What Is the Puppy Dog Close?

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Flori Needle
Flori Needle


The closing stage of a sales process is the final moment that determines whether you’ve successfully sold your product and converted a prospect into a paying customer.

salesperson talking to a customer and using the puppy dog close technique

There are various ways to encourage closings, like simply asking a prospect if they’re going to buy or using the now-or-never approach to offer a discount if they agree to close within the day. Regardless of the technique, your chosen method is the tipping point in a buyer’s journey.

However, what do you do if you’ve used your usual strategies and your prospects are still showing signs of uncertainty? When it comes to your customers’ needs, you’ll want to address their fears head-on — enter, the puppy dog close. Here, we’ll discuss what the puppy dog close is and how you can successfully implement the technique to close more deals.

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As the name suggests, the strategy stems from how pet stores sell puppies. Consider the following scenario: a family visits a pet store, and a child falls in love with a puppy. They want to bring it home, but the parents aren’t sure. The owner says, “Why don’t you take it home for the weekend and see what happens?” The family takes the dog home, inevitably falls in love with their new pet, and agrees to go through with the sale.

This closing method works for two reasons: clients can make a decision in a low-pressure environment, and have an authentic experience with the product that shows them how it will benefit their day-to-day processes. These try-it-before-you-buy-it scenarios are also free, so customers don’t have to worry about spending money and then requesting a refund.

Below, we’ll go over essential considerations for using the puppy dog close technique.

How To Nail a Puppy Dog Close

While most of the onus is on the client, there are considerations to keep in mind when using this method to ensure your clients have everything they need to come to a decision.

Decide how they’ll demo the product.

Before offering the trial, you need to decide how your customers will test your products. Warby Parker, a glasses company, sends customers sample frames sans their prescriptions. They can pick out their favorite frames, try them on for a week, and send the samples back in return for a working pair. Shipping and returns are both free, so it is truly a free trial.

Depending on what you’re selling, maybe you’ll create a demo product like Warby Parker, offer free trials of SaaS software, or send customers an actual product. Aim to come up with a solution that lets customers use a product that is as similar as possible to what they may end up buying.

Establish a trial time frame.

While it only takes a day or two to decide if you want a puppy, not all products and services can be assessed that quickly. Consider what you sell and the amount of time it will take for a customer to get a feel for the product, recognize its value, and realize they need it.

For example, some car dealerships offer vehicle test drives. Some can last an hour, while other businesses let consumers take cars home overnight. Regardless of the time frame, the driver can get a feel for the product and assess if it will meet their needs.

Ensure that you’re giving customers the time they need to make their decision, as the last thing you want is more uncertainty after the trial is over.

Be transparent about the process.

A possible risk to the puppy dog close is that customers may think it’s too good to be true, that you’ll hit them with hidden fees after the trial period is over.

It’s essential to be transparent in this scenario and explain that the process is entirely for the customer. Your business gets nothing if the customer decides not to buy, and they should understand this. Maybe you’ll create a contract that outlines the agreement’s terms and clearly states that it is a no-strings-attached deal with no hidden charges if they back out.  

Let Your Customers Understand Value on Their Own

All-in-all, pet store owners came up with the puppy dog close strategy because they knew that customers would never return a dog after establishing an emotional connection.

Regardless of what you’re selling, the logic stays the same — a customer that needs to solve their pain points will try out your product, experience its benefits, and realize they can’t live without it. 

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Topics: Sales Closing

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