9 Tips for Prospecting Success

by Jacques Werth
President, High Probability Selling

Prospecting effectively is often the key difference between success and failure in sales.

“Get me in front of them, and I can do the rest” is a commonly heard phrase from many salespeople, and prospecting is often seen as the most challenging part of the sales process.

The ability to prospect efficiently, effectively and enjoyably will enable you to meet with prospects that need, want and can afford your products and services – now.  When you meet with those kinds of prospects, your confidence will soar, and empower you to earn a consistently superior income.  Here’s how to find them:

9 Tips for Prospecting Success:

1.    Start with a highly targeted prospecting list, consisting of people or companies that are most likely to buy your type of products and services. Use a highly reputable list broker to find such a list. The cost should be no more than 25¢ per name. Start with a list of no more than 500 names.  If you have a sufficient book of business already, you can also call your existing customers as if they are new prospects.

2.    Call every name on your list every 3-4 weeks. Understand that only a small percentage of your list will be ready to buy the first time that you call. More will be ready each successive time that you call. Most prospects will not want to meet with you until you have presented prospecting offers at least three times.

3.    Present a “prospecting offer” of no more than 45 words that clearly states who you are, what you are selling, and two features of your product or service. Finish up with “Is that what you want?” Change the two features of your offer each subsequent time you contact your list. That will prevent most prospects from getting annoyed. It will also eliminate most of the rejection that is caused by traditional cold calling.

4.    Differentiate yourself by taking “no” for an answer.  If the prospect says “No” or “I’m not interested,” you say “Okay, good bye.” Do not press for an appointment. Do not try to engage the prospect in a conversation or ask any further questions or build a relationship.  Differentiate yourself…be the salesperson that respects what prospects say…even if it’s “no”.  Let that build the relationship.

5.    Schedule your prospecting sessions for 3½ hours. Take a fifteen-minute break between each hour.  Don’t mix your prospecting time in with other tasks.

6.    Record yourself. Use a recorder with an open microphone to record your side of each call.  Play it back and listen to how you sound (from the perspective of you as a prospect). The goal is to hear yourself using usual conversational tones.  Do not try to sound like a professional salesperson.  Do not try to come across as overly enthusiastic, unusually friendly or enticing. Just relax and present your offer without persuasion.

7.    Always be in a “Disqualification” mode. Be determined to spend your selling time only with High Probability Prospects. Disqualify low probability prospects quickly and courteously.  Don’t allow desperation or anxiousness to deter you from that mission.

8.    Accept the fact that prospecting really is a “numbers game”. The most important numbers are your Dials Per Hour and the ratio of prospecting Offers to Dials.

9.    Keep accurate statistics of your prospecting sessions. We have trained thousands of salespeople to be successful prospectors. The most successful of those keep very accurate statistics. The act of keeping statistics will cause your subconscious mind to constantly improve your results. Our “High Probability Prospecting Activity Record” form may help you do this. You can download it here:  prospecting-activity-record-2009-06-22

Effective telephone prospecting is one of the most productive ways to build up your sales volume, with very little up-front expense and a minimum of marketing expertise.

Start with telephone prospecting, and eventually you will get so many referrals from your existing customers that you will need to an assistant to prospect for you.


Until Next Time…Sell Well

Jacques Werth – High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

41 thoughts on “9 Tips for Prospecting Success”

  1. Please send me the High Probability Prospecting Activity Record” form at your earliest convenience.




  2. Dear Jacques,

    As your schedule permits, could you please send me the: High Probability Prospecting Activity Record.

    I totally agree about accurate calling logs.

    Thank you,
    Mike Vrchota


  3. Thank you for reminding me of a key focus of prospecting (not mixing prospecting time with other activities). I had a manager who demanded ‘mixed’ activity. Now that I’m the manager, I can refocus those efforts with my team. Please email the “High Probability Prospecting Activity Record” form…All the Best, Randy


  4. Thank you for your article I’ve learned a lot about prospecting correctly. I just started my business and this gave great ideas on how to select the right client.

    Thank you


  5. Hello, I have made first experience with HPS cold calls and like the idea. I just started selling trainings for foreign languages etc. so I have several products to offer but with a similar topic. You state that we should contact every name every 3-4 weeks offering another product. Doesn’t it also get on the nerves of prospecting clients when they have to deal every 3-4 weeks with a similar topic? What would be a sample wording for the second/third call? Thanks, Ruth


  6. Hello Ruth,

    Here is a sample of just three out of the many prospecting offers we use for training in High Probability Selling. We space them about 3-4 weeks apart. The order doesn’t matter.

    – This is Jacques Werth of High Probability Selling. We teach salespeople how to spend most of their time with prospects who want to buy their products and services. This increases their closing rates. Is that the kind of training you want?

    – This is Jacques Werth of High Probability Selling. We train salespeople how to contact all of their prospects briefly and frequently. Prospects welcome those kinds of calls. Is that the kind of training you want?

    – This is Jacques Werth of High Probability Selling. We enable salespeople to comfortably increase the number of prospects they contact; and find the ones that are ready, willing and able to buy. Is that the kind of training you want?



  7. Jacques, Thanks for the samples. I’ve still got questions… The sentences sound all like a cold call. But when I call the same person once again, it es not really a cold call anymore and I’m sure that they will remember me. What experience do you make, are those people really open for your news when they already have said “no” the calls before?


  8. Ruth,
    The human mind recognizes word patterns and often rejects those that are identical, which they have replied negatively to in the past.

    That is one of the reasons each of our prospecting offers is worded differently. Equally important, each of the offers mentions different features.

