Weak salespeople close hard. Let me repeat: Weak salespeople close hard. Closing is a skill learned for salespeople to get the order. The problem is that most salespeople close for the order instead of finding out what the customer wants and needs. Don’t you hate it when you go to buy a big ticket item, such as a new car or truck, or a copier or furniture and the salesperson is pressuring you to buy? Many companies and their management think these are good selling skills, and the salespeople are doing a fine job. But they are not forming relationships and not getting customers to return or tell other people about their wonderful experience buying the product or service.

So what is the problem here? Simple– no trial closes. A trial close sets everything up in a logical, straightforward manner that lets the customer in on the sales process. An example would be: “Hey, reader, if you like my articles, would you be interested in buying any of my books or bringing me in to train your salespeople?” This is right to the point and honest, and will elicit a response.

If you say yes, great. Now I just have to ask you some more questions to find out the rest of your needs. If you say no, all I have to do is say two simple words: Why not? You have heard me go on and on about the use of questions in the sales process to gather information on the customer and/or the company. This is what salespeople are supposed to do. If you don’t believe me, just pick up any book on sales by a notable author, and they all will say the same thing: Selling is asking, not telling.

Now, through the use of more questions, I will find out whether you are a prospect. If not, fine, time to move on. If you might be, this will entail more time, more questions and maybe more visits or conversations. The whole premise behind the trial close is a simple “If I…will you?” This will work any time in a sales situation, but it’s usually best toward the beginning of the conversation.

Now, pretend we are in a car dealership, and we want to start the process of looking for a new car. The salesperson greets us and then for a minute or so, asks us a few basic questions and starts to build rapport with us (the customer). Next, the salesperson says: “Hey, if I can find the car you want, I’ll take 4 percent off the sticker price, since there is only 8 percent markup anyhow. This way you will get a good price, we make some money and the price will be competitive to any dealer in the country, since we all pay the exact price from the manufacturer anyway.

Wouldn’t that put you more at ease? We got right down to it, and we don’t have to haggle later. The more a salesperson uses a trial close, the less he or she will use pressure closes in the selling process. In fact, if the salesperson is really good, uses a darn good trial close and asks a ton of high-quality questions, they won’t have to do any closing. Why? Simple: Customers will tell you what they want to buy, when they want to buy, how they want to buy and usually how much they will pay. Remember, trial close and many questions are the key to a sale.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on Sales and Customer Service. He is the best-selling author of “Can I have 5 minutes of your time?”, “Lip Service” and “Get What You Want!” He can be reached at Halbecker.com

Don’t miss Hal Becker at the 2010 Senior Market Advisor Expo in Las Vegas. Register today and attend Hal Becker’s closing keynote speech, “Attract New Clients and Keep the Clients You Have!”