When Is a Sale Considered Lost?

by Paul Bunn

A student recently asked us what they should do with a list of “lost deals”.  And at what point is a deal or sale “lost”?  In their case, a lost deal equated to a person who didn’t purchase what the student was selling, in the timeframe the student wanted them to buy.

This inquiry got me thinking about one of the fundamental parts of High Probability Selling that is often overlooked; the words and language we use casually that either enhances or detracts from an effective HPS mindset.  Discerning this fundamental part requires listening to ourselves, specifically the words we choose.

My thinking and intuitive feel on the subject of a lost sale, is that a real loss only occurs if that person at that company says they never want to hear from you again.  Everyone else who doesn’t want your service now falls into “not now”.

And although we commonly use “lost” in our sales language, there is really no such thing.  You can only lose something you actually had in your possession in the first place. 

And quite clearly, although our long-conditioned sales brain may initially say otherwise, when a person says “not now” it’s obviously not about losing a sale that we had in our possession.  A sale we had in our imagination, a sale that existed in our mental map of the future perhaps, but an actual completed transaction?  I think not.

Back in prehistoric days (the late 1900’s), I would drive past a McDonald’s and the sign would say over 10 million sold.  The sign did not say that 50 million drove past a McDonald’s that century and never stopped.

What they paid attention to, and yes I used to work at McDonald’s, was the interaction with those people who stopped and bought a burger or two and some fries and a coke.  A Quarter Pounder that nobody purchased was not a lost sale.  It’s only part of an ongoing equation.

Another consideration is that sales is a person to person activity.  Companies and businesses and organizations don’t buy anything.  People are the ones who buy, or make the sale.  And they do it for their own reasons in their own time.  The goal of a High Probability Salesperson is to be in communication with them as close as possible to whenever their reasons align with the outcomes that our products or services provide, during the timeframe in which they are ready to buy.

So, at what point is a sale considered “Lost”?  So infrequently, we never really measure them.

And what do we do with a list of “lost” deals?  Continue prospecting to them like anyone else on your list.

Workshop on the Trust and Respect Inquiry (TRI), 3 Sessions, Starting Thu 22 Sep 2022

This what we do in High Probability Selling (HPS) in place of building rapport or creating a relationship. You can read more on the HPS website, at https://www.highprobsell.com/workshops/tri1/

This sales training workshop is 3 sessions, about 2 hours each, spaced 1 week apart. It is conducted as a live video meeting on Zoom, led by Carl Ingalls. It includes demonstrations and exercises. The meeting will be recorded, and the recording will be made available to the participants.

The total price is $382 USD per person.

If you want to take this course, please contact Carl Ingalls. Phone +1-610-627-9030 or email Ingalls@HighProbSell.com.

See the High Probability Selling Calendar for an updated schedule.


How Often Should You Call?

First, get rid of the word “should”.  High Probability Selling is something you choose to do, not something you are supposed to do.

Jacques Werth recommended 3 to 4 weeks between prospecting calls to each individual on the list.  Today, I recommend a 3 to 6 week spacing between calls to the same person.

The main advantage for the longer spacing is flexibility for the salesperson making the calls, and especially if they have a long list.  Also, it may be less irritating for the prospect, and they may be less likely to tell you not to call them again.

The main disadvantage of the longer spacing is that it will take longer to deliver multiple prospecting offers to each recipient, and we know that the probability of a sale increases with the number of offers presented.  Second, calling less frequently means that the prospect is less likely to maintain that “front of mind awareness” of what the salesperson offers.  Third, it increases the chances that another salesperson will be in contact with the prospect when they are ready to buy.

Remember.  It’s not a should.  It’s a choice.

Features, Benefits, Detriments

In High Probability Selling (HPS), we sell on features, not benefits.

In most other selling methods, it’s the other way around, and that makes sense.

If your job is to get people to buy from you, benefits are a lot more persuasive than features. Benefits are like bait on the hook.

If your job is to find and identify people who want to buy what you are offering, for their own reasons (without being persuaded), then features work better than benefits. No bait.

So what is the difference between features and benefits? According to Unbounce Academy, “A feature is a part of your product or service, while a benefit is the positive impact it has on your customer.”

I like to clarify that a bit further with some of my own thinking, based on what I learned from working with Jacques Werth and Paul Bunn and others.

A feature is concrete, definite, certain, and immediate. It comes with the product or service and may be an integral part of it.

A benefit is a potential positive outcome for the buyer. If that positive outcome were definite and certain, then it would be a guarantee, which is a feature, not a benefit. Also, the benefit might occur later, and it might be abstract or subjective.

In HPS, we also talk about detriments, which are potential negative outcomes for the buyer. We make certain that the prospect is clear on each of these before we proceed with the sale.

Features, benefits, and detriments all come together during the closing part of the sale, when we are going over the details of the prospect’s Conditions of Satisfaction.

Why are some people unwilling or unable to do High Probability Selling?

I think I have a couple of answers. 

