To Push or Not to Push

If someone is about to step in front of a speeding car, then pushing them out of the way will probably have a better outcome than asking them if they want to reconsider.

Asking a friend if they want to go for a walk with you will probably be more effective than saying, “You need to lose weight.”

People push each other all the time.  It’s simple and doesn’t take much thought.  Almost instinctive.  Sometimes, it’s the only thing that will work.  Most of the time though, there are alternatives to pushing, and sometimes those alternatives lead to better outcomes.

Pushing an object increases the probability that the object will move in the direction we are pushing it.  We can count on that.  It works on cattle and sheep as well.  However, people are a lot more complicated.  They don’t like being treated as a thing, or herded like sheep.  They often resist being pushed, even by very subtle methods.  The human paradox is that pushing can decrease the probability that a person will do what we are trying to get them to do.  That can be very frustrating.

To push, or not to push.  The only way to know what works better in any given situation, is to have a very clear picture in mind of what a good outcome looks like, and then to think realistically about how our actions will affect the probability of that kind of outcome.  Not just what we think should happen, but what the odds really are when we think about it.

To Push or Not to Push

What’s Important Now

So many things seemed so very important a few months ago.  Today, most of them are forgotten.

In a world where survival is threatened, is High Probability Selling still relevant?  Is it worth it for me to continue to teach this, and will it help in any way?

People still push each other around a lot, and when pushing doesn’t get them what they want, they push harder.  They’re too desperate to try anything new, and especially anything so radical and unknown as HPS.

The current COVID-19 crisis has brought out the extremes in people.  All around me, I see bravery and generosity, by individuals and by corporations.  The opposite extreme exists, but is not as important these days.

So what can I do?

One answer is to reach out to people, see how they are doing.  It’s a little thing, but it may help us all in this time of social isolation.  I’ve been practicing with the video conferencing platform Zoom.us, so that I can connect with more people at once.

You are all welcome to my next video chat, which will be this Friday, 17 April, at 3pm Eastern USA Time (same as New York).  If you want to join me, please email me at Ingalls@HighProbSell.com so that I can send you information on how to connect.  No charge.

Keep safe, and keep well.

Comments are welcome and appreciated.

What’s Important Now

What do High Probability Selling and improvisational acting have in common?

Some of the guidelines for improvisational acting have much in common and harmonize well with the mindset of High Probability Selling (HPS) and also with the Trust and Respect Inquiry (TRI) process.

I invite you to watch this TED video about improv:  Be An Improvisor.  Change the World.

Here’s a summary of the rules of improvisation found in the video, and how each relates to High Probability Selling:

1. MAKE A CONNECTION — We focus on who the other person is, what kind of decisions they make, how things usually turn out for them, and how they react.  The conversation is about the other person.  It’s not about us.

2. LISTEN — We listen in a special way because we want to learn and find out things.  The less we talk, the better we listen.  We listen to the other person without influencing them, so we get the deeper truth, and not just what we hope to hear.  We listen to what they say, we remember it, and we ask about that.

3. SAY “YES, And…” — It’s about accepting what another person just said or did, and then adding to it.  In HPS, we do this without agreeing or disagreeing.  We usually convey this by what we do, without saying those words out loud.  We add to the conversation by asking the other person to tell us more about what they said.

When we do use words to convey our acceptance without judgment, we might say something like, “Yes, I see” or “I hear you” or “OK”.  We keep our tone of voice neutral and calm.

As a magician who performs magic shows and magic entertainment, I avoid contradicting or arguing with an audience volunteer who I have invited onstage.

Instead, just like a jazz musician, I feed off the spectator’s and audience’s energy and steer it in a positive direction to enhance their magic experience.

4. BE IN THE MOMENT — The time to find out why a sale is not going to go through is early in the sales process, when you’re meeting with the prospect, rather than after having invested valuable time with someone who clearly disqualified themselves up front.  Discover it in the moment.  Then, you have the time to respond, and to choose your best course of action, whether to continue or walk away.

5. STAY FLEXIBLE — This is especially important with Inbound Prospecting.  Adapt to what the other person says and does.  In the TRI process, we give control of the topic to the other person, and we follow their lead.

6. AVOID PRECONCEIVED IDEAS — Never make any assumptions or presumptions or guesses about the other person’s background or story.  No leading questions, no questions that suggest an answer.  Ask open questions rather than closed ones, whenever possible.

7. RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE’S CHOICES — When a prospect says “no” to our prospecting offer, we respect that by saying, “Ok.  Bye now.”  And then we go away.  Accept without judging.  No comments.  No reactions.  Keep calm and neutral.  Don’t act surprised.

8. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE — It’s ok if you don’t feel like disqualifying a prospect just because of how they answered your disqualification questions.  Ask the questions anyway, and do what you feel like doing, without deciding in advance what the answers must be.  Gain the experience, and your inner voice will update itself.

9. FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION — Use it or lose it.  Practice will improve the accuracy of your intuition.  We rarely have enough data to make a purely logical decision.

Learning to listen, connect, and play like an improviser can make all the difference, whether selling a product, an idea, or ourselves.

 

What do High Probability Selling and improvisational acting have in common?

Frequent Repetition of the Same Sales and Marketing Messages

Salespeople and marketers use a lot of repetition when their intention is to persuade.  They push the same message over and over again, and very frequently.  It makes sense for them.

This does not fit with High Probability Selling.  When prospecting by phone, we use different offers, and we space them apart by 3 to 6 weeks.  This is one way that we demonstrate that we listen, and that we accept no for an answer.  Repeated and frequent messages would not demonstrate that.

So, what about prospecting by email?

The way a prospect says “no” to an offer can vary, depending on how the offer is delivered.  With a live, real-time conversation, we usually get an immediate answer.  With a delayed message (like email or voicemail), a prospect usually says no just by ignoring it and deleting it.  The salesperson often gets no feedback at all, and doesn’t know whether the prospect even saw the message.

When I apply the HPS mindset to leaving a prospecting offer as a message, I treat a No Response the same as an intentional No.  I wait a minimum of 3 weeks (usually longer) before reaching out to the same person again, and I make sure that future offers to that person are memorably different from past ones.  And, while continuing to follow HPS guidelines, I never mention the fact that I had sent any previous messages.


Comments and questions are very welcome.

Frequent Repetition of the Same Sales and Marketing Messages

Operating a Car vs Driving One – A Metaphor About Learning High Probability Selling

I learned how to drive on a tractor.  No, I take that back.  I learned how to operate a tractor on a farm, and from that, I learned how to operate a car.  That’s not the same as learning how to drive a car on roads that include other cars.

We lived at the end of a very long and narrow gravel driveway, and therefore the cars driving on the paved road at the other end of the driveway were not really visible.  Imagine if I had never seen anyone driving a car on a real road (nor ridden in one).  And further imagine that I believed that I knew how to drive, and was confident enough to take a car on the road.

To me, this scenario seems a bit like learning the how-to part of High Probability Selling (HPS), without learning the mindset of it.  The process without the understanding.

Jacques Werth preferred to teach HPS as a step-by-step process, a recipe or script.  He was very successful with a number of people.  For those people, understanding came after the doing.

However, focusing on the process as a recipe or script does not work at all for a lot of other people.  For some of them, it can create misconceptions about HPS.  Without the underlying understanding, many of them seem to have difficulties in remembering the details of the process correctly.

I prefer to focus more on the mindset of HPS and less on the process, both in my teachings of it and in my application.


I plan to offer a very short mini-course on the Mindset of HPS as a 39-minute webinar, sometime in January 2020.  It will appear on the HPS Google Calendar, and also as an announcement in this blog.

I also offer a 3-week workshop on the Mindset of HPS, which goes much deeper into the material.  Scheduling is based on demand.

Comments and questions are welcomed.

Operating a Car vs Driving One – A Metaphor About Learning High Probability Selling

“Convince Me” – What If a Prospect Wants to be Persuaded?

If someone asks you to tell them why they should buy what you are offering, you have a decision to make.  It’s time to decide if you want to do some persuasive selling, or not.

There are a number of reasons you might want to do this:

  • You might want to go back and try that other way of selling, just to remind yourself of what it tastes like.
  • You might be someone who loves persuading people, and you don’t get enough of that when doing High Probability Selling.  You just need to get it out of your system.
  • You really aren’t sure yet whether you want to do HPS or not, so you do what has worked well enough for you in the past.

If you decide that you do not want to get involved in convincing someone to buy, here is an example of what I would do, based on what I learned from Jacques Werth.

  • Prospect:  Convince me.
  • Me:  I’m not willing to do that.
  • Prospect:  Why not?
  • Me:  That’s not the way I work.
  • Me:  What do you want to do.

