We all know how to close business – ask for the order, surface and jump any objections, secure a commitment, and let it be known to others in the account that a decision has been made in your favor to make it more difficult for a competitor to turn the decision around. Then, we address the underlying concerns to the earlier objections and formalize the deal.
A trial close, however, is a bit different. Its intent is not to secure an order, but to see what stands in the way of securing an order when the time is right. Instead of jumping objections, we do a deep dive to determine:
The customer dialog might go something like this, “John, I know that you’re not at the point in your buying process to make a decision as to whom you would like to partner with on this project, but if I may ask, if you were to consider the options at this point, is there anything that might be of concern in working with us?” A similar exchange might occur pre down select, but with the focus on being short listed. As such, we can think of a trial close as an approach to measuring the amount of competitive advantage we have in a sales campaign. Not exactly rocket science, or is it?
When we talk about competitive advantage, we’re referring to our competitive position, relative to other suppliers, and our competitive momentum, the amount of inertia we have in our sales campaign. The more inertia, the less vulnerable we are to being derailed by customer organizational changes or new competitive developments, as examples. It’s all about position and momentum. And that’s where science comes in.
In 1927, Werner Heisenberg, the German physicist and pioneer in quantum mechanics, published his Uncertainty Principle, which earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1932. Basically, he said that the position (x) and momentum (p) of a particle could not both be accurately measured at the same time. That, when you measure something, you simultaneously change it, creating uncertainty – shine a light on something to see it, and you change what you’re looking at because the photons of light impact the sub-atomic particles.
When we trial close a customer and ascertain our competitive position, our competitive momentum simultaneously changes. That is, the very process of properly trial closing will reciprocally increase our competitive momentum and inertia because of the relationship building that occurs when addressing a person’s concerns – discussions that are deep, caring, and relevant.
This means that trial closing is, itself, a nontraditional source of competitive advantage!