The Test Drive Close – How to Use a Picture Words to Close More Sales by Phone

Selling over the telephone is like selling blind.  You cannot see the individual or the environment and they cannot see you.  It’s a major challenge and one of the reasons why telephone selling is so tough.

But it doesn’t have to be so debilitating. You can compensate for this rather barren selling environment by adding colorful imagery to your words and thoughts at certain key times in your discussion.  In effect, you want to paint vivid pictures in the clients mind in order help them understand your product or service and make it easier to buy.

One of the best ways to do that is to use a metaphor or an analogy. Metaphors and analogies are simply ways to conjure up images that makes your thoughts or suggestions easier to comprehend and understand.

The Test Drive Close

The trick to making them work for you is to have words and phrases prepared ahead of time for various parts of your selling conversation.  For instance, suppose your company provides a sample of a product.  It might be the use of a software package for a month or maybe short term subscription to a newsletter; anything that the client can try in order to get a feel for the value of the item.

Despite the fact that the item might be ‘free’ or of minimal charge, you will still find clients have to be enticed further because they may be uncertain, skeptical or even jaded. And since they can’t see you either, it is important to be as persuasive as possible. A way to position the offer is to call it a “test drive.”  For example,

“_____, to get you started I would like to recommend a “test drive.” In other words, I would like to recommend that you give the program a ‘spin’ around the block with three or four patients so you can get a feel how we work, how your patients respond and how the program benefits your practice. You can assess our effectiveness, see how things operate, compile any questions and evaluate it from bumper to bumper. If you like the drive – and I am certain it will- we can expand it as necessary. If it does not work well for you, well, you’ve risked nothing and we can retrieve the units.”

At a conscious or subconscious level, the test drive generates a harmless, ‘no-big-deal’ image of test driving a car before buying it. It is something everyone can immediately relate to and understand. We all know that test drives does not mean you have to buy the vehicle. We all know that it is meant to give you a feel for car, how it drives, handles, accelerates, even how it smells.  If you like the drive, you can proceed further down the sales path. If not, you park it on the lot and move on. There are no strings attached.

The metaphor simplifies your offer by relating it to an every day event. Everyone understands the test drive implication. At some level, this reduces the sense of risk and makes the decision to try the offer easier and more palatable. That’s the power of metaphors, analogies and colorful words or phrases.

What to Do Next

  • Think about your products or services. Is there anything to which you can compare them? Test the imagery. See how your clients respond.  Try other comparisons and see how they do.
  • Think of your product features and come up with images that make understanding them easier and more relevant ((“it’s no bigger than box of chocolates” or “This amount of memory is like have 10 million blank pages in a book”).
  • Think of the options you might offer. Can you draw a picture to help people differentiate those options ? (“In effect, our product is like taco sauce: it comes in hot, medium and mild”)
  • Use a metaphor to prompt the client and direct their thoughts. (“Doc, you know the type of patient I am looking for: the weekend warrior, the soccer mom, the walking wounded from a car accident”)
  • And the list goes on.


Using metaphors, analogies and colorful words or phrases is not a new concept.  But often they are used spontaneously rather than deliberately.  Words are powerful selling tools and many of them should be pre-planned and used with deliberation in order to maximize their effect.  In the blind world of telephone sales, this is doubly important. Give metaphors and analogies a test drive and see what you think.

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