This article was prompted by a conversation I overheard recently in the HPS Private Discussion Group on Facebook.

Comments and questions on this post are very welcome.

“Convince Me” – What If a Prospect Wants to be Persuaded?

People Use the Telephone Differently Today, and How This Affects High Probability Selling

It used to be that people would pick up the phone just because it rang.  Today, people need more reason than that.

They need to know who’s calling and what it’s about.  And even if they do want to talk with that person, they will often choose to call back later, rather than interrupt what they are doing in that moment.

In the past, people were more concerned about missing something important on the phone.  It might be a friend in need, or it might be a new customer.

Today, a ringing phone is much more likely to be a nuisance call, and much less likely to be from someone we want to talk to.  If we don’t recognize the caller ID, we let the call go to the answering machine.  And, in many cases, we can hear the voice while it is being recorded, and we can pick up the phone if we decide we want to do so.

This is all bad news for people who use the telephone to make prospecting calls, and especially for those who make cold calls.

Even though the warm calling part of High Probability Selling gives salespeople an advantage over those who do only cold calling, we have still had to modify our methods.  Many of the details that worked 20 years ago don’t pay off well enough today.

Here are a few of the changes:

  • Prospecting offers are shorter and simpler.
  • We usually leave voice mail.
  • Marketing is even more important than before.
  • We handle more incoming calls.
  • We have less control of the conversation.
  • We use social media to reach out to people, and we sometimes use email.
  • We focus more on the principles and less on the process.
  • We use a special inquiry method for prospects who call us.

But most things remain the same.  We still take no for an answer.  We still work with, not around, the gatekeeper.  We still reach out again and again with different offers, at a frequency of 3 to 6 weeks.


For upcoming sales training events, please visit the High Probability Selling Calendar

People Use the Telephone Differently Today, and How This Affects High Probability Selling

Questions About High Probability Selling From Beginning Students

Here are some questions and comments submitted by students who were just beginning to learn High Probability Selling (HPS), plus responses provided by me (Carl Ingalls).

Syd:  The scenario is scripted and far from real life (in my experience).
Me:  Yes, it reads like a script.  And yes, the scenario is far from real life in most people’s experience.  Some people want that, and some do not.  Some people want something that is very different from their experience.  Others want something that fits in with what they have already learned.  High Probability Selling can seem strange and unrealistic to someone who is used to thinking of “selling” as something you do for the purpose of getting people to buy.

Syd:  Prospects do not have this much time to talk about their personal lives.
Me:  It depends on how you interact with them.

Magdalena:  What about “transferability” of the methods of HPS to situations where “selling” is not the main part of the job?
Me:  If you see “selling” as getting someone to buy from you, then HPS does not apply at all.  If you see “selling” in a much broader sense, where you include interactions where money is not involved, then HPS ideals and methods can be applied in almost every situation where you want to work with people.

James:  Have you any experience of a trained telemarketer doing this for the salesman or does it have to be done by the individual themselves?
Me:  Several companies use trained telemarketers to find high probability prospects, and make appointments that salespeople go on.  It can work very well when the prospector and the salesperson use compatible methods.  It can also work quite terribly when they don’t.

Jimmy:  I have to talk to Managers, Engineers and Supervisors in the Mechanical Maintenance Department.  How do I get their names?
Me:  If you “have to” do this because it is a necessary part of the sales process you use, and it is not working well enough, then a different sales process may work better for you.

Jimmy:  Salesmen are usually “yesmen”.  What happens when the prospects are asked tough questions; it could be something new to them?
Me:  There are a lot of yes-men, and they don’t get much respect.  Salespeople who act with self-respect do.  This can be a novel experience for a prospect.  Very few will comment on it, especially if done in a neutral, matter-of-fact manner.  If they try to “test” you, they might say something.

Jimmy:  What to do, if the answer to any question is No or Evasive during the process.  Do you walk away if the answer is an not an emphatic Yes?
Me:  It depends on the question, and where in the process.  If they say “no” to the prospecting offer, then we say, “Ok. … Goodbye”, and call them some other time.  If the “No” means that the prospect is not a High Probability Prospect, then we walk away (for now).  When we can’t tell, we find out by asking very direct questions.  Continued evasiveness is also a pretty clear signal that it’s time to leave.  If we do not get a “Yes” to the important questions, we walk away.  However, we teach our students to go light on the disqualification until they get more experience, but always ask the questions.

David:  What’s the definitive answer to dealