By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’ve got one or more undecided students that haven’t officially told you they’re coming, and they haven’t submitted a deposit either…but you feel really good about your chances. Plus you haven’t asked them if they’ve made up their mind because you’re worried they’ll take it as you pressuring them.
If that sounds like you or one of your admissions colleagues, the next step is to learn how to start asking effective trial close questions.
Not familiar with that term? It’s okay – you’re not alone.
A trial close question is a closing technique that gives you insight into what the other person is thinking thus making it easier for you to know when it’s time to ask for their commitment. These kinds of questions need to be in every admissions recruitment playbook.
Today, I’m going to give you a sample of the strategy I outline when I lead an admissions training workshop, and we discuss this topic. Again, using this technique will allow you to interact more effectively with the prospective student or parent that you’re talking to.
Once you gain agreement through small wins that I call little yeses, and you overcome objections, you’re a step closer to gaining their commitment. Now I want you to build on that momentum. There are two more important steps in the selling process that need to take place. One of those steps is to use a couple of effective trial close questions with the student or his or her parents. A trial close question is one that assumes a future action, or the other person’s interest level in something, because you want to see how they will respond.
For example, you could ask, “When you get on campus this fall, do you think you want to live in (insert freshmen dorm name)?” Another one might be, “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, have you talked about how often Sarah might come home during the school year?”
Do you hear the tone of those questions? They already assume that Sarah is coming to your school in the way that you ask the question. Now it’s time to listen closely to the other person’s response. Do they answer in such a way that tells you they’re assuming the same thing? Or do they answer your question with, “I don’t know…I’ve never really thought about that before” or “I don’t know…we haven’t talked about that yet.” If you get a response like either of those ones then you know that you still have more work to do.
Trial close questions will allow you to:
- Know when to ask for their commitment without appearing to be “pushy”
- Better understand their mindset
- Uncover possible objections that remain unresolved in their mind
- Keep control over the entire recruiting process
Let me be 100% clear. Trial close questions are not the same as “asking for the sale.” They’re questions that lead up to it. Again, you’re asking for an opinion and not a decision…it’s almost like a test run to see if the other person, namely the student, is ready to commit.
If you have questions about this, I want you to email me. I also want to encourage you and your admissions team to develop a list of effective trial close questions that you can incorporate on a regular basis during your recruiting conversations. Doing so will give everyone an added degree of confidence.
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