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.
20 thoughts on “Finding the Market Demand”
Such a smart way to go about it, Jack! I am sharing this post with my sales team immediately. Though we go over and over the fact that we are making contact just so they know what we have (and how it is aligned with what they want), it is hard sometimes for them to not oversell! I especially loved when you stated: “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.”
Thanks for a concise and no-nonsence description of selling that I can also adapt to how I market my services. Warm wishes, Matthew
Hello Mr. Werth,
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your training. I just ran across your book today and have been reading your website information with jaw-dropping admiration of your approach to sales and sales training. I just ordered your book through Barnes and Noble and can’t wait to read it cover-to-cover.
I have been in sales for almost 20 years with only mediocre results, at best. Have been through all of the “old-style”, arm-twisting, manipulative, “shell game” sort of sales training perpetrated on us by the circus acts out there claiming to be sales trainers. It’s amazing the awful things that sales organizations expect a salesperson to say and do to a prospect in order to manipulate them. I have hired on with, and abruptly resigned from, more than my fair share of sales jobs after getting a close-up look at their ridiculously manipulative (or out-and-out lying) sales philosophy. I am still shocked that folks are willing to sell that way, but even more in disbelief as to the utter ignorance that sales are being made in spite of their chosen approach, not because of it.
Anyway, I know that not only will your training take me to where I need to be production-wise, but the best part is that I really feel that I will now be able to enjoy the sales process (which, for me, is just as important as a great income) instead of waking up everyday dreading the day that is ahead of me, which is really nothing more than the concience not being being in congruence with the selling style being practiced.
As you well know, prospects deserve to not only enjoy the product they are buying, but also the way it is being sold to them! And furthermore, salepeople ought to be able to be passionate about their product AND their sales process!!!!!
Thanks again for all your research, hard work, and transparency. For whatever it’s worth, I just want you to know that you have changed a life.
Thank you for telling us about your experience with High Probability Selling. You make all the work we do worthwhile.
Tyler your story of how you felt when you discovered High Probability Selling does a good job of capturing how liberating it is to realize you don’t have push or persuade people in order to do your job. The most exciting part for me was when I started to dive deeper into High Probability concepts and realize its more than a way to do business, it’s also a much more rewarding way to live life. Thanks for sharing.
I am in the middle of reading the book for the first time. It’s a quick read, but I will definitely want to re-read the book several times because of both the subtleties involved in applying HPS optimally, and also becasue of all the unlearning I need to do from my 20 years of manipulative and adversarial sales “training”. I also look forward to getting involved with your additional ongoing sales training soon to take the info I am learning in the book to the highest level possioble. And, yes, I agree that a suprise benefit of learning HPS is that it will become a natural way of not just selling, but of also living life.
Thanks again for all that you all do. You can expect me to spread this selling gospel with missionary zeal to other salepeople I meet and know.
This is absolutely the best, in-a-nutshell article on selling ever written. Honestly, this should be taught in universities, and the book should be required reading.
I use HPS in my personal relationships, too. Reading the Trust and Respect inquiry is instrumental in me forming new relationships, and setting boundaries in current ones.
I have reread this book many times. Doing so helps me maintain an edge, not only in selling, but in life.
Thank you very much for your comment. We love hearing from people whose lives have been changed by High Probability Selling. It’s people like you who keep us going and make us determined to try harder.
Carl Ingalls (and I’m sure Jacques Werth would agree with me)
I just got through reading your book and also a review online by Gill Wagner. He makes specific comments about the success rate of the HPS system as being used by financial salespeople. Do you have any thoughts on this?
“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.”
What do I do if they ask a specific question that is difficult for me to answer directly on the phone? Should I say I cant answer that on th ephone right now but I can get back to you on that later or what???
If you don’t know the answer, then you should say exactly that: “I don’t know the answer.”
If the question is something that is likely to come up again, and if is the sort of question that a person might ask when they are close to making a purchase decision, then you probably should find the answer and have it ready for the next person who asks.
However, if the prospect is just asking a question for the purpose of learning more about your sort of product or service, then we recommend that you move on to the next prospect in your list. You will make more sales if you let your competitors educate your prospects.
Remember, if you are doing High Probability Prospecting, then you are only looking for people who already want what you are selling, and who are ready to make a purchase decision.
