo shows instant perks that may be quickly recognized as valuable and can help users make quicker buying decisions.

Benefits of demos

Demos are better when the product is too complex to fully understand and the user needs quick and clear guidance that explains the ins and outs of how to use the product. 

Also, a demo will show the user the main benefits of the product, enabling the user to take action quickly. The disadvantage however is that the prospect is only getting a glimpse of the software in action rather than first-hand experience.

Benefits of trials

If the product is easier to use and understand, a free trial is the best way to go. It provides users with first-hand experience with the product which a demo can’t offer. This ultimately leads the user to make a more informed decision. 

Free trials are often better than demos because the provider goes the extra mile to show potential customers the benefits of their product and what it can do for them. However, this can be a waste of time if the product requires extra effort to understand and ends up not being a good fit for your organization. 

ProsCons
DemoDemonstrates the software tools and capabilities
Explains how to use a solution
No product testing 
TrialAllows trying a solution in practice
Enables assessing all the pros and cons
Wastes your time if not suitable

Over to you

Free trials are great. They provide the opportunity to explore every part of a SaaS product before you make an investment. If a free trial is not available, don’t despair. You can still do your research using the points we provided in this article to get to know the provider and their product better. Find the right virtual data room for your organization and you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the benefits of a secure file-sharing and storage tool.

References

  1. “SaaS Free Trial: Everything you need to know” by Pierre Lechelle. SaaS Marketing & Growth. https://www.pierrelechelle.com/saas-free-trial
  2. “Free Trials: An Efficient, Profitable Way To Generate Sales” by Stephen Hetzel. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/04/05/free-trials-an-efficient-profitable-way-to-generate-sales/?sh=407349ae6005
  3. “Optimal Software Free Trial Strategy: The Impact of Network Externalities and Consumer Uncertainty” by Hsing Kenneth Cheng. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228280470_Optimal_Software_Free_Trial_Strategy_The_Impact_of_Network_Externalities_and_Consumer_Uncertainty
  4. Apr, 2020. “3 Things to Consider Before Signing Up for a Free Trial” by Lauren Goode. https://www.wired.com/story/things-to-consider-before-signing-up-for-free-trials/

Author

Ronald Hernandez

Founder, CEO at dataroom-providers.org

Data room selection & optimization expert with 10+ years of helping companies collaborate more securely on sensitive documents.

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