My wife and I are regular vendors at a local Farmers’ Market. We also enjoy working trade shows and similar events. Since we sell food products, we often have samples available. A recent guest interaction has prompted me to change my plan regarding sampling.
Recently at the local Farmers’ Market I am approached by a young lady who seemed interested in Verve, a healthy energy drink, that is on my table. She is unsure and asks if she may have a sample of the sugar-free version. I wasn’t set up for sampling that day but since I had the sample containers with me I obliged. She had a sip of what I had to offer and that was it. No purchase.
I felt ripped off as I realized this lady had no intentions of actually buying anything. She was curious as to what the product tasted like and that was it. Now I was left with an open can of product that eventually got tossed and out the cost of a can of Verve.
Later on I was discussing this with a buddy who I have partnered with to promote functional gourmet coffee. Beau sends out samples all the time but not necessarily to anyone who asks. He tells me that it is his gut feeling that decides. Beau knows a fellow who never sends out samples and, if asked, will tell you that if you want to try his product you can buy a box.
While contemplating this blog post I decided to consult my favorite book on working trade shows, Guerrilla Trade Show Selling (by Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark S. A. Smith, and Orvel Ray Wilson). On Page 120 is a blurb that describes sampling and exactly what happened at the Market.
If your product is edible, you obviously want people to sample your wares. But keep in mind that classic trade show sales story:
Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair.
Said Simple Simon to the pimean, “Let me taste your wares.”
Said the pieman to Simple Simon, “Let me see your penny.”
Said Simple Simon to the pieman, “I fear I haven’t any.”
Before offering a sample, the pieman qualified his prospect, checking for economic buying power. Applying this idea to your samples, always ask for something in exchange for giving your sample. Get information.
Bottom line is I had not qualified the lady at the market who wanted a sample. Going forward, some options I am considering are:
- Shoot videos of people sampling my product. Those less interested may back away. Those that are interested are helping me with promotional material. (Yes, I will post a video even if the person is not pleased with the taste. The occasional grimace on video lends more credibility and is funny too!)
- When asked for a sample, respond, “If you want to try the product, it is $4.95 per can.”
- Money back guarantee. Tell the person asking for the sample that if they buy a can, drink it, and are not completely satisfied that I will refund their money.
I look forward to your comments.