I would advise a colleague to do the following before signing up for a trial:
(1) Start by researching Sprout Social's success in your market.
(2) Secure buy-in from senior management before day 1 of the trial. Your research and behind-the-scenes interviews with other users - and Sprout's customer service team - will serve you well in making an informed decision. Also, the $39/user cost should factor into your planning at this stage.
(3) After #1 and #2 are in place, go into your trial full steam. Don't test Sprout Social with other options. This will only confuse you.
(4) Every day during the trial, track your productivity while assessing the product's teachability if you will be using Sprout with your team or other employees in your organization. I think it's critical to have at least one tech savvy team member in your corner to ensure a seamless and successful, implementation.
(5) After the trial, talk with customer service about any issues that may have come up during your trial. They may be able to work with you on customizing Sprout to meet your requirements.