teavanaTeavana knows a thing or two about driving sales. Founded in 1997, Teavana saw rapid expansion, growing to 300 stores before being acquired by Starbucks for $620 million in cash in 2012. You may think a mall-based retail company can’t teach B2B companies much, but bear with me for a minute.

One of the ways Teavana grew the tea culture in the U.S. was by giving away samples. We see samples all the time at the grocery store, so what makes this special? Well, it’s the way Teavana does their samples.

Teavana does three unique things compared to other stores in malls and other sample stands I’ve seen.

First, their sample stand is nearly in the walkway. For potential customers, it’s not a big time inconvenience to give it a try, because you don’t have to walk into the store. Most of the time they’re staffed by a barista too, so you don’t even need to pour your own cup.

Second, while you’re sipping away, the Teavana employee is telling you all about what makes the tea special and, just as you’re ending, that they have some other samples in the store you might like. “Ok, just one sample” I always tell myself.

The third piece is where it gets really interesting. If you accept the offer for a few more samples, expect to literally be taken on a tour of the store. While you’re sampling away at each station, the barista will tell you why you should get a Japanese kettle that costs more than $100 or why you should get these certain kinds of double-walled glass tea cups. That’s right, like any store they’re upselling, but it has almost a personal shopper type of feel. While I didn’t buy the $100 kettle on my last visit, I did end up buying about $30 worth of tea and supplies, which is $30 more than I was planning to spend when I had my first sample.

What’s your sample stand?