The idea Try It Before You Buy It has grown to become a common customer expectation. Most consumers expect to sample a product prior to purchasing to take the risk out of buying. Yet, sampling as a sales strategy in healthcare has all but vanished.Gone are the days where clinical providers strain to carry sacks full of trial products from trade shows or shuffle the samples that once stuffed their shelves. Where have all the freebies gone?
Considering fewer than half of all samples distributed are ever tried, they are an easy target to eliminate in an effort to reduce costs. But this approach may be costing you and your firm millions in potential sales. Sampling still remains the single best way to create brand experience and tee up sales like nothing else!
It’s about time healthcare reconsider their sampling policies and tap into what other industries already know.The advantages and benefits of letting prospects try before they buy considerably outweighs the effort and expense required. With a few changes in strategy and tactic, your sampling response rates will improve considerably while you advance your sales and marketing goals by following these ideas:
There is no brand more closely associated with sampling success than COSTCO. “When we compare it to other mediums … in-store product demonstration has the highest [sales] lift,” says Giovanni DeMeo of demo company Interactions, which handles Costco’s sampling program. “Giving out free samples has boosted sales in some cases by 2,000 percent.” To illustrate how sampling influences customer-purchasing behavior,Datalogix research revealed, sampled households were 4x more likely to purchase than the control group. That is,four times as many people purchased than those who did not receive a sample. Unit sales within the sample group also showed a 700% increase in purchases.Sampling programs work exceptionally well for healthcare if executed using the right approach.
Set Your Sample Strategy
Clarify Your Goals
The purpose of sampling is to create a positive brand experience resulting in a sale. Too often samples are distributed as part of a half-baked plan. Sales and customer service people are given a cursory supply of grip stock in hopes they will convert into sales.A trial offer can serve as both an effective marketing tactic and powerful sales tool. Consider a few ways sampling will advance your promotional objectives:
- Reaches a new target segment
- Expands lateral product use
- Builds value and maintains price integrity
- Demonstrates superior brand performance
- Interrupts competitive brand loyalty
- Exposescustomer insights
- Drives traffic to new market platforms or promotional programs
- Overcomes low consumer confidence or unfavorable brand image
A productive sampling strategy requires clarity on expected outcomes, focus on a target audience and a straight forward execution plan. Our firm created sampling protocols for several dental companies aimed at selling to dentists and hygienists using this approach.Their results were impressive, considerably exceeding industry averages.
Monitor Metrics & Methods
A definitive sampling strategy can yield triple digit product trial rates increasing sales considerably. To realize the full potential of sampling, both sales and marketing objectives must be clearly defined. This includes Identifying specific metrics to track progress and verify if goals were met. Some ways to measure results include:
- total sample requests
- coupon redemption rate
- surveys completed
- clicks to view offer
- user feedback received
- sales conversion rate
- total new customers acquired
- total sales generated
Narrow Your Niche
Use your sampling strategy goals todefine yourtarget audience. If your goal is to expand customer reach, it isbetter to focus on specific market segmentsor demographics where your product has sold successfully. If you wish to appeal to new users, those who have never purchased your product before, identify subcategories by specialty, location or age. It is tempting to want to ‘expand your net’ but, sampling success is achieved by narrowing your scope.
Conditions that Qualify
There are specific conditions proven to set sampling up for greater success. For example, food samples have greater conversion rates around hungry prospects than those who are not. Consider when your target audience may be more receptive and more likely to buy.Then position your offer to capitalize on these opportunities.
Trial conversions are highest when sampled products are used immediately upon receipt. This is why educational events with hands on instruction are excellent sampling environments to promote sales.And, trade shows typically deliver lower conversion rates because of the long lapse between receipt and their use.
Sales reps will enjoy higher sales conversions by assisting buyers to identify a case where the sample can be used. This technique establishes a higher sense of urgency for use and allows sooner experience product advantages. Even more valuable, representatives now have an invaluable follow up opportunity to solicit user feedback and ask for an order.
Sampling is always the next best alternative to selling.Yet, medical and dental consumers are more receptive to trying new products at the following times:
- When an order is placed, offer a complementary sample
- When a prospect expresses or implies a performance need, want or expectation
- When product praise or success story is shared
- During an educational session
- After an attempt at closing has been rejected
Timing is Everything
How effectively samples are positioned in selling scenarios significantly impacts how well they generate sales. One of the biggest mistakes representatives make is offering samples as an afterthought or ‘throw in’ after presenting another product. As if the sample will sell itself! Products or services sold or sampled in any sales scenario should always serve as a prescribed remedy to a buyers stated or implied need.Reps must be trained to position products as solutions in their sales process. This is done by skillful blending qualifying questions with solid product knowledge.
Words that Work
Representatives who ask for orders prior to offering samples make more sales. Therefore, the closing sequence used has a big impact on sales outcome. Ideally, a sample would only be offered after asking prospects to buy. Most companies have generous return policies providing the same no risk protection as sampling—but better. Asking for an order before sampling is a better option because buyers will gain experience using the product and enjoy its benefits sooner. And, customer’s who buy before they try gain greater product appreciation and enjoy its value sooner.
Fruitful Follow Up
- 44% of salespeople give up after one follow up
- 80% of sales require five follow ups…or more
These sobering stats expose huge sales opportunity for any rep on the planet.Big money is being left on the table every day. To help, we’ve created a sampling follow up protocol shown to boost sales to triple digits.Here’s how it works:
When a prospect agrees to try a sample, representatives would follow up to obtain an order at a later time. The problem is, most prospects are not typically available after the sample is tried. This causes sales from sampling to plummet. It is important to keep in mind, most clinical providers are accustomed to giving feedback in exchange for services received or access to product demos. Therefore, representatives who schedule follow up feedback meetings at the time a sample is provided enjoy an impressive 78% increase in sales made from samples. This compares to the current industry standard of only 4%. We’ve included some word tracks in a FREE Sampling for Higher Sales Cheat Sheet HERE.
Customers buy long before they pay.Sampling as a much bigger impact than simply selling a product. They provide a chance for buyers to experience your brand of service, tech support, product knowledge and customer care. So, don’t be so short-sighted and stingy when it comes to letting customers try before they buy.When positioned appropriately,sampling will boost sales to expand new users and deliver long-term loyal customers. To achieve true sales potential, sometimes a brand needs to lead by a sample. If your company’s sampling results could use a boost, call us, we can help. 800-471-2619
 SOURCE: The Marketing Donut