High Probability Prospecting Questions from a Reader

I recently received an email with some questions about High Probability Prospecting.  The email appears below (in blue), with permission from the author, and my answers are included (in black and italics) after each question.

Hi Carl,

Thanks for teaching the methods of High Probability Prospecting and High Probability Selling. I was really excited when I read the blog, because I found an honest, respectful and profitable way of selling. Hence, I bought the book and 2 mp3 (Selling Financial Services and Chp 12 explained)

I have a few questions after listening though.

  1. How many times should we call a prospect before we move on? In Selling Financial Services, Jacques said that he once called a company 27 times before he got their business. Is there an optimum number of times to call, or should we just keep calling them forever? (assuming they do not ask us to stop calling them)
    My answer:  As long as they keep answering the phone and listening to your offers, call them forever, even if they always say no.  If you leave an offer by voicemail, and you do not get a call back, then treat that the same as if they said no.  If they ask you to stop calling, then stop.
  2. If the prospect do not pick up the phone, do we call them again in the same month until they pick up, or do we call them the next month?
    My answer:  If no one answers, not even voicemail, then call again as soon as you finish your list, even if it is the same day.  Try different times of day, and different days of the week.  If you continue to get no answer at all (not even voicemail), then reduce your frequency of calling that number, from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to a couple of months and eventually never.  Remember that it is more profitable to call someone who always says no, than it is to call someone who never hears your offer.
  3. How many numbers should I be calling? Assuming I prospect 3 hours a day, as recommended in the blog. Also, do I change to a fresh list of numbers to call every year, every 2 years etc?
    My answer:  We recommend that you start with a list of 500 numbers, and then add numbers as needed.  Do not remove anyone from your list just because time has gone by.  A “fresh” list is not as valuable as your list of people who continue to listen to your offers, even when they say no every time.

Anyway, I realised I asked a lot of questions which might be in your training course. Hence, if you could just answer the first question, I would be very grateful. Thank you for your help.

Best regards
{name withheld on request}

Workshops in August 2018:
Connecting on Tue 14 Aug, 3 sessions for $255
Chapter 12 Explained & Updated on Thu 16 Aug, 1 session for $95

Comments and questions are welcome.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

13 thoughts on “High Probability Prospecting Questions from a Reader”

  1. Hi Carl, thanks for the new article. I do have a few questions that popped up, while reading the post.

    For a list of 500 numbers, what is the percentage of the list that ends up as a customer eventually, according to your experiences or statistics after:

    1. 6 months of calling

    2. 1 year of calling

    3. 2 years of calling


    1. Hello 1984,

      The percentages vary quite widely, from 0% to 100%, and depend on a number of factors. Here’s a partial list.

      1. What you are selling.
      2. Who you are selling to.
      3. Quality of your list (number of errors, how well it matches your target market).
      4. The number of calls you make, and when.
      5. What you say on the phone, and to whom.
      6. How you say it.
      7. How careful you are.
      8. Trust.

      Happy Prospecting,
      Carl Ingalls


  2. What happens when the prospect cuts you off halfway throughout the offer, without letting you finish saying the whole offer? Do you let him cut you off, and you say “Ok, goodbye”, or do you try to finish saying out the whole offer?


    1. Hello 1984,

      When a prospect cuts us off, we listen. We find out where they are coming from, by listening to what they say. For instance, a prospect might be very busy and doesn’t want to spend any time with you right now. That’s a Not Now. Or, they might cut you off because they already know that they do not want what you are offering. That’s a No, which means the same as Not Now to us. Another possibility is that they already know that they DO want what you are selling, and want to get on with it.

      It is worthwhile paying attention to when the prospect cuts you off. Is it right after you say your name, or what company you represent? Is it right after they hear what it is that you are selling (and before you mention any features)? Is it after you ask if this is something they want?

      There is almost always a message in what they do. Learn to listen for it. Other salespeople won’t.

      Carl Ingalls


      1. Hi Carl, more questions from me after I read your answers to this comment.

        I get cut off in 4 specific instances.