  1. High Probability Selling (HPS) is scary, and more so for some people than others.  It’s easy to imagine a lot of things going horribly wrong, and those fears don’t go away until you actually do it.  I experienced that for a while, until I finally did the full Trust and Respect Inquiry (TRI) all the way through Level 3, and outside of a training situation. 
  2. Habits need to be changed, and especially in the way we interact with other people.  Some students don’t seem to be able to do this, and they keep on acting in ways that don’t work with HPS. 
  3. Change is uncomfortable. 
  4. Resistance to being pushed is a common reflex in a lot of people.  Trying to convince a student that they should do things in a different way can be counterproductive. 
  5. Some people believe that they need to be convinced before they are willing to try HPS.  They live in a world of persuasion, and it is particularly difficult for them to let go of that when selling to other people. 
  6. Small steps toward HPS can have very negative results, depending on what path you take.  A path of continuous improvement is difficult to find.  So much has to come together all at once, and this can be very discouraging. 

I’d love to hear ideas from readers and practitioners of High Probability Selling.

Schedule 2022-04: High Probability Selling Events for April 2020

Sales training courses on High Probability Prospecting and on the High Probability Mindset. Also, an open (free) discussion on Zoom where we talk about High Probability Selling.

See the High Probability Selling Calendar for an updated schedule.


Prospecting Basics Mini-Course: Wed 13 April – 45 Minutes of Zoom for $45 USD

Introduction to High Probability Prospecting, Updated.

Suitable for beginners who have read the book at least once, and also for previous students who want a refresher or an update on HPS Prospecting.

Introduction to the following topics:

  • The basics of how we find people who are likely to do business with us.
  • The basics of how to design a High Probability Prospecting Offer.
  • Reaching out to likely prospects.
  • Delivering an offer.
  • Handling responses.
  • Inbound prospecting.
  • Screening.
  • Setting an appointment.
  • Asking the Conditional Commitment Question.

Date and Time: Wednesday 13 April 2022, from 11:00am to 11:45am, USA Eastern Time. One session, 45 minutes.

Presented as an interactive video conference on Zoom, led by Carl Ingalls. Questions will be answered if we have time. Includes a workbook, plus a video recording of the session.

To sign up and pay for this mini-course, do one of the following


Prospecting Workshop, Instruction and Coaching – 1 Session, 2 Hrs, $145 USD: Fri 15 April

A combination of virtual class instruction and individual coaching. More advanced and more detailed than the Prospecting Basics Mini-Course (see above). For intermediate or advanced students.

Presented as a continuing series of live and interactive video conferences on Zoom, led by Carl Ingalls. Includes a workbook, plus a video recording of the session.

Frequency — Will be repeated approximately once or twice a month or two, depending on demand.

Topics — Will take 6 to 10 sessions to cover all of these in sufficient depth:

  • Creating and delivering High Probability Prospecting Offers.  Includes coaching and advice for individual prospecting offers.
  • Using telephone (live), voicemail, text, email, social media. 
  • Tracking efforts and results. 
  • How to handle responses (yes, no, other). 
  • Appointment setting. 
  • Conditional Commitment. 
  • Inbound Prospecting (when someone reaches out to us).

Date and Time: Friday 15 April 2022, from 11:00am to 1:00pm, USA Eastern Time. One session, about 2 hours long.

Price is $145 USD per participant when purchasing 1 session at a time. See below for prices when purchasing more than 1.

If you are certain that you want to take this workshop on prospecting, you may sign up and pay by doing any of the following:

If you are not sure whether you want to take this workshop or not, please visit the Prospecting Webpage or contact Carl Ingalls.


Let’s Talk About High Probability Selling – a Free Discussion on Zoom, Wed 20 Apr at 2:30pm ET

An open conversation about High Probability Selling, on Zoom. Questions and answers.

All are invited, as long as they have a genuine interest in High Probability Selling.

If you want to join, please contact Carl Ingalls. Phone +1 610-627-9030. Text +1 484-464-2557. Email info@HighProbSell.com. Or use this webform.

What If They Complain About the Price?

Suppose you sold an expensive dining room set for $3000, and suppose the customer calls you later and says that their cousin’s neighbor’s sister got exactly the same set for $700 less.

What do you do?

General Rule: Listen more and talk less. Ask questions that get the other person to talk. Don’t argue. Don’t explain or justify yourself any more than is necessary. Don’t try to change the customer’s mind about anything. Let the customer talk more than you do. 

The best thing for you to start with is to say, “Ok.  What do you want to do?”  Say it in a neutral tone, with a downward intonation at the end, and don’t rush it. Pause a bit after saying ok and before you ask what they want to do. Then listen.

Here is a list of some of the things that a customer might say to your question about what they want to do, and how you can reply.

