The Puppy Dog Close

Puppy DogEarlier this year, I was reading a book called “The 4-hour Workweek” (by Timothy Ferriss), and I came across an interesting sales technique called “The Puppy Dog Close”.

Basically, this sales technique is used if someone wants to buy something, but they are hesitant.  An example of this would be when the salesperson at a pet store offers to let the customer take a puppy home with them, and just bring it back if they don’t want it.  Of course, in most cases the customer will want to keep the puppy!

The characteristics of this technique appear to be that the deal is a reversible trial (the customer can always bring the puppy back), and the product should be something that can easily sell itself.


Timothy Ferriss speaks of this example in terms of convincing your boss to agree to let you skip meetings at work, by demonstrating that you can complete more work as a result.  In this situation, he is adapting the puppy dog close technique slightly.  What he is suggesting is that you can convince people to accept a situation by offering them a one-time “let’s just try this once” type deal.  And of course, by offering some sort of of benefit that would result from the situation, and would be hard to refuse.

I’m sure there are many more situations where this technique is being used.  For example, free trial gym memberships, sample foods at the grocery store, new car test drives at the dealership, free makeovers at the cosmetics counter, etc.  In all of these examples, it is products that are being offered to a customer.  However, instead of products, you could be offering an idea that you want someone to accept, or a lifestyle change, or any other type of situation.

The trick is, that once the customer tries out the product (or idea, or activity etc.), that they become hooked and as a result, they buy into that product or situation.  A little bit manipulative sounding?  But then again, it’s probably a good way to get people to try out new things that they would otherwise be too trepid to try.  What are your thoughts on this technique?


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