Friday, November 17, 2017 | Today's Vending Industry News
Build Same-Site Sales With Free Trial Promotions

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 6/6/2014

  • Printer Friendly Version
  • Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
  • PDF

TAGS: Vending Times columnist, OCS salespeople, office coffee service, office coffee sales, OCS education, OCS customer service, coffee business, office refreshments, OCS sales training, Len Rashkin, allied product sales, OCS allied products, Len Rashkin Part 3, icemakers, ice maker

This is the final segment of a three-part series on promoting allied products, and your services, to expand profitability. It's a good idea to review my March and April columns if you have not already read them in order to get a full understanding of how to promote and incentivize your sales team to increase purchases by your existing customer base.

Building Allied-Product Sales To Existing Clients Boosts Profit [March]

Train Sales Staff In 'Bridging' To Boost Allied Product Orders [April]

Besides promoting and selling additional allied products, it is also important to call your customers' attention to the variety of equipment you offer, including single-cup brewers, refrigerators, microwave ovens, water coolers and icemakers.

Here is an easy promotion that your representatives can conduct to persuade your customers to experience one of those pieces of equipment: offer a free trial for X number of days, along with an ample supply of free goods to start. To encourage people to make this offer with enthusiasm and persistence, you could pay commissions on a two-stage basis. The first incentive would be paid for getting the customer to accept the "free trial," and the second would be awarded when the client agrees to keep using the equipment and signs the contract. This incentive works well, because the bonus structure is much more lucrative than selling allied products. Let's see how it works.

"Good morning Jamie, this is Carrie, thanks for calling Coffee & More today, how can I assist you?" After the order is received and Carrie has suggested additional products being promoted, she continues: "Jamie, we are having a wonderful promotion with our new single-cup brewing system. We are offering you and your company a one-week free trial, along with a wide supply of different coffees, teas, hot chocolate and cappuccino. Everyone in your company will now have a choice of what to drink, with no clean-up mess and no coffee being dumped out. What hot beverage do you like the most? I will include some extra servings, so you can have what you like. I can have our representative show you how to use the unit on Tuesday morning, and there is no obligation or cost. Would Tuesday be a good day to start your free trial period?"

I suggest that you give $10 to your route sales driver or telephone representative for getting the single-cup brewer placed. This is a strong incentive for them to push hard to promote the trials. When the client makes the decision to keep the brewer and places the first order, a second commission of $15 is awarded.

You may say to yourself, why promote a single-cup brewer if my customer is already happy with my batch brewing system? Simple: if you do not offer most of your customers the opportunity to enjoy a single-cup system, you make yourself vulnerable to your competition to come in and place the brewer instead. The last statement you ever want to hear from a current customer is, "Pick up your equipment, we just switched to another company who gave us a single-cup brewing system." It doesn't help at all to respond, "but we have those also!" Your ex-customer simply says, "Oh, I didn't know that."

Promoting Water Sales

Next, we will promote your water cooler systems by offering three- to five-gallon bottles of filtered or spring water. It is essential that your telephone reps and sales route drivers understand how these bottles and waters are handled at the bottling plants, so that if asked a question, they will have the basic knowledge to answer it. The two key selling points are that the water is safe (healthy) from contaminants and delicious to drink. Great-tasting water will make their coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soups, etc., delicious to drink as well.

Again, when your team members either speak to a buyer on the phone or in person, they will offer a one-month free trial of a hot and cold water unit, along with the water bottles. The number of bottles will depend on the number of employees using the unit. Your salespeople will also offer an assortment of free hot and cold beverages to be used with the water unit. Included in the package should be different teas, hot chocolate, soups, apple cider and instant cereal packs. On the cold side, include packs of soluble lemonade and a selection of Crystal Light products.

The commissions paid on the free trial, again, should be $10 when the system is installed for the trial, and an additional $15 when the customer signs the contract.

Promoting refrigerators, microwave ovens and icemakers is done in much the same way. Offer the free trial, along with an assortment of appropriate free goods to go with the particular appliance. You could include a case of popcorn with each microwave, a case or two of mixed soda to go with the refrigerator and an assortment of cold cups to go with the icemaker. Commissions could be similar to the plans described earlier.

Remember that once you get a new piece of equipment to your customer, it is time to sell them on all of your related products that are associated with that unit. Refrigerators, for example, can be the focal point for selling packaged soft drinks, bottles of water, portion-packs of cream and milk, paper plates, utensils, foil wrap, condiments, and much more.

Training your staff is paramount for any successful program to be effective. Before launching your promotions, have your staff role-play with you or with one another to polish their presentations.

Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions on promoting your allied products and services. I can be reached by calling (516) 241-4883 or email me

LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association.