Value and Trial Close

Value is created through relevant features and benefits of a product. Theoretically, a sale happens when value exceeds the price a customer is willing to pay for it.

Concept of price can be elusive. Everyone perceives price differently. What may be not a lot of money for some, is a fortune to others. In addition, features also get evaluated differently.

In order to deal with ambiguity between price and value, a "trial close" technique is used. During a trial close, a salesperson asks a soft close question in order to gauge a level of interest from a buyer. When a buyer responds with an objection, a salesperson continues to another feature of a product to build more value and asks a soft close question again. This process is repeated until a buyer agrees to purchase a product or service.

Common soft close question include:

"Where would you like it delivered?"

"How do you want to pay for it?"

"How many units would you like?"

Many approach trial close without disclosing the price to the customer first. This is a mistake. Refer to a diagram below:

During the "Approach 1" a salesperson does not disclose a price to a customer. During a trial close, a salesperson gets objection after a soft close on feature 1 and feature 2.

Customer may not know exact price, but he or she may have an idea of what they are willing to pay for it. For example, if we are sold a brand new flagship phone we can expect a price to be around $1,000. Similarly, a customer creates imaginary price in order to value a product.

After feature 3 a salesperson gets an agreement from a buyer to purchase. At this point a real price is exposed. The real price is almost always higher than customers valuation. In this case, a sale would fall through because what customer willing to pay for the product is less what a seller is asking for it. A comeback from this error is nearly impossible. A salesperson would have to find value to bridge a gap between customers price and actual price. In addition, because of poor sales experience, customers valuation of a product decreases resulting in need of even greater value to close the sale.

A better approach would be to disclose an actual price before attempting a trial close. Refer to a diagram below:

During "Approach 2" a salesperson discloses actual price first. This allows customers perceived price and actual price to align. A salesperson would continue trial closing until a customers agrees to buy. During this approach, a salesperson can reliably judge how far he or she is from making a sale by judging objections of the customer. When value finally exceed a price, a sales takes place.

Most sales people make an error during the trial close by hiding the price. This is done to avoid objections during the sales process. This is a poor judgement because objection is not the same as rejection. As demonstrated above, hiding the price until the end would likely result in a poor sales experience forcing the seller either to adjust a price in a form of discount or give away value by offering extra features or services.