One of the questions that often comes up is ‘Should I be using taster sessions to introduce myself to potential new clients?’
As with most things in life, there are pros and cons.
What is a taster session and why might you offer them?
A taster session is an offer of a free or reduced rate session to a business where you basically give a little taster of what you can do. This could be a half-day or one-day workshop, a coaching session, a personality profiling session or whatever is appropriate for your training business. Taster sessions can be useful for introducing yourself. They also help you get your foot in the door, showcase what you do and gather feedback and testimonials.
Many freelance trainers and training companies I know use this model very successfully as a way of attracting new business. In fact, you can see from the comments when I first published this article that almost everyone who responded was overwhelmingly positive about using taster sessions!
One-to-one sessions can be an effective way to get to know your potential learners so that you can put together a comprehensive package tailored entirely to their needs. This can help you to add value for bespoke training, especially if you want to charge premium rates. It’s also a great ‘chemistry’ test for everyone to see what it will feel like to work together.
As an alternative to taster sessions targeted at just one business, some trainers offer them to a group of potential clients, using the sessions as a marketing tool to show what their training style is like. A benefit of this approach is that you can reach multiple clients at the same time and make the opportunity for people to share their thoughts, knowledge and experiences with their peers part of the value proposition for the taster session.
The downsides of offering taster sessions
The downsides of taster sessions are, of course, that they can become time-consuming and a drain on your business if they don’t convert attendees into paying clients. It may be better to focus your efforts on other marketing approaches.
There is also a school of thought that says you shouldn’t go down the route of offering anything for free as it devalues what you do and sets up an expectation in the mind of the potential customer that they don’t have to pay.
This is something to consider carefully before you proceed. Of course, you could trial offering tasters, knowing that you’ll stop if they fail to convert to paying contracts.
It is possible to create taster sessions that convert
If you decide to use Taster Sessions, here are some things to bear in mind:
1. Make sure that you only offer them to your target market and not just anyone who has a passing interest.
2. Think carefully about what hot topics and issues your target market needs answers to. Remember, people don’t buy training, they buy solutions to problems.
3. Make sure you don’t give away too much for free in a taster session. Yes, you do want to give a fair impression of your skills as a trainer but you need to leave your audience wanting more.
4. Instil some sort of commitment into the process. For example, ask interested parties to complete an application form, pre-course work or insist on a minimum number of delegates. This increases the perceived value in the eyes of the client and helps you sort out the wheat from the chaff.
5. People won’t want the taster session to be a thinly disguised sales pitch. You need to aim to create enough buzz and interest in the taster that clients are keen to sign up for paid training.
6. Have a follow-up system in place to convert the potential client into paying business.
When taster sessions work
In my experience, taster sessions are most suitable for three key scenarios:
- When you offer high-cost courses – the taster gives clients the chance to ‘try before they buy’ and commit to a large spend
- When you offer a training programme that runs over a long time period with multiple sessions – again, this is a chance for clients to fully understand what they’re signing up to before making a long-term commitment
- For courses that are in-depth – you could give the taster session to give clients a better understanding of what the programme covers and what the benefits will be for their business
If you’re not sure that taster sessions are a good fit for your training business, there are alternatives that can serve the same purpose of introducing you to potential clients.
How about offering a free, low cost or exclusive webinar on a topic central to what you train? Webinars have long been popular and are even more familiar to people since COVID-19 since shifted so many of us online. There are many benefits to offering webinars as a way to promote your training business. You can pre-record a webinar and broadcast it multiple times or run a live webinar with minimal costs or time commitment. The ease of access means that more people are usually willing to take part.
You can even promote and run a live webinar but record it to sell at a later date or add to your training course materials. Alternatively, you could blog about the webinar or turn the audion into a podcast. It’s a fantastic way to repurpose your content and get as much mileage out of it as possible.
Another option is to offer a free ‘Chemistry Call’ on Zoom where clients can talk to you for 15 or 30 minutes to learn more about your training style and content.
I’d be interested in your experiences, tips and views on using taster sessions so please leave a comment below. (This blog was first written in 2011 and has been updated in March 2021).
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