        1. 25% of the time I get cut off after I mentioned my name and company. Sometimes, (about 10%) the prospects cut me off immediately. Other times, they say they are not interested during the 1 or 2 second pause that I give them, after I mentioned my company. The pause is for them to acknowledge me, and to let them process what they have just heard. Should I just forgo their acknowledgement and go into the rest of my offer?

        2. 15% of the time I get cut off after I mentioned what I am selling. Another 10% I get cut off somewhere around my 1st and 2nd feature.

        3. 25% of the time I get to finish saying everything, and ask them “is this what you want?”

        4. 25% of the time though, the prospects would say something like “erhmmm..” or “ahhhh” at any time during the offer, and then I would stop what I am saying. They would then say something along the lines of “I’m not interested”. I felt that I could have finish saying my offer, but is that something I should be doing, or should I just let them go once I hear possible signs of disinterest?


        1. Hello 1984,

          Never try to give an offer to someone who doesn’t want to hear it.

          When someone interrupts you from talking, it may mean they want you to stop talking so they can say something. When that happens, stop talking and start listening. Do not proceed with your offer unless you know they want to hear it. If you are not 100% certain, ask. “Do you want to hear my offer.”

          When the interruption is just a simple acknowledgement, like uh huh or okay, we take that as permission to proceed with the offer.

          However, when someone says they are not interested, it means no, and it also means they do not want to hear any more of your offer. Move on.

          Carl Ingalls


  3. What if the prospect says “call me back after 7pm” or “call me back in an hour”? My experience has been that they normally don’t pick up the phone when I call them back at that time.

    Thank you for answering all my questions.


    1. Hello again 1984,

      Some people say an hour when they really mean two. Some people think they will be done with what they are doing by 7pm, but are never done on time. Some people don’t want to say no, because they know it will just lead to another long argument from a salesperson who is trained to never take no for an answer. In all of these cases, it’s just another Not Now for us.

      In HPS, we always accept no for an answer, and we never question it. After you’ve called the same person several times (over several months), they will realize that “No” is a perfectly acceptable answer for you, and are more likely to be honest with you.

      Thank you for your questions.
      Carl Ingalls


  4. In terms of the “factors” you posted above, 3. Quality of list: When I spoke with Jacques in 2015, and it states it in the “Getting Over Your Fears” audio, HPS teaches to have a very good, targeted phone list. I’m selling health insurance, which everybody needs at some point in their life. How would you suggest I narrow my search, or target my prospects? The agency I work for has business lists available to me that can be narrowed down by number of employees, business type and zip code. But how would I know if one business owner needs health insurance over the other? Is there a different way I should look at this?


    1. Hello Johnny,

      Yes, there is a different way that you can look at this, if you choose to.

      You can replace the word “should” with the word “can,” and you can replace the word “need” with the word “want.” This will change the way you think about and interact with people, and especially prospects. And that will get you closer to High Probability Selling.

      Happy Prospecting,
      Carl Ingalls


  5. I appreciate your speedy response. I apologize for my delayed response. I admire your linguistics, and stressing the importance of its usage.
    My question rewritten with your guidance: “How would I know if a business owner wants health insurance? Is there a different way I can look at this?”
    Your response was helpful to understand/remember that I am prospecting for people who “want” my offer/product. That is clear now.
    In the book, Sue’s offer is “We manufacture self-contained, four color display packaging, which is shipped flat and is easy to assemble.” There is a very specific and identifiable prospect for that offer.
    I’m still struggling with narrowing down/creating a targeted list of prospects for the offer of health insurance.

    An online search turned up these two valuable resources:

    Click to access High_Probability_articles.pdf

    After studying these resources, I think here lies a (partial) solution to my question: Find out the demographics of the highest
    probability prospects – data on average customers and profiles of the largest customers. …. These demographics are profiles of your High Probability Prospects.


    1. Hello Influxins (Johnny),

      You answered your own question fairly well, regarding the “How would I know” question. Remember the “Probability” in High Probability Selling. We never really “know” for certain what someone wants. Even if they say “Yes” when we ask them, we ask why. Constantly evaluating the odds.

      Happy Prospecting
      Carl Ingalls

      Liked by 1 person

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