freeBeing great or the best often isn’t enough. Having a wonderful product, outstanding back office support, and world-class people sometimes just

Having a wonderful product, outstanding back office support, and world-class people sometimes merely readies you for business — it doesn’t put you over the top or convert prospects to customers. What you need is a compelling offer.

Arguably, the most compelling of all offers is FREE. And the most complicated.

Making an offer to try before you buy is the most compelling offer a business can make. A trial, introductory period, no payments for 60 days, etc. are forms of a FREE offer. The less commitment the prospect makes, the stronger the offer. And the stronger the offer, the greater the rate of conversion.

Here are a few examples of how FREE is used to make a sale:

  • Consumer electronics companies are letting customers take big screen TVs home for a free 30-day trial. Returns are almost non-existent.
  • A mattress company is giving their bed away for 90 days before a payment is due. You can return the mattress at any time, at no cost. Not many people do.
  • A lawn service cut my grass and cleaned my yard for free for one month before we signed a contract for services. Every week they showed up on time, worked hard, and had the place looking and staying beautiful. I signed an agreement at the end of the free service.

Here are some tips on offering something for FREE:

  1. Don’t lead with the FREE offer, close with it. If you build the case for your product or service – benefits, difference, reason to believe – and close with an offer to try it for FREE, it demonstrates supreme confidence in everything you’ve presented. If you open and push the FREE offer, you run the risk of appearing desperate. Sad, but true.
  2. If you make a FREE offer and no one takes you up on it, you likely don’t have a compelling product or service. Yes, there are times when you can’t give it away. If you find your free offer is routinely rejected, you’re facing a situation where you’ve either failed to make the case for the product or service or your product and service has no market. Look at your benefit statements and supporting evidence first, you need to strengthen them.
  3. Free should mean FREE. Don’t offer a FREE sample and then insult everyone’s intelligence by asking for a refundable down payment. Take all the risk, not just some of it. Don’t offer a FREE sample and qualify it by adding restocking or return shipment fees.
  4. Make sure you’re not overselling. The key to reducing returns and having happy customers is being clear on the benefits, use, and limitations of your product or service. If you oversell, your customer will likely be disappointed with whatever you give them. Disappointment equals returns.
  5. Prospects that take your offer of a FREE sample are customers. Don’t deliver half a product or service when you offer a FREE sample, deliver the whole thing. Include full support.

There are five tips to making a FREE offer to close business. What would you add or change on my list? Why?