Mastering the Trial Close

Closing a sale, of course, means getting your customer to make an offer or sign a listing. It makes a lot of sense, however, to test the waters so to speak with a series of trial closes or test questions.

Closing questions v. trail close

Asking for the sale is also known as a closing question are direct, like these:
  • Shall we make an offer?
  • How much down would you expect to put down on this property?
  • What needs to happen so you’re comfortable making an offer?
With each of these you’re asking directly for the sale. Trail closes or questions are generally softer and much more open ended, like these:
  • What do you think of the homes we’ve looked at so far?
  • Do you think this backyard might be worth the longer commute?
  • How would you change the kitchen?
These questions help you take the temperature of the client’s interest. While once and awhile a single trial close can lead directly to a sale, that’ not the purpose. Instead you’re trying to understand how clients are feeling and what you need to do to fulfill their needs.

The why of a trial close

Done properly the trial close is not only a whole lot less risky than closing questions, they actually accomplishes a lot, including:
  • Letting you know exactly where you are in the sales process.
  • Helping you adjust so you’re meeting the clients exactly where they are.
  • Tells you where the problems are so you can solve them.
  • Are generally much easier to ask then true closing questions.
  • Can lead gracefully to a sale or the discovery that no sale is to be made right now.
Trial closes are anything but confrontive. You’re simply seeking information about what the client is thinking and how they feel about the properties you’re showing them.

How to ask the trial close question

The trial close is asked as part of a normal conversation you’re having with the client. They come from close listening. For example the first trial close list above is “What do you think of the homes we’ve looked at so far?” You might ask this after you’ve shown them three or four homes. It can be asked in the car, while leaving a home you’ve just shown – anywhere actually where you won’t be heard by the seller. You might hear: “I really liked this one.” Great, ask what they liked about it – you’re getting more helpful information. If you’re working with a couple you might hear disagreement, like: The wife says “I loved the kitchen in the blue house!” and the husband responds with “Yeah, but we really need a 4th bedroom so I can use it as my home office.” Now you know exactly what kind of kitchen the wife wants and that the husband really wants a home office. You can probe further by asking the husband a question or two about how he envisions this office. Do you see how valuable trail closes can be? It’s the easiest and best way to pull helpful information from your client and find them the solution they need. If you have any questions about the trial close, ask them here and we’ll get an answer.
Anne Wayman real estate writer