The Puppy Dog Close

Ever heard of the puppy dog close? You and I fall for it all the time. So do your prospects.

Here’s how it works:

Imagine you’re at a pet store. You’re not sold on buying a pet yet. You’re just looking and carefully considering your options.

What if a dog is too much work?
Can you even afford to drop $600 on a puppy right now?
What if it poops on your white couch and barks all night?

Lots to consider.

But then the shop owner walks over, places the puppy you’ve been eyeing in your arms, and says:

“Why don’t you take Rover home for a trial run and see how it works out? You can bring it back in a couple of weeks if you change your mind.”

Now, I know that’s not how pet stores work these days, but the point behind the analogy is this: If they can get you to take the puppy home for a few days, chances are you’ll never bring it back.

We see the puppy technique everywhere, especially in late-night infomercials.

“Try the Home Gym 2000 for 30 days — no cost, no commitment! If you don’t love it, send it back!”

“Sleep on the Dream Foam mattress for a full month, on us! Return within 30 days for any reason and you’ll owe nothing!”

Astute marketers are counting on the likelihood that you’ll either love it or find it far too inconvenient to return the purchase and back out of the deal. And it works.

When I started freelancing, I tried my own version of the puppy dog close to score some of my first clients. (This is about as aggressive as I get with sales because I don’t do pushy.)

Occasionally, if I sensed my prospect wasn’t ready to proceed with a complex, high-dollar project, I’d say something like:

“How about we tackle a small project just to see how well we work together? Then if you like my work and enjoy the experience, we can move on to bigger things or a longer-term arrangement.”

And, by golly, it worked. The pressure was off and my prospect’s big, hairy decision became an easy one.

Before long, a simple blog post or feature article turned into a dozen more and a profitable, long-term client relationship.

(Bonus: At times, this also saved me a ton of frustration when I wasn’t sure I really wanted to work with certain clients. I was in fact putting them to the test.)

Give it a try. Your prospect might just take the puppy home.

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