Using “Try Before You Buy” with Professional Services

If you sell a tangible good, you likely have the opportunity to let a prospect “try” before they “buy” from you. “Yes sir. You can test drive the car for the weekend.” “Absolutely ma’am. Take the dog home to meet your kids!” But what if you sell something that can’t be picked up and held?

Try before you buy with free samples

For those of us selling a professional service, it can feel difficult to provide a prospect with the chance to test-drive what we offer. But there is a way to use this close effectively, no matter what you sell.

The reason “try before you buy” works so well with physical objects is that you get to feel what it’s like to use something. How does it feel to use this product? How does it make you feel when you try it on/drive it around/show it to your friends?

When you encounter hesitation in a prospect and you’re looking for ways to close the deal, don’t discount the idea of “try before you buy” just because what you sell isn’t a physical object. There are four ways you can execute this closing technique when what you deal with is intangible. They all focus on helping the client visualize what their life would be like if they chose to work with you. You need to let the client know what it feels like to do business with you.

1. Testimonials

Whether this comes in the form of a LinkedIn recommendation, a Google review, or a video of one of your clients, testimonials can be very powerful motivators. Having them detail their story as a client of yours will clearly communicate the benefits of partnering with you.

When you ask for a testimonial from a client, be as specific as possible about what you want them to share. For example, these are some of the questions I ask:

  • What were you looking for when you found us?
  • Would you recommend our services?
  • What are the benefits of working with me?

If you’re going to share a testimonial with a future prospect, don’t be shy to be goal specific when you ask them to give a testimonial. If there were goals you helped them achieve, ask for the impact it had on their business. You’re likely sharing these details with a prospect already, but when it comes from an objective third party, it can be the push they need to make the jump.

2. Client Connections

Every now and again, I have a prospect that wants to take the testimonial one step further and talk directly with one of my clients. I have a list of clients that I’m willing to introduce to my prospects, but I don’t have all my clients on that list. For example, if I have a client that I know doesn’t return phone calls quickly, I may cross them off my list. I select clients that will share a specific story or situation that is very similar to my prospects. This allows the prospect to imagine what it would be like—what it will feel like—to work with me and my company. They can ask questions and dig into the tangible and intangible aspects of working with me.

Don’t eliminate past clients for your list, either. Even when someone no longer uses your services, they may still be a raving fan and share a great story.

3. Social Media

If you have stories on social media that provide a window into the life of your company, share it! The more your prospect understands what you do, the more engaged they will feel with your team. Feature behind-the-scenes peeks at all the great things you do for your current clients, and (with your client’s permission) share their wins, too.

Using your social media channels in this way will not only help prospects get a feel for your brand, but it will also allow them to dream of what it would be like to be a part of it all. It will help them visualize their success and encourage them to imagine where they could be in a year or two after partnering with you.

4. Just a Little Taste

Finally, with some clients, they may not be willing to take others’ word for it—they may require some kind of small sample. Get creative! Can you give them a planning session or invest some time with them so they can see what interacting with you looks like? If your set costs or your business model doesn’t allow for you to give away a free sample, how can you offer a smaller, less expensive workshop, assessment, or coaching session to give them the hands-on approach? Even if it’s not free, this can let some prospects “try it” before making a bigger, long-term commitment. Here’s a Bonus: you will get to try them out as a client, too.

Embrace the Challenge

These are just a few ideas. However you do it, it’s important to realize that some people just need reassurance or proof before they feel comfortable making a big decision. They need to feel something. Don’t be discouraged by this—embrace it and let them get a glimpse of what it would be like if they work with you. Let them “try” you on for size, and—more often than not—they’ll find the proof they need to say yes.

Until next time—go sell some stuff!


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