Prospecting Persistence Pays

by Jacques Werth

My first job after college was selling forklift trucks in an industrial section of New York City.  I was prospecting on foot because telephones were too expensive.

I walked into the main office of a company that made valves.  I told the receptionist I needed to speak with John.
An angry-faced man stuck his head out of one of offices behind her and yelled, “Get rid of that *** salesman!”
She shrugged her shoulders and mouthed “Sorry.”
So I left.
About three weeks later, when I was in that neighborhood, I again went into the same office, saw the same receptionist, and handed her my business card.
“Is John available?” I asked.
“What is this in reference to?” she asked.
“Forklift trucks”, I said.
Before she could do anything, the same guy came out of the same office and hollered, “Tell that *** salesman I’m not interested in whatever he is selling.”
She gave me a meek smile of embarrassment before I left.
A few weeks later and I was right back in the same office.  I said to the receptionist, “Would you tell John that I want to talk to him about forklift trucks.”
She picked up her phone and dialed a two digit number and said, “Jacques Werth is here to talk to you about forklifts.” Then, she hung up and said, “He’s not interested.”
The next time I came into the office, the receptionist told me that her boss was in a particularly foul mood, much worse than usual, and that I should probably just go.
“I heard that!  Who are you talking to?”, came the angry voice from the office behind her.
Before she could answer, John came out of the office, looked at me and said, “It’s you, the forklift guy.  Get your *** in my office!”

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

24 thoughts on “Prospecting Persistence Pays”

  1. That’s a good point you make Carl. My first blush take away from the story made me think of how in High Probability Prospecting, because of how its done, you as the salesman gain front of mind presence. Meaning the first several times you call on the prospect, they don’t want what you offer, but since you have front of mind presence, when something in their life or business changes so that they now want what you offer, they think of you and the next time you call on them they want what you offer. I was thinking in this story maybe something in John’s business happened where he needed to change his forklift supplier.


  2. Jacques,
    I had a similarly humourous “front of mind” experience… albeit in marketing rather than prospecting. I tell it in hopes you’ll forgive the non-sequiter;

    About 13-14 years ago, when I made a career shift into mortgage origination, I decided to create inbound calls by posting “creative financing” flyers on telephone polls. I laid out a map grid across all of King County (surrounding Seattle,) and methodically drove street by street stapling flyers to gradually cover “my territory.”

    After several weeks (and great success in inbound calls,) I got a rather irate call from the King County Manager’s office. The “big cheese” got on the phone and in his most intimidating tone & manner recited zipe code by zip code and neighborhood by neighborhood how he had been tracking my illegal activities (apparently I was breaching litter laws as well as endangering utility workers with rustable staples.) He raked me back & forth across the coals, and warned me if I did not stop immediately he would have a law officer escort me across the entire path (that I had laid out for 3-4 weeks already) to remove every flyer that remained… and THEN I would be liable for that officer’s hourly pay.

    When he was finished, and satisified that I was sufficiently contrite over my offenses… his voice immediately and dramatically changed.

    He said; “So Mr. Donhoff, is this matter settled?”
    I said; “Yes sir.”

    He said; “Good… then is it OK if I have my daughter and her husband contact you to see if you can help THEM with their home financing?”

    And they did….
    And I have done 3 loans for them over the years…
    AND they have introduced me to others that have resulted in at least 5 more transactions….
    AND at least 4 of the parties that resulted from that manager’s “scolding” have converted to retirement and personal planning clients as well.

    They say “No good deed goes unpunished”… however, SOMETIMES the punishment is worth the taking ;~)


  3. Maybe I’m missing something. “Get your *** in my office!” is the last words in the blog. Did this story have a happy ending or did Jacques waste MORE time getting chewed out by John? Is “Get your *** in my office!” a criteria for a high probability prospect?

    Also, maybe I’m missing something but does High Probability Prospecting advocate a three week follow up cycle? I’ve flipped through Chapter 5 again and I can’t see how High Probability Prospecting prescribes the follow up to those that say “No.”


    1. Kevin,

      The story had a very successful ending. Jacques made that sale, and several more with the same customer. The point is that niceties are not as necessary as many people believe for being successful in selling.

      The three-week follow up cycle for High Probability Prospecting is an average that works in most cases. There are a few special cases where the cycle is much shorter. There may be a few cases where a slightly longer cycle will work ok.

      The book “High Probability Selling” was designed to explain what it is and why it works. It was not designed to teach you how to do it. Very few people become successful at High Probability Selling only from reading the book. That is what our training workshops are for. Even then, it doesn’t work for everybody (see today’s blog post).

      Carl Ingalls


  4. What is everyone’s comment mean: “Front of mind.”

    I thought about the forklift story. I decided that the reason Jacques kept going there was because the guy “just hadn’t DISqualified himself” yet! I never thought he was a glutton for punishment — just working his program, BUT — would someone explian the term “front of mind” to me. If you refer to the book, I’ll look it up and read it.



  5. To: Chubby Davis –
    Please read “When High Probability Selling Doesn’t Work” on this blog.
    We have also found that people who have little or nothing at stake seldom complete High Probability Selling courses. If they do complete a course they seldom fully utilize it.


  6. Deb,
    Yes, people appreciate persistence, but only if it is done without putting any pressure on them. When done properly it is quick, painless, and it leaves favorable, front of the mind awareness. We apply the same concepts to High Probability Prospecting via telephone.


  7. Deb,
    “Favorable front of the mind awareness” is a marketing term. It means you are doing something that causes people to think of you favorably, any time they are reminded of your type of product or service. It tends to overcome competition.

