Sell More By Giving Things Away

By Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic™ 

As we all know, the most powerful four-letter word in sales and marketing is “free.” Everybody loves getting something for nothing. And giving things away can be an extremely powerful selling tactic. Two stories that were recently shared by participants at a couple of my sales seminars illustrate how to capitalize on this principle.
The first example was related by an attendee who drove to the seminar with two of his colleagues. On their way to the seminar that morning, they found themselves, at one point, stuck in traffic next to a Snapple delivery truck. They jokingly called out to the driver, who was unloading the truck to make a delivery, “Hey, how about some free cases of Snapple?”
“Sorry,” the driver responded, “I can’t do that.” “But,” he continued, “I can give you three bottles.” He quickly handed three bottles of Snapple to the stunned occupants of the car, smiled, and walked inside the building to finish his delivery.
The result? As the attendee told the rest of the audience, “I’m going to buy a lot more Snapple from now on!” Three bottles of Snapple cost the distributor about a dollar. For a miniscule investment, that driver created three customers for life, not to mention the positive word-of-mouth they’ve been generating. That’s selling.
The second story was reported by the friend of a pet shop owner. She said that he put up a huge sign reading “Free Puppies.” Naturally, when people pick out their “free” puppy, they have to purchase puppy food, a puppy bed, food and water dishes, treats, toys, leashes and more.

Customers typically spend more than a hundred dollars to outfit their new pet, not to mention how much they spend on return visits. He may be giving away puppies, but he’s selling the accessories like crazy. It’s akin to companies giving away razors and making their money selling the blades.
However, the story goes further: The pet store owner also has relationships with a veterinarian, a fencing contractor, an obedience school, and a cleaning service. In an example of cooperative selling, each refers the other and helps up-sell the customer: the vet recommends premium dog food, the obedience school recommends more frequent house cleanings during shedding season. And it all starts by giving away a puppy.

What can you give away to prospects and customers to help you increase your sales? Almost anything and everything, really. Here are 35 ideas to start you thinking:

1. Samples
2. Accessories
3. Last year’s edition
4. Gift certificates
5. Children’s toys
6. T-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts
7. Hats
8. Books
9. Magazines
10. Photographs
11. Software
12. Music: live or recorded
13. Advertising specialties/promotional items
14. Food and beverages
15. Consultations
16. Referrals (If you help your prospects find new customers, they’ll buy everything they can from you.)
17. Community service
18. Bumper stickers
19. Window decals
20. Publicity
21. Information: white papers, special reports, articles, surveys, studies, newsletters, e-zines 
22. Textbook covers
23. Event tickets
24. Candy
25. Pre-paid calling cards
26. Lottery tickets
27. Key tags
28. Stuffed animals (especially if your organization uses a mascot)
29. Temporary tattoos
30. Buttons and pins
31. Magnets
32. Calendars
33. Maps
34. Watches or clocks

How, when and where can you use free items? Lots of ways, lots of times and lots of places. Here are 21 examples:

1. Trade shows
2. Open houses
3. Promotions
4. Cold calls
5. Post sales call follow-up
6. Direct mail campaigns
7. Coupon redemptions
8. Web site registration incentives
9. Customer appreciation programs
10. Seminars
11. Networking events
12. Networking event follow-up
13. Grand openings
14. Anniversary celebrations
15. Donations for charity auctions
16. Donations for contest prizes
17. Farmers markets
18. Fairs, festivals and other events
19. Sampling stations in supermarkets
20. School programs
21. Holiday Gifts

So figure out what you can give away and to whom. Next determine how, when and where you’re going to do it. Then put your plan into action. Make it a regular part of your selling strategy. And you’ll find the more you’re giving away, the more you’ll be selling!

© Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic™. 

Don Cooper—The Sales Heretic™—helps salespeople, business owners and professionals dramatically increase their sales. He conducts seminars, trains sales and customer service teams and speaks at annual meetings, conferences and conventions. Contact Don at 303-832-4248 or visit for more articles, tips and tactics.

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Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic™ 303-832-4248 E-mail Don