When it comes to sales, the rule of thumb is close now, not later.

But depending on your product, your sales process may require close hand holding of the potential customer. This often occurs when your product is new, or if you have a lot of competition in your respective market. For those types of scenarios, a free trial can be an awesome tool to shoot you up into the top position of the customer’s buying process.

Here’s the bottom line: Free trials get people drunk. And that’s sometimes good, sometimes bad. There are all kinds of drunks after all…happy ones, angry ones, philosophers, athletes, you name it.

If your product offers real value to the customer, and you’ve done a good job of showcasing that, then a free trial should always lead to a paying customer (happy drunk). The reality, however, is that trial users only convert to a paying customer roughly 15 to 20 percent of the time. Those are the drunks that like beer, but get used to the taste of not having to pay for it.

15-20% conversion is okay, but not great. The good news is that those numbers can easily get better through careful data analysis, customer feedback, and creative strategy.

So in essence, yes–you should offer a free trial–as long as you are committed to understanding your metrics and audience. When executed properly, you not only have a unique opportunity to scale your business, but you also receive previously inaccessible product testing.

And that’s something that I think we can all drink to.