The Puppy Dog Close
The puppy dog close is one of the most effective ways to get the sale that anyone ever dreamed up. It got its name from the pet store industry. Let me explain. Have you ever walked by a pet store and saw adorable little puppies playing and frolicking in the front window? Have you ever just visited a pet store for any reason and just happened to go over to the puppy cages to look at the puppies? What happens? The sales clerk approaches and makes a comment like, “Aren’t these little puppies just adorable?”
And before you even have a chance to reply she asks, “Would you like to hold one of them?” Now if you are with your spouse or even worse, one of your kids, it becomes extremely difficult to say no. (Unless you are actually there to buy a dog, SAY NO!)
If that puppy gets out of the cage and into your arms, your resistance to buy is cut by 90%. It just isn’t easy to walk away and leave that poor puppy that just fell in love with you - HOMELESS.
You know that puppy loves you because it just couldn’t stop licking your face. That, my friend, is called the puppy dog close.
It is one of the most powerful ways to win more business, and it is based on the magic of “Try before you buy.” This close has been adopted by numerous industries. Have you ever gone into Sam’s Club, Costco or even your local grocery store and noticed how many free food samples are available? You could actually feed your family their entire lunch just by visiting the multiple food sample stations in Sam’s on the weekends.
These free samples are not offered simply to get you to taste their product. No, it’s related to the psychological pressure imposed by the “puppy dog close.” You see, once you accept that sample and comment on how good it is, it becomes very difficult to walk away without putting their product into your basket. Granted, everyone doesn’t succumb to that pressure but a high percentage of consumers do and that really boosts product sales.
Everyone needs a certain degree of coaxing before they commit to a buy decision. So this “try before you buy - puppy dog approach” is a form of helping the customer buy.
Let’s take a look at the automotive industry. New car dealerships on many occasions will allow you to take one of their vehicles home. The salesperson will say, “Try it out for a day or two. See how you like it.”
This too is just another form of the puppy dog close. It becomes very difficult to not buy from a dealer that is so proud of their product that they let you take it home to try it. And think of the trust they have displayed in you by letting you take one of their vehicles - worth thousands of dollars - home with you.
Many businesses are now finding ways to offer the prospective client the opportunity to use, test or see their product or service for free. Once you try the product you are generally asked how you liked it. Once you respond in a positive fashion, the next question is, “Tell me what you really like about it?”
Guess what, you are now selling yourself. Your comments often become their sales pitch. You as the customer end up selling yourself. Can you see the power in that?
Once the customer has sold himself or herself, the next words from the salesperson are, “Well, I guess the only question left is how many do you want or when do you want it delivered?” Then shut up and listen.
This is the “assumptive close” (assuming the customer is ready to buy) piggybacking the “puppy dog” close, pretty hard to resist. The pause or silence on your part is critical because you don’t want to interrupt the internal psychological sales process that is taking place in the customer’s head.
Does the puppy dog close work 100% of the time? Absolutely not. But it sure does increase your success ratio.
It’s a simple concept. It is nothing more than letting the customer experience the value proposition of the product itself. Of course, if your product has very little value propositioning or if it is truly a commodity, the puppy dog close just isn’t applicable. In those cases you have to rely on your personal value propositions and your company value propositions. If your product genuinely offers value, potential customers will see that value by utilizing the “puppy dog close.” Their internal psyche will convert that value into a sale.