7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #3: Trial Closes)

Highly effective and successful tele-sales reps routinely use trial closes in their selling conversations. Do you?

A trial close is a ‘test balloon’ that you float up during a sales call to gauge client interest, to ensure that you are on track and to determine if you can move to the final close.  On the telephone, a trial close is particularly critical because you do not have the visual clues  that you would normally get face to face.  The very best tele-sales reps fabricate those clues by using trial closes.

Passive Trial Closes

There are two kind of trial closes: passive and assertive. Both are valuable and service different purposes. A passive trial close is more ‘gauge-like’ and seeks to determine if the client is following your point. Passive trial closes are deliberate sign posts that you toss out to ensure you are going in the right direction.

For example, suppose you provide a feature and benefit about your product or service. At the conclusion, you might say, “Does that make sense?” or “Do you see how that might work for you?”

Questions like these assess client’s interest and comprehension. The moment after you ask, stop talking and listen closely. Listen not only to what the client says but the tone in which it is delivered. If the client sounds doubtful or uncertain, you need to stop, go back and clarify. For instance,

“Hey Jim, I hear a bit of doubt or uncertainty in your voice.  Is there something I can clear up?”

The trick to being more effective in closing in telesales is to liberally sprinkle these test closes throughout your conversation.

Assertive Trial Closes

The second trial close is the assertive close.  As the name implies the assertive close is much more directive and sales focused.  It seeks to determine if the interest to BUY is strong  or potentially strong. This type of trial close often uses a hypothetical question:

“Wendi, suppose we could provide 3-day delivery on this item , would this be something you’d consider purchasing?’

“Mark, putting price and budget aside for a moment, does the solution I am presenting sound like something you could work with?”

“Chris, let me ask you a hypothetical: if we could stock those items on a regular basis would you  move your business over to us?”

Note that these questions have a  “if/then” kind of approach.  They get the client to project or to imagine a certain scenario.  If that scenario is positive and the client agrees to it, the chances of closing the sale are much more significant.


Assertive trial closes can make some clients feel uncomfortable. Some can see the question as “cheesy”, “salesy”, “manipulative” or “pushy.”  (These are actual client remarks) The client can feel as those they are being painted into a corner and this can lead to strong resistance or resentment.

Mitigating the Risk – Softening Phrases

Despite the risk, assertive trial closes are extremely valuable because they gauge INTENT. The trick is to ask the question without being quite so blunt. And it’s easy to do. Here’s how:

“Chantal, I don’t mean to put the cart before the horse, but suppose for a moment that we could…”

“Yvon, I’m not sure where you are in the decision making process, but let me ask you a hypothetical question…”

“Maria, not to put you on the spot and not to be presumptuous, but I’m curious, if I was to …”

Notice how these trial closes are softened with the addition of a few words and phrases.  They acknowledge that the remark might be a bit bold.


Here’s the bottom line, highly effective closers keep track of client interest and concern throughout the entire sales conversation by asking questions that ‘test the waters.’  Depending on how the client responds, the good closer knows when to accelerate to the final close or when to slow down or even reverse.  Trial closes are vital. Use them and watch your sales grow.

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