    Example: Now and then we get a call from someone who says s/he just got an email from one of our many competitors. So, s/he decided it is time to enroll in one our courses.


  8. So Jacques, Deb’s assessment of your forklift story was correct. You kept applying persistence because he hadn’t DQd himself yet?

    I still would like to read the end of the story. Did he take you into his office and rip you a new one? Or write you a PO?


  9. Kevin:

    Yes, Deb is right.

    He said, “Go into the warehouse and take a look at our two forklifts. Then, give me a price on two replacements, less the value of the trade-ins.”

    I checked them out and called my boss. He gave me the pricing. Then, I went back to the prospect and told him the price and the trade-in value.

    He said the price is too high.

    I said it’s non-negotiable; that the only way I could go any lower is to give him my commission. And, I would not do that.

    He said, “You have to, if you want to make this sale.

    I said, “Okay, $10.”

    He said, “Make it $20,” and I agreed.

    He said, “I never pay the first price. I always get a discount. And, you caught me on a good day.”

    A few months latter, he bought a bigger, more expensive forklift to use in the unpaved yard where they stored their raw materials.



  10. Excellent. Thank you for the clarification. Just because they’re a jerk, doesn’t mean they’re DQd.

    We have found that High Probability Selling works well with the team and product that I’m selling at In fact, it has helped us to increase our revenue per account because we do a lot more disqualifying of the prospect BEFORE we do a demonstration and, of course, a proposal. Our final DQ question goes like this “If I show you something that you like, would you be willing to move forward with a $2k monthly campaign in the next week?” It allows the prospect to DQ themself ala HPS.


  11. Jacques,

    You got so many of these great and inspiring stories that are more than just entertaining. I’ve found that the High Probability concepts I can remember and learn the quickest are the ones I’ve heard you tell a story about where in the story you are implementing the concept. You do this a lot in your training sessions, but It would be great if there was a way to get all these stories and organize them into a book somehow.

    You have a High Probability Selling book. This one could be High Probability Selling Applied or something like that. It could explain the High Probability Selling concept, and then use one of your story’s to illustrate the application of that concept. I think it could be very powerful in helping more salesman catch on and apply High Probability concepts, especially after they have gone through a training course.

    I’ll admit, this idea could be coming from the fact that I have a selfish desire of to get more of Jacques stories ;).


  12. I like Charles’s suggestion about another book filled with Jacques’s stories showing High-Probability Sales “in action.” An edited version of the original book could be made that added two important aspects: (1) references to the particular story showing the lesson applied, and (2) an index. I’ve tried to find things in the book and wished for an index in the back to help me. (More than once.)

    Of course the edited original could just incorporate lessons AND stories (and index).

    For some reason (I haven’t identified yet) I find reading the “book,” soothing. My one contact with Jacques was “majorly” helpful because he edited my “offer,” however, I was left wanting more — more, strangely more info, contact, answers – all the above type of thing. In fact, I know he/you are more than capable of running your business, and it’s none of mine; however, I think there’s a need for brief consultation sessions on line, by phone. Not all of us can get into a training session (due to time and/or money) but we could afford a “session” for specific needs and purposes.
    For example, after my offer was edited, it fell to me to be the “expert” and edit two of my friend’s offers. (I knew how ludicrous that was on the face, but what other choice did they have?) I passed along the info/advice as judiciously as I could. One of my friends (my cousin as well) said he’d be willing to pay Jacques if he would edit his 42 word offer.

    So, I’m just passing on feedback about a possible untapped market need.

    (By the way, I’m convinced that one element of why I enjoy reading the book intermittently and often is because it inherently “cures” ANY tendency toward codependency. Does ANYONE OUT THERE know how hard it is for “us” NOT to say “Thank you” or to be the conciliatory, facilitator twisting ourselves into a pretzel trying to please? It’s so empowering NOT to do that on lots of levels and in other-than-prospecting situations. I think sometimes I get rather giddy with the sense of empowerment. Note: Last comment is only somewhat fatuous.)

    By the way, I rarely contribute to blogs; but can’t seem to read this one without weighing it.

    Have a nice day all!


  13. Deb-

    I’m glad you’re sharing your thoughts. Please continue.

    And I enjoy dealing with prospects and customers as two equals pursuing a mutually beneficial relationship and goals.


  14. Chubby,
    If we knew:
    Your number of dials per hour;
    Your number of offers per hour;
    Your prospecting hours per day;
    How many days you have prospected;
    What you are selling;
    What the demographics of your prospecting list are;
    How your prospecting offer is worded;
    How you handle the responses to your offer;
    Then we might be able to make sense out of your question.

    Feel free to call me to discuss whether you should be using High Probability Prospecting, or not.



  15. Deb,

    Several years ago, we provided a “prospecting offer editing and critique service.” It turned out to be unsatisfying for our clients, and very unprofitable for us. There are many other variables, besides the prospecting offer, that determine the productivity of High Probability Prospecting (HPP). Those variables include:

    What you are selling
    Your target market.
    The mind-set of HPP.
    The appropriateness of your prospecting list.
    The quality of your prospecting list.
    The design of your prospecting offer.
    How you present your offers.
    How you handle prospects’ responses.
    How you prospect to existing clients and prospects.
    How to set HPP appointments.
    How to get mutual commitments before you visit prospects.
    How much time per prospecting session.
    How many dials you do per hour.
    How many offers you present per hour.
    How many prospecting sessions you do per week.

    We know what works for each of those variables, and what does not work. That is what we teach in the HPP courses. Teaching it to small groups of students makes it economical.

    Teaching HPP as one-to-one “brief consultation sessions” is expensive.



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