  • Cust:  “I want you to give me $700 back.”
    You:   “That won’t work for me.  You can return the dining room set and receive a full refund of the purchase price, not including the delivery charges.  Or you can keep the set. What do you want to do?”
  • Cust:  “Why did you charge me $3000?”
    You:  “That’s what I sell it for.”
  • Cust:  “Why did someone else get it for so much less?”
    You:  “I don’t know.  You could ask them.”
  • Cust:  “I think it’s really unfair that I had to pay that much when someone else got it for less.”
    You:   “Ok.  What do you want to do?”
  • Cust:  “I want my money back.”
    You:   “Ok.  You can get a full refund of the purchase price of the dining room set, but not of the delivery charges.  Do you want to go ahead with that?”

The above is one example of how a practitioner of High Probability Selling might handle a situation like this, when following the Mindset of HPS.

Questions, comments, and ideas from readers are very welcome.

Schedule 2022-03: March 2022 Sales Training

See the High Probability Selling Calendar for an updated schedule.


Wed 23 Mar:  Essence of High Probability Selling Workshop

This workshop is a summary of all parts of High Probability Selling — process and mindset, with updates. Suitable as a refresher course, and also suitable for beginners who have read the book at least once. Includes a workbook, plus a video recording of the session sent to all participants.

Date and Time: Wednesday 23 March 2022, from 11:00am to 1:00pm, USA Eastern Time. One session, about 2 hours long.

Presented as an interactive video conference on Zoom, led by Carl Ingalls.

Price is $142 USD per participant. 

Enroll and Purchase: If you want to take this workshop, you can sign up here:
https://high-probability-selling.myshopify.com/cart/39310700675132:1?channel=buy_button

For more info on the Essence of High Probability Selling Workshop, see www.highprobsell.com/workshops/essence/


Wed 25 Mar:  “A Complete High Probability Sale” – Chapter 12 Explained

This workshop is a review and interactive discussion of the last chapter of the book, High Probability Selling by Jacques Werth and Nicholas Ruben.  That chapter shows what “A Complete High Probability Sale” looks like, but does not explain it.  Some people want a step-by-step explanation of what is happening there, with the opportunity to ask questions.  This workshop provides that.  We also discuss some of the details in the process that have been updated since the book was written.

Date and Time: Friday 25 March 2022, from 11:00am to 1:00pm, USA Eastern Time. One session, about 2 hours long.

Presented as an interactive video conference on Zoom, led by Carl Ingalls.

Price is $142 USD per participant. 

Enroll and Purchase: If you want to take this workshop, you can sign up here:
https://high-probability-selling.myshopify.com/cart/23956234499:1?channel=buy_button

For more info on the “A Complete High Probability Sale” Workshop, see www.highprobsell.com/workshops/chapt12/


Thu 31 Mar:  Prospecting

A combination of virtual class instruction and individual coaching on Zoom, led by Carl Ingalls.

High Probability Prospecting — How we find and identify people who want what we are selling, and who are ready and able to buy.  This is a detailed process of how to contact people (reaching out), and how to respond to people who contact us.

Topics — Creating and delivering High Probability Prospecting Offers.  Telephone (live), voicemail, text, email, social media.  Tracking efforts and results.  How to handle responses (yes, no, other).  Appointment setting.  Conditional Commitment.  Inbound Prospecting.

Date and Time — Thursday 31 March 2022, starting at 1pm USA Eastern Time. Duration is 2 to 3 hours, depending on the number of participants and how many questions.

Recorded — a video recording of the session will be sent to participants.

Price is $145 USD per participant.  Discounted pricing is available when purchasing 2 or more sessions at a time.

Approval — is required for this workshop. Please contact Carl Ingalls: phone +1 610-627-9030 or email info@highprobsell.com.

For more info on this Prospecting Workshop, see www.highprobsell.com/workshops/prospecting/

If someone says, “Why are you asking me all of these personal questions?”

How do you respond?

First, this almost never happens.  If you are being authentic and sincere, the person you are interviewing will rarely question your motives.

However, students of High Probability Selling worry about lots of things that almost never happen, and they need to have these “what-if” concerns answered before they can move ahead.

Here are two responses that are highly consistent with the principles and attitudes of High Probability Selling.

“I’m learning a new way of getting to know people.”

“This is how I get to know people.”

Do not say, “I’m just curious” or anything else that trivializes what you are doing.


Asking personal questions is what we do in the Trust and Respect Inquiry, which is one of the more advanced discovery tools of High Probability Selling.

This process is described in the book, High Probability Selling, in the chapter titled “Establishing a Relationship”.  For more on this topic, see earlier blog article, “Establishing a Relationship – Revisited

Comments and questions are welcome

Convince Me

What do you do when a prospect asks you to explain to them why they should buy from you?

If you follow a non-persuasive sales method like High Probability Selling, you would avoid getting drawn into that kind of a conversation.

Jacques Werth taught his students to say, “I’m not here to convince you,” and then get right back to the question of whether the prospect wants what is being offered, or not.  He might also say something like, “That’s not the way I work.

However, if the prospect has already said that they want the sort of thing you are offering, then it might be better to respond with the question, “What matters to you?”  And then, only address the things that matter to the prospect.  Keep it short and simple.  You either provide those things, or you don’t.

And then you ask, “What do you want to do?

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