What is a ‘Trial Close’ Anyway?

If you are anything like me, you have asked yourself “what the heck is a trial close?” My manager’s or even trainers would tell me, “and then you hit them with a trail close.” At this point I would in turn ask them what a trial close was and I would proceed to get a rambling and run around answer that I didn’t understand, eventually just telling my manager I would do it. However, I did not actually change anything in my sales process because I did not understand what they were asking me to do.

Until one day, I was talking with a fellow salesperson and the subject of “trial closes” came up and I admitted to them that I really didn’t know or understand what a trail close was. I actually thought that it was when you asked a closing question prior to the close step or when you ask the customer for a commitment to buy. When I said this to them, they actually laughed a bit, and couldn’t believe that I had been selling as long as I have and didn’t know what a trial close was. They went on to explain this 8th wonder of the world to me. In one simple sentence they explained to me what no other manager or trainer could:

“A trial close asks the customer for an opinion where a direct close asks the customer to make a decision.”

Instantly the trail close made sense. Customers are much more likely to give you their opinion about something, even when you might not want it. However, customers, and people in generally are much more cautious about making a decision.

Once I understood what a trail close actually was, I was immediately hooked. These things are great at ensuring that I am moving the sale in the right direction and that it is going to close when I ask for the sale.

Let me explain. I began to think of trail closes as deposits in a piggy bank and when I got enough yeses, deposits in that piggy bank, I could cash it in and earn a sale (commission). So, I began asking these opinion-based trail closes at every step of the sale and starting making deposits early and often into my “Make a Sale Piggy Bank.”

Here is an example:

A lot of people can get stuck transitioning to the Investment Proposal from the Demonstration Drive. This happens because the customer is nervous about ‘going inside and looking at numbers’ because they know that they are going to be asked to make a decision. And it also happens because the Salesperson is nervous because they are going to have to ask the customer for a decision and they are afraid the customer is going to say ‘no.’

So now let’s ask a trial close during the Demonstration that will help with this transition:

“Now that you have had the opportunity to drive the Model X. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?”

This is a powerful question to ask the customer’s opinion about the car. The customer only has a limited number of responses:

1 – 6: A score of one through six probably means the customer has significant issue with the vehicle and probably will not buy it. You will want to use a follow-up question like the one below to determine what is not right about this vehicle so that you can find the customer a vehicle they will drive.

“That is not a very good rating. Please tell me why you feel this way, so we can help you determine a better vehicle for you.”

7 – 9: A score of a seven, eight or nine typically means the customer has some slight or small concern about the vehicle, however this most likely will not stop them from purchasing the vehicle. That’s right, the vehicle does not need to be a perfect ten in order for the customer to purchase. They just are not going to purchase at a lower score like a four, five, or six. After a customer gives you a score of a seven, eight, or nine you will want to follow-up with a question like the one below to provide you with additional information to close the deal.

“That’s’ a great score, but a little short of a ten. In your opinion what would make it a ten?”

Asking this question will give you information that can help you get the customer more excited about the vehicle and help you close the sale if it is something that you can easily resolve. Don’t worry if it is something that is unrealistic, because if it is the customer will know that too and will now expect you to resolve it in order to complete the sale. Remember, a sale does not require the vehicle to be a ten.

10: A score of a ten, pretty much equates to a sale. It means that you listened to your customer wants & needs, likes & dislikes, must-haves & can’t stands, and selected the perfect vehicle for them. Then you selected, presented and demonstrated the perfect vehicle for them. You Earned the Sale!

In this example, knowing that the customer believes the vehicle is a one through six is going to tell you that you need to pump the breaks, do not continue forward with the Investment Proposal, go back to the Customer Profile, determine what went wrong and select a new and better vehicle for the customer. On the flip side, if the customer tells you that the vehicle is a seven through ten, it will give both you and the customer the confidence that this is the right vehicle for them and the next logical step will be to continue forward with the sale to the Investment Proposal.

Joe Caruso

Joe Caruso

Joe may not have been born to sell cars, however when other kids were talking about being a firefighter or an astronaut, all he talked about was being a car salesperson. His commitment was so strong that he managed to sell his first car when he was nine years old. Fast forward to the age of seventeen and his full time career as an automotive sales professional began. Over the next 30 years he went on to hold every position in a sales department, including spending the last twelve as a General Manager, building some of the most successful teams in the area. In 2017, he left the retail side of the industry and founded DO IT TODAY Learning Network in an effort to share his knowledge with the entire automotive sales world.



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