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Dealership sales managers and salespeople should know how and when to use trial closing techniques during the selling process. In my new online sales training program, Automotive Training Network, I share three surefire trial closing techniques that every salesperson should know: the greeting trial close, demo drive trial close and scale trial close.

In general, trial closing questions are designed to gain customer insight to opinions, needs and wants for a vehicle. As with any trial close, they are intended to help you flush out and identify any challenges, concerns or objections that might halt the sale. Keep in mind, this differs from an actual closing and is intended only to acquire feedback and additional information from your prospect. A trial close is not intended to be used as a technique to secure a final decision. The goal of any trial close is to identify:

  • Whether or not the prospect is on board.
  • If you are heading in the right direction.
  • If you are targeting a vehicle they would like to own.

The Scale Trial Close

Of the three types I outlined above, I would like to hone in on the scale trial close (STC), which achieves best results when used between the end of the demo ride and prior to sitting down with a customer to begin writing up the sale. The STC is a 1-10 number rating system that allows you, the salesperson, to:

  1. Gauge the commitment level of the customer to BUY NOW, and
  2. Reduce emphasis on price during negotiation

One of my favorite script samples for the STC goes as follows: Mr. Customer, before I sit down with you and start the paperwork so that you could take home the 2014 Cadillac CTS, where do you see yourself landing on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 meaning “slow down,” I have a few questions and concerns, and 10 meaning “zip it up, write it up and let me take the Cadillac home today?”

Rarely will you get an answer on either end of the spectrum – a direct 1 or 10. Generally, the client will respond with a 6, 7 or 8 in which you should give positive reinforcement by responding with: “WOW, I thought it would be a higher number than that!”

At that point the customer might move the number up or down a point or two. A higher number shows they are easier to negotiate with. A lower number might reveal that this is not the vehicle for them. If instead of providing a new number, they might stop to justify why they chose their initial number.

Other Negotiation Factors

Keep in mind, determining factors could be anything at this point in the negotiation process (like model, color, timing, etc.). If you have truly sold the vehicle and have an emotional and mental commitment on the purchase, at this point their biggest concern could likely be related to price. If price is the main factor, there are another set of scripts and determining factors that need to be followed.

Like anything you are trying to learn, the key to mastering any trial closing technique is to practice, practice, practice. Memorize, get to know and use the exact phrases in order to make them sound natural. Role play different scenarios on a regular basis with colleagues in order to practice and rehearse these techniques. At the end of the day, listening to your customers’ needs and providing excellent customer service will leave a lasting impression for both you and the dealership.