The cost of doing business continues to rise, and there seems to be no end in sight. There are a lot of ways you can save money in your business that doesn’t include having to reduce your workforce or make difficult decisions that mean your business can’t function at full capacity.

Rather than cut corners, innovative companies are looking for more ways to save money on their bottom line by finding and securing free software, services, and more for their business. If you are willing to ask, you might receive. And if you have the right negotiation strategies, you could get a lot more than you initially thought. Here are several ways you can get the free software – and more! – for your business.

software

Demo It

One of the easiest ways to get access to free software is to sign up for a demonstration pitch. During these meetings, which usually last anywhere from 30-90 minutes, you get to see the full suite of products that a software company offers. This time allows you to ask questions and envision its use in your company. And software companies are vying for your attention more than you know, so they are always happy to provide these free sessions.

During your meeting, you might be inclined to ask for an extended trial period. This isn’t something software companies will grant lightly, but if you are a good use case for them and they can benefit from you being a customer, you might be able to snag yourself some free software. The trick is to ask for it. Many business owners simply do not ask for extensions or demo time beyond the 14-, or 30-day trials. But there is no rule about bargaining with a software company to see about getting more time with the software company.

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Ask for a Price Break

Nobody likes to admit they need help, but if you call up your software companies and explain to them that you have been a loyal customer for a number of years, and your business is not doing too hot, you might be able to negotiate a better price. Even if your business is doing great, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to trim some of the fat that might be keeping you from your healthy bottom line. Of course, software companies need to make money too, but a short hiatus from paying for the software will help you and will ensure that you stick around for the long run. With so much “free software” on the market today and more of it becoming available, companies that charge premium prices need to be willing to play ball. If you are already invested in a pricey platform, and are enjoying the service but need a little break on the price, don’t be afraid to ask. The worst the company can say is no.

Shop Around

If you’ve ever paid for internet or cable services before, you know that it doesn’t take much to put two companies against each other. And while we are not in the game of trying to steal business from one company and give it to another, when your bottom line is in trouble, you might need to do everything you can to get the best deals around. A common strategy that people use is to get a quote, shop it around, and then shop it around again. It’s done in the mortgage industry, the insurance industry, and many other industries.

It’s not always the best approach because software companies know you are shopping around, but if you have a big enough company, they might consider giving you some free software in exchange for a contract that gets your buy-in for a more extended period of time. Just like the cable companies: get three months free when you sign up for two years. All it takes is the gumption to ask for a different option, and you might get it and some free software while you are at it! And if you do get a better price or even free software, let the competitors know that you were able to get a good deal somewhere else. It’s not rude; it’s about keeping businesses informed. They might even consider offering you something better. It’s about keeping your options open.

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Be the Champion

While everyone is caught up in becoming an influencer, few established businesses are actually offering this service. Social media is where it’s at, and if you can show that you have a large following on social media, you might be able to leverage that kind of exposure for some free software.

Even if you don’t have a large social media following but have a killer email list, you can offer to recommend the product and be an ambassador. Of course, all of this hinges on you trying and liking the product first. And you can’t try the product without some access to it. Again, employ the extended demo trial and negotiate options for becoming a champion of the brand. This approach helps if you are already working with another brand to show that you have clout in the industry, but you never know who might be looking for an opportunity to reach beyond their following in the software industry.

Be the Champion, Anyway.

Even if you don’t score some free software out of your offers, keep in mind that brands reach out to loyal customers all the time. So if you decide that a particular software package is worth paying for, continue paying for it and show your love for it on social media. This could attract other software companies, and you might even find yourself being offered free software and other opportunities as a result of being so vocal about the kind of products you use. And if the company you are paying sees what you are up to, the might rethink your original conversation.

Trade Up

Sometimes cell phone companies will offer to buy out a contract from a competition cell phone company just to get your business. If you have a term left on your current contract with a competitor, you could engage in conversations about having that contract bought out in favor of taking on software from another company. And while you are at it, get them to throw in some free use time or add some upgrades to the software.

After all, they’ll be getting your hard-earned money for a designated period of time, and you want to make the most of that relationship. They want your business, you need out of your contract, and why not throw some added value on top of that deal while you are at it. If you are ready to start shopping around but are still tied into a contract, don’t be afraid to throw this option on the table. Because so many companies click and buy software without considering that there might be more to the deal than meets the eye, if you stand out as someone who is interested in the finer points of the business relationship, it could pay off big time.

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The cost of doing business continues to rise, and there seems to be no end in sight. There are a lot of ways you can save money in your business that doesn’t include having to reduce your workforce or make difficult decisions that mean your business can’t function at...