April 13, 2008 7:46 AM EDT
I have an online sports community, in which we offer athletes, teams and clubs the use of our platform and tools for free. Like your product users or end consumers are used to the wave of free social networks, communities and applications usage, which are quite difficult to charge users a fee for the service. You could always offer a premium feature to these users for a small fee (but it would have to be significantly small - under $5 per month). However, B2B is quite different in this case. From my experience you can offer a free trial period to these businesses but they would feel better if they paid a monthly fee. To them its not about the money but rather the convenience and efficiency of their employees (cost/benefit). This is specific to larger companies.
For smaller companies they would be quite skeptical about free services because they are using it for their business (their baby) but this would also apply to free services. Here I think a trial period and a low fee could be a good idea. However, providing YOUR product for free to business users would be a good thing IF the owners are internet/mobile savvy and are not opposed to trying new products AND that your service is not an application they would need to download. This would ultimately boil down to who your target market is.