Closing a sale is a complicated process. At which point to ask for the order, is one of the most important questions a salesman has to face. “Trial” closes are attempts by the sales person to assess the potential buyer’s readiness to accept the sale. A trial close question might be, “When do you want to take delivery?”. It’s part of a powerful closing tool called The Assumptive Close. In this approach we act as if the sale were a done deal. Inexperienced sales people tend to repeatedly ask the client if they are ready to buy, or if they have any additional questions that they need to answer. A rule of thumb is to ask early and ask often. That’s because potential buyers don’t always give “buying signals’ or if they do, inexperienced sales people often miss them, sometimes even projecting their own doubts about the product into the sales process. They wind up talking themselves out of the order.

As with everything, the assumptive close can be co-opted and perverted by unscrupulous people. I just got a call from a furnace cleaning company. The sales person asked for me by name and then said that he and I had spoken last year and that I had asked him to call me this year for cleaning the air ducts in our home. Problem is: We don’t have any air ducts (we heat with hot-water radiators). I have a pretty good long-term memory and knew right off the bat that I had never spoken to this guy. As soon as I reminded him that I had no air ducts he said, “Oh, I’m sorry, someone must have made a mistake”, and promptly hung up.

The assumption of familiarity and/or the existence of a preexisting relationship or agreement is a powerful psychological weapon that tries to leverage most people’s insecurity, busy lives, and poor memory for unscrupulous gain.