The Trial Close

If you ask the customer to make a decision, then you’re talking about a specific proposal or sales quote. It’s a make or break situation. If the customer is not ready to make a decision yet, you run the risk of ruining the relationship and the deal.

That’s why we first do a trial close. With the trial close you’re actually asking the prospect for an opinion, not a buying decision. A crucial difference! You’re trying to get to know what the customer is thinking. You do this by asking his opinion on a concept, vision, philosophy or method. Don’t talk specific details, instead ask him how he thinks or feels about what you’ve said or shown before during the presentation or demonstration.

If the customer is positive about your demonstration and carefully built argumentation, then you’ve created the right atmosphere to go for the kill. Most times, however, a couple of objections will surface that need to be dealt with first.

If you look at it this way, a trial close is a great way to move forward in the sales meeting and get the objection handling started.

Here are some questions you can use for the trial close:

  • What do you think about this?
  • How do you feel about these developments?
  • What would you say is your position in all of this?
  • What could this mean for you / your business?
  • To what extent does this strategy correspond to your expectations?
  • I can see you smiling, what are you thinking?
  • Which option do you prefer?

In fact there are tons of questions you could throw in the mix here. By the way, did you notice these are all open questions?

Your turn now

Do you use trial closes in your current sales approach?
What’s the typical customer reaction to this?
Could you give an example of your favorite ones?


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  2. Sales From A Customer’s Perspective
  3. Seven Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Ask For The Deal

3 Responses to “The Trial Close”

  • Anita McAllister on September 1, 2011

    Great article and LOVE the accompanying picture – It’s perfect for the subject!!

    My favorite trial close is to ‘take their temperature’. “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being…get out of my house! or 10 being Let’s Get Started!, where would you say you are?”

  • Dominique on September 7, 2011

    Solid article Wim, I ask for opinion all the time. It allows me to callibrate and make sure we’re on the same page.

  • Hector Avellaneda on September 10, 2011

    Great post. I have a few questions however, maybe you can help me get more understanding on this concept of trail closing.

    Can you give me an example of where you would use this kind of closing technique versus where not to use it?

    What is the objective of the trail close?

    What can you do with the information you obtain from a trail close?

    In the post above you mentioned “If the customer is positive about your demonstration and carefully built argumentation, then you’ve created the right atmosphere to go fo helping r the kill.” – If this is the case, would you try to close your customer right away or would you look to close at a different time?

    Thanks for get a better understanding in advance!

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