The Power of Sampling in Direct Selling


Providing a product sample cuts through the marketing noise and can sway a prospect towards making a favorable purchasing decision.

The customer gets to try the product themselves, and this direct experience provides a more rational way for them to evaluate and understand your product.

I can completely understand the hesitation that many direct selling and affiliate companies have with rolling out a sampling program. The thought of handing out your product for free can feel a little counter-intuitive. The samples cost you or your distributors money, not the customer.

Don’t be discouraged by this, sampling programs can in fact be costly, but if done right, they can boost sales dramatically. 

In Direct Selling, free samples help:

  • Motivate distributors to sell with easy to repeat sales tactic.
  • Introduce your product and opportunity to whole new audiences.
  • Inspire loyalty with existing distributors and preferred customers.
  • your buyer’s understanding of new products.
  • Earn attention for your brand.
  • Getting helpful feedback on products from real customers.
  • Building excitement and demand for a product launch.
  • A sampling program allows you to reach more people faster. It’s easier to give away 10 samples than to do 10 business presentations.
  • Most people who try a sample decide to purchase the product vs people who haven’t tried the product and ask them to buy the full product.
  • Less threatening for distributors to offer the samples to new people and introduce the company. 
  • Sampling products win new customers. When a company exposes confidence when giving a sample it’s easier to win customers.
  • Sampling products it’s a duplicatable activity that can be implemented by everybody within the company, from seasoned distributors to a novice distributor. 
  • Your distributors already do samples but they can’t scale with the current set up. Financially doesn’t make sense to them. 
  • It can become a Profit Center for your company. Most distributors will purchase not one sample, but by the dozen. 

The problem in the past with sampling programs, has been their lack of integration into a CRM software that can guide the appropriate follow up, at the appropriate time. This follow up, or closing of the sales loop is what will give your program oversized results.

Program fundamentals for Sampling in Direct Selling

  • A simple, end-to-end shopping, fulfillment and CRM follow up platform. It’s best to build your sample program with tight integration between these components so nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Ability to manufacture and pay for individual serving sizes for your product. Sampling can provide amazing outcomes for your business and your revenues. But they require an initial investment: you need to pony up the product samples.
  • A frictionless shopping/marketing page that a distributor can use over and over again. 
  • Finally, and maybe most importantly, motivate your distributors to follow up with the customers when the samples arrive, and after they’ve used the product for feedback purposes. Follow up is often the most overlooked part of a failed lead generation strategy.

You Need a Plan

You need a plan for the product samples your company wants to offer.

Consider these points before loading up your program.

  • First, do you have a “sample-able” product, meaning, you can affordably packing into individual servings or uses, and hopefully, get a positive feeling from one use. 
  • What is the goal of giving free product samples? Understanding this will help inform strategic decisions around what to offer, when, and for how long. Whatever your product, you need to develop a clear idea of why sampling is a necessary part of your marketing or sales plan. Before you plot your sampling strategy, return to your mission and the company’s core values to remind yourself why your product is worth trying.
  • Who is it that you want to sample your products? Find your target audience. This helps you know what to do to make sure your samples gets to the right customers. You want to make sure you’re getting your products to the right people — you know, the people who actually care about what you’re selling.
  • How will you measure the success of the program? It’s important to track all campaigns and whether or not they drove the desired Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). 

Conclusion for Sampling in Direct Selling

Sampling has always been a big part of our culture. Sampling for direct selling companies requires you to think outside the box, both literally and figuratively.

What you package your sample in matters for consumer appeal. Sampling helps customers learn more about your company, and makes your distributors’ sales processes more effective.

Samples also have a significant impact on us on a subconscious level as well with feelings of appreciation, rapport and reciprocity.

Sampling can be tricky, it can be complicated, and it can be taxing on your people. But, if in the end, your customer base grows, the effort will be well worth it. It’s such an important part of the marketing mix. 

With the technology and manufacturing advancements made in the last ten years, sampling is now a marketing strategy that almost any type of business can benefit from, not just the big guys.