    People buy in their own time for their own reasons. Thus, when they say “No,” most often it means “Not now.”

    Most people are happy to take calls that are very brief – if the caller quickly accepts their negative response with “Okay, good bye.”

    In human behavior, statistics trump logical theories.


  9. I also have a “hypey” letter that I’m soon taking down here: {hyperlink deleted}

    Ruth, thanks for asking these specific questions and getting those sample offers from Jacques. And Jacques, thanks for being so thorough in your answer to Ruth.

    Now I have a question. I call a current list with current phone numbers…but have to leave a message to 90 percent of them. Do you recommend leaving a short message like the ones you gave as samples here? Or not?



    1. Deb,
      I asked Jacques about leaving voice messages while prospecting. He said he knows of one person who has been successful with that, and several hundred who have found it to be ineffective. Until we can teach people how to make it work, we are not recommending it. But if you do try leaving voice messages, make sure you keep very close track of your success rate, and compare that to what happens when you do not leave voice messages. You might find what works.


  10. Thanks Carl,

    This has been my experience so far with leaving messages. I have access to resume leads that are quite current. Almost all the phone numbers are working numbers. I leave this message:

    Hello, This is Deborah Adams. Your resume came to me as someone who might be interested in sales work. If so, call me at 903-946-25xx. Bye.

    I have had 30% call-backs, which is high! This high response may be due to the huge number of unemployed, but people are often just happy that someone called them for any possibility. No one has been unset that I’m proposing that they sell de-regulated energy, nor that I’m not promising a salary with benefits. (I think most are under-employed or worried about being laid off if they are not.)

    There are so many highly qualified people out of work or unemployed just now in our country!

    Once I get their call-backs, then I give them the 35 work or less offering. I’m ever refining this wording.

    I appreciate your prompt answers.

    Deb Adams


  11. Hello Deb,

    A 30% call-back rate from voice mail messages is a good response. It is also very good that you are keeping track. Make sure that you are keeping the most accurate data on what matters most, which is the ultimate and long-term success of you and your prospects.

    At this point, my main concern is that your voice message does not disclose what you are selling. This is very much against the principles of High Probability Selling.

    Carl Ingalls


  12. Hi there, I would like to subscribe for this web
    site to take hottest updates, therefore where can i
    do it please help.

    Here is my web page:
    [website address removed by editor – Ingalls]


    1. Hello Gopsort,

      To subscribe to this blog, click on the “Subscribe” button at the top of this page. You will then be able to select whether you wish to receive email copies of posts that are articles, announcements, or both.

      Articles are about selling. Announcements are about what we sell (books and recordings and sales training).

      Carl Ingalls


  13. I was told by a sales trainer, not to prospect for Life Insurance sales in the month of December. I don’t see how that would be a problem. Do you?

    Ed Lacovara


  14. First off I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t
    mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts
    out there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first
    10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Appreciate it!


    1. This comment from zdrowie is spam. I am leaving it in place (without its hyperlink), because Deb Adams wrote such a nice response to the question.

      One clue that it is a spam comment is the fact that no mention was made about selling. A much stronger clue is the fact that almost identically worded comments appear on many other blogs. If you are curious about such things, just put a key phrase from the comment in a search engine. For instance, you could Google the phrase “I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts”. You will then see that the complete comment appears in multiple places, with minor variations.

      Carl Ingalls


  15. I find that most people have a rough start when sitting down to focus on writing something. Personally, I do my best writing when I first get up in the morning — that’s IF I have planned or thought about it the day(s) before. I think one’s subconscious works on it during sleep. (I could be wrong about that, but it seems so for me.). Even so as a Creative Writing teacher, I encourage free flow – stream of consciousness type of beginnings, not focusing on spelling/grammar. It get the creative fires going. It’s a process…writing is.
    Steps in the Writing Process

    1. Pre-writing: This is the planning phase of the writing process, when students brainstorm, research, gather and outline ideas, often using diagrams for mapping out their thoughts. Audience and purpose should be considered at this point, and for the older students, a working thesis statement needs to be started.
    2. Drafting: Students create their initial composition by writing down all their ideas in an organized way to convey a particular idea or present an argument. Audience and purpose need to be finalized.
    3. Revising: Students review, modify, and reorganize their work by rearranging, adding, or deleting content, and by making the tone, style, and content appropriate for the intended audience. The goal of this phase of the writing process is to improve the draft.
    4. Editing: At this point in the writing process, writers proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics, and edit to improve style and clarity. Having another writer’s feedback in this stage is helpful.
    5. Publishing: In this last step of the writing process, the final writing is shared with the group. Sharing can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and with the help of computers, it can even be printed or published online.

    Free writing is a great habit to get into…jotting down thoughts and ideas toward your ultimate goal.
    Sorry, the teacher came out in me!


  16. How well does High Probabibility Prospecting work for P&C insurance, specifically auto and homeowner insurance? P&C insurance is primarily done by quoting for business which gets me thinking, should the question be changed from is that something you want to is a quote something you want?

    We do a lot of direct marketing to make the phone ring and are looking at other ways to grow the business.



    1. Hello Mike,

      High Probability Prospecting can work well for selling auto and homeowner insurance, depending on how you use it.

      We recommend High Probability Prospecting for selling quality products and quality service to people who want those things. We do not recommend it for agents who are only selling to people who buy the lowest priced insurance.

      A good situation for using High Probability Prospecting is when you are selling more than one insurance product, where one is higher quality and the other is low price.

      Carl Ingalls


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