Thx for the response Carl, I am a personal trainer in everett, wa, been in the biz for 2 years, there are 2 basic ways us fitness proffessionals build up our clientel base 1) Offer a free 30 min “consultation” where you take a gym member on a workout and at the end pitch pricing for purchasing additional sessions with the member, or 2) the front end sales staff will sell sessions to a member with the gym membership and thats called a “pass off” at which you train the sessions at a lower rate than you’d get if you sell the sessions yourself. regarding the #1 scenario my problem is that Ive done free appointments with gym members that told me at the beginning of the appointment that they didnt think they needed personal training and they were just doing the appointment because it was free and werent planning on continuing with me or purchasing sessions, but by the end of the appointment after experiencing the service and the workout they were buying sessions from me, so I find it hard to pass on people who say they dont want to buy up front because Ive expereinced people who say one thing and do another and that goes for both sides of the coin, people also say they want to buy sessions, but end up not buying as well…this leads me to agree with you on one of your blogs thats says that people buy mostly on emotion rather than logic…so would you still suggest I turn down people who say they arent intersted in buying in my situation, because to me it still seems smarter not to pre-judge and just service as many free appointments as possible to get the % who end up buying at the end of the appointment regardless of what they think they are going to do going into the free appointment with me…any advise for me?????
Unfortunately, you can’t learn how to sell by reading a blog, no matter how well we try to write. But I will try to address one or two points.
If you have a lot of free time, then giving away free consultation sessions is likely to get some new business. However, there is a fundamental problem with giving away anything of value for free. It seriously devalues what you are trying to sell, and this has long-term consequences for your business. You would do better to ask for something in return for those “free” consultation sessions, but it doesn’t have to be money. I recommend that you ask for a conditional commitment.
In our sales training workshops, we work closely with each of our clients in designing a conditional commitment question that is customized for their specific business. In its simplest and most general form, it is something like, “If I do X, then what will you do?”
I also recommend that you not call it a “consultation” session. Salespeople have been using that word to disguise the fact that they are going to do a sales pitch, and people are catching on. I’d recommend that you simply say you are offering a sample of a personal training session.
Here I am, giving free advice, and I know that is dangerous. However, I do hope that this helps people understand better what High Probability Selling is about.
Actual data is the best guide to the right sales strategy. I suggest that you keep records in a notebook.
1. Track how many people say they want to buy and do.
2. Track how many people say they want to buy and do not.
3. Track how many people say they do not want to buy and do.
4. Track how many people say they do not want to buy and do not.
That is a sample of the kind of records we kept when we were developing the HPS process.
My guess is that the data might indicate that a change in your sales strategy would be best.
Thx for the advise.
Have you pre-qualified me yet as a person who wants what your selling or not??? lol 😉
What do you think the probability of me signing up for your training workshop is at this point…? High or Low? 🙂
I love sales.
It is not up to me to tell you whether you want anything or not. It really is your decision.
What is it about sales that you love?
What I think doesn’t matter. What do you want to do?
you guys are smart. And very wise men.
I think I’m starting to grasp your philosophy, I’m sitting here in my office dwelling on these people who signed up for personal training w/ me but I had to lower the price and drag them thru the sales process, they “semi-wanted” to do it but part of them training with me / buying I think was me “influencing them” to do it…now I am pissed because these people wont stick with the fitness programs…they just did a couple sessions and then gave up on me…stopped training, didnt buy more sessions. I think if I have to pull their arm to sign them up then I’m going to have to continually keep on pulling their arm the whole time they are a client and that takes way too much time and effort out of me, and its horribly annoying…they cancel appointments last minute on me their just not good clients, I think in the beginning i was just too desperate for clients and these ones didint want to buy the full package so i let them just buy smaller packages…because i didnt want to lose them altogether, i wanted something rather than nothing, but in the end i think i should have just thanked them for their time and sent them on their way saying “I dont think you can afford my training packages” and spent my efforts elsware…guess I kinda learned the hard way that pressure selling doesnt work in the long run, and its better to only work with people who really are serious and want the service I am offering.
Thx for your help!~
Emerald City Athletic Club
Sales is an adventure, it is a quest of conquest…it is never boring, always challenging, and I love the problem solving aspect of it as well, and how no 1 person is the same, it seems also that no 1 sale is the same…it keeps you challenged and sharp, I hate clocking in and clocking out at dead end jobs…I am a go getter and I want to be a mover and shaker and go places…I dont want to settle for a paycheck…to me thats dying to a part of yourself thats deep inside your heart, a passion for adventure and creating new oppurtunities…
How did it end up working out for you Pete? Did the change in methods prove to be worth while?