Finding the Market Demand

by Jacques Werth and Carl Ingalls of High Probability Selling

“Market demand” comes from people who want what you’re selling.  This article describes an efficient process for finding and connecting with these people.

Call the Right People

Get a list from a reputable list broker of people who are likely to need your product.  Start with the demographics of your current customers, or with those of your competitors.  Check all the different demographics that the list broker can sort for and select those most pertinent to your business.

Focus only on the decision makers, the people who have the authority to buy.

Call each person on your list.  Ask to speak with that person.  If you get a gatekeeper, ask for help.  Don’t attempt to “get around” the gatekeeper.  Some can and will influence the decision maker.  Treat everyone with respect.

Have the Right Attitude

Be direct, open, and transparent.  Be clear and obvious about your purpose.

Be a seeker.  Be the prospector looking for gold, not the alchemist who desperately tries to turn everything into gold.  Look in likely places, and move on when they don’t pan out.

Respect the fact that the buying decision is up to the prospect, not up to you.  Think of how you feel when a salesperson tries to make your purchase decision for you, and especially when you know that you are the one who has to deal with the outcome.

Begin your conversation by immediately getting down to business.  Don’t begin with, “Hi, how are you?”  That sends the wrong signal.  People who want to do business aren’t looking for a new friend.

Say the Right Things

Identify yourself and your company.  Describe your product as concisely as possible.  Ask if this is something they want.  Say all of this in 45 words or less, preferably less.  If you’re still talking after 45 words, your prospect has probably stopped listening.

Avoid saying anything designed to persuade, convince, or influence.  You are looking for someone who already wants what you’re selling.  Anything you say that is meant to influence them will create sales resistance.

How you say these things matters just as much as what you say.  Pay careful attention to your clarity, tone, and timing.

Ask the Right Question

The question is simple: “Is this something you want?”  It doesn’t ask the prospect to decide if they will buy from you.  It asks them to tell you whether they want your specific type of product or service, or not.

This question will identify the prospects who have real buying intent, as opposed to those who are merely interested.

Do not ask, “Is this something you might want?”  It’s too tentative.  You’re not looking for a maybe, and neither is a real buyer.

Listen and Respect the Answer

Only after the prospect says a definite “Yes,” should you spend any time talking with them.

You need to be prepared to take “No” for an answer, and to respect that answer.  Don’t try to turn it into “Yes.”  Don’t even attempt to discuss it.

If the prospect says “No,” simply accept it and courteously end the call.  Don’t let any disappointment or frustration color your tone of voice or manner.  Always be respectful and professional.  This will significantly improve your chances that the same person will say “Yes” on a future call.

If the prospect says “Maybe,” you can tell them that you are looking for people who definitely want what you are selling right now.  Politely end the call and do not spend any time talking with them.

If the prospect asks a specific question about your product or service that can be answered simply and directly, then answer the question.  Then restate your offer and ask again if this is something they want.

Never hesitate to answer a question about price.  Answering with a wide price range often works best, i.e.: “It will cost between $10,000 and $20,000, depending upon your specific requirements.”

If the prospect is merely interested or asks for general information, verify that you have their correct email address and send them the appropriate email brochure.  Then end the call politely and move on.

If the prospect asks you not to call them again, make sure you comply completely.  No mistakes.  Keep your own “do not call” list, and never call that person again.  (There may be other decision makers in the same company you should be calling; find them.)

If people seem confused about what you’re saying and don’t understand the question, then your prospecting offer may be too vague.  This can also happen if you attempt to sell the benefits of your product, rather than clearly stating what it is.

Move On and Keep Records

After each call, record the results and move on to the next person on your list as quickly as possible.  Be persistently disciplined.  Set a goal for how often you are going to prospect, and for how long.

Keep a log of how much time you spend prospecting, who you called, what offer you gave them, and what was the result.  There is software to manage these details for you, but doing it manually for a while is a good way to develop a clear picture of what’s happening.  Tracking results is the best way to improve your methods.

Call People Again and Again

Continue calling the same list.  Each individual should hear from you every 3 to 4 weeks.  Vary your prospecting offers so that you don’t repeat yourself.  It’s best to have a cycle of at least five different prospecting offers, so you go through all of them before the prospect hears the first one again.

Being able to take “No” for an answer, respecting your prospect’s time, and not being repetitive are the things that will allow you to call again and again.  This creates favorable “front-of-mind” awareness, so that when the prospect does want what you’re selling, they will likely think of you, and respond positively to your next call.

If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll have a much higher probability of contacting prospects when the time is right.  Prospects buy in their own time.

Finding the Market Demand

What if Selling was more like a Video Game?

by Jacques Werth

I’m fascinated by the quick learning abilities of my children when they play video games. Most recently my children received a Wii game unit for Christmas. Before the day had expired Samuel, my 8-year-old son challenged me to a boxing match.

Finally, I thought, something electronic where I can whup on my kids. I’ve got formal training in the martial arts and can move my hands quicker than any 8-year-old boy on the planet. The results? I didn’t make it past round 1. Sam KO’d me.

How on earth do children learn electronic games so quickly? Why can’t they learn their school lessons or how to clean their rooms as quickly? The answer? Feedback. The feedback on a video game is neutral, no emotion and it’s immediate. ‘You missed.’ ‘Hit!’ ‘Better luck next time.’

