My kids used to love to go to Sam’s Club. Not for the bargains, because they weren’t spending their money; they were spending mine. And not for the wide selection of toys, because Wal-Mart’s toy aisles were always bigger.
They liked Sam’s Club because of the free food samples.
It was a veritable free food buffet lining the beginning of each aisle. Free samples of freshly fried sausage, the newest cheese dip, a cheese plate, snack crackers, or during the holiday season you could sample hot chocolate or spiced apple cider.
My kids weren’t alone in the sampling of the food variety, because as I tried to maneuver my cart down the beginning of an aisle, I was invariably stalled by the throngs of other hearty sample eaters waiting their turn for a small paper cup of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn.
I don’t ever recall actually purchasing any of the full-size products that were offered as free samples. Usually my resolve NOT to purchase the items was reinforce by my kids nagging me to frustration and anger and telling them no, out of spite from their begging. (Gosh, I’m a bad parent, no one else would ever say no to their kids, just because of that, huh?)
But, I’m sure that Sam’s Club made plenty of sales with this technique of offering samples. They still do it, so it must work.
But free samples aren’t just for food. How many CD-ROM disks do you receive each month offering free 500, 1000, 1050 minutes of AOL service? (UPDATE: November 2015; How Much Did It Cost AOL To Send All Those CDs?)
In my multi-level marketing business, my sponsor’s main thrust for making sales is offering a sample. In many cosmetic-based MLMs, small samples of skin care products and cosmetic “colors” are offered to prospective buyers. With the company, Quixtar, many IBOs(reps) are taught, for example, to hand out a can of XS Energy Drink to entice a sale. Recently, I noticed that Oasis Lifesciences’ reps offer a free sample of their liquid vitamin product. This got me to thinking about why I have NEVER offered sample products.
Free samples work, right? Everybody uses them.
Insurance companies don’t use them.
Realtor’s® don’t use them.
You have to make a decision to purchase items like houses, health insurance, and even cars. (the test drive is not really a sample) Ask the local Lexus dealer if you can have a Free 30-Day Trial of the latest Lexus Hybrid, and see what he says.
But Dave, giving away a sample of hand lotion to get a client to buy a bottle of the stuff isn’t exactly like buying a car.
Okay, let’s pare it way down.
Let’s use this hypothetical hand lotion as our example.
You go call on Client A. You have in your hand your Dreamy&Creamy brand of lotion. You show the brochure, you let the client sniff the “oh-so-fresh” fragrance through the bottle opening, you squirt a dab of the miracle handcream on the back of his hand and you let him rub the “silky goodness” into his skin.
(Excuse me, I got a little “throw-up” in my throat typing that.)
And now you announce, “I’m so sure that this is the product for you, I’m going to let you try a free sample”. Call me if you want to order some. How many little trial bottles of lotion or sample packets are you going to have to give out in order to make a sale? How many follow-up calls will you make? When will the prospective client begin to ignore your phone calls?
So, why don’t you close the sale immediately after the prospective client has tried the lotion? Why prolong the sale process with days’ of sampling? You have the opportunity then and there. Take it.
Look, you’ve already purchased the one bottle of lotion to demonstrate the effectiveness. Why invest in other smaller bottles? Why increase your expenses?
My sponsor’s financial situation is better than mine. He can afford to hand out water treatment systems on a trial basis. He can afford the extra expense of stocking several of these systems in hopes of selling one. Maybe you can afford the expense of doing something similar.
Quite frankly, I can’t afford that kind of expense. And furthermore, If I truly am in the business of “duplicating my efforts”, how many of my downline can afford the initial expense of duplicating this sampling process.
How effective is a sample without a sales pitch? And if you are going to pitch anyway; then why do you need the sample?
Use a full size bottle, demo the product, but don’t hand out samples indiscriminately.
Because until you make the sale, a sample product only makes money for your representative company. If you can’t close the sale, why give away a sample?
Instead, offer to the client an incentive to purchase; an incentive to repeat a purchase…better yet, offer them consistent superior service.
That would be a “sample” they most likely rarely receive. They might find that more valuable than a free fried sausage at Wal-Mart.