The young skulls full of mush assimilate the information and they immediately try again. How does it work in life or in the business climate? (Sales and business are viewed the same because someone is selling something even when the boss delegates you a task. He just sold you on doing his job.)

A major stumbling block in our business environment is that we rarely deliver direct or neutral feedback. For example, yesterday an office supply salesperson solicited my office. Charles and I were in a meeting when she walked in unannounced with her sales pitch.

She started out by building rapport. “How you doing,” she said as she walked over to my desk and shook my hand. “What is your name,” she asked? She repeated this with Charles. She small-talked a little about our office and then explained that she handles the Chiropractor’s office supplies on the third floor directly above us in the building.

If I were a video game she would hear with my neutral computer voice: “not important, try again.” Or “prospect doesn’t care about the Chiropractor, get to the point.”

For over 80 years sales trainers have taught their students to build rapport. It doesn’t work, it’s manipulative and everybody knows what you’re doing. So why do we continue to build rapport? Why can’t we learn from our children? ‘You missed!’ ‘Try something else.’

The top 1 percent of all salespeople across 23 industries never use rapport building as their modus operandi.  After we informed our office-supply lady that we had no needs or wants, she explained how she was the Area Sales Manager and that she also handles another prominent tenant’s account, followed up with her well-trained question (that she asked five times during the visit) “What one product is the most difficult for you to find?”

What I said and what I thought were not identical. What I thought was: “A high quality sales person properly trained.” What I said was: “we are a small office and can find everything we need at Office Depot.”

What I should have said is: “I don’t do business with people who sell the way you do.

In business and sales we have been trained to ignore the obvious feedback by prospects. When the prospect says “no” or “I’m not interested“, it’s the equivalent of the computer saying, “missed.” When you persist and persuade and manipulate, you antagonize and push away the prospect.

Kids are successful at computer games because they don’t ignore the feedback. They don’t negotiate with “missed.” They adjust and move on.

Note:  Richard Himmer is a contributing author to the High Probability Selling blog.  This article appeared previously on his own blog, at

What if Selling was more like a Video Game?

Angry People

by Jacques Werth

Many years ago I operated a company that waterproofed just about any sort of structure, including residential basements.  Every time there was a heavy rain storm, about three percent of the jobs we did leaked.  We stood by our guarantee, which means that we fixed these leaks as quickly as possible at no charge.

However, the leaks tended to all happen at once, which made it difficult to get them all fixed as quickly as some of our customers wanted.  A few of our customers were very upset about this.  I told my staff to send those people to me.

One day I heard a very loud bang and angry shouting coming from the front office.  I went out to see.  There was a large man holding a baseball bat high over his head in one hand.  He looked and sounded enraged, irrational, and dangerous.  Several of the office staff were cowering along one wall.

He shouted, “I said I want your repair crew out at my house today!”  Then he added some mean threats and fowl language, followed by, “And I mean today!”

As I approached him he turned to me and yelled, “Are you the boss?”  He was still holding the bat.

I looked him in the eyes and said in a conversational manner, “You seem very upset.”

“You’re damned right I’m upset.  You people took my money to waterproof my basement and now it’s flooded and it’s going to ruin my carpets and paneling.  I called to tell you to come out immediately and fix it.  So you &%##*s tell me I have to wait four days.  I want it fixed now, today!”  With that he slammed the baseball bat down hard on one of the desktops, and then I knew what caused the bang I had heard.

I calmly said, “You still seem very upset.”

“Wouldn’t you be upset if you woke up to a flood in your basement?” he shouted, a little less loudly.

“You still seem upset,” I said.

“I wouldn’t be so upset if you just did what I wanted,” he said.  He said this with a much calmer demeanor.

“Are you ready to talk to me in a cooperative manner?” I asked.

He let out a sigh, visibly relaxed, and said, “Yes.”  I could see that his voice and manner were almost normal.

“The first thing you need to do is put that bat in your car.  Then come right back here and you will have my full attention.  We will go into my office and take care of this.”

When he returned, he apologized to everyone there.  Then we had a productive conversation in my office, with an outcome that was satisfactory to both of us.

Situations involving angry people are a normal part of doing business, and of life.  Most of the time, they are not as serious as the one in this story.  Here are some key pointers about how to react.

  • Listen to the angry invective, threats, and verbal abuse.  Make sure all of your attention is focused on listening, and don’t get distracted.  Do not avoid eye contact.
  • Do not attempt to discuss the issues that the person is angry about until after they have completely finished expressing their anger and are calm.
  • Do not react in anger, or with any other emotion.
  • Wait for a pause and then say, “You seem very upset.”  Say this as an impersonal observation, in a totally neutral manner, with no hint of judgment.  Pay careful attention to your inflection, your tone of voice, and your body language.
  • It is very important that you only talk about seeming upset.  Never mention the word “anger”.  Never even hint that you think the person is angry.
  • Most will reply with something like, “You’re damned right I’m upset!”
  • You will probably hear more angry language, but with less energy and a less threatening tone.
  • Say, “You still seem upset.”  Say it in the same calm, neutral, observational manner.  If the signs of anger have not lessened at all, then say “You still seem very upset.”
  • It may take several cycles, where the person expresses their anger and you say that they still seem upset, before they calm down.  Having someone listen to their anger and acknowledge it in a calm manner is calming.
  • Do not talk about anger.  The person will often deny that they were angry, but just wanted to make sure you knew they were upset.

Note – This article was recently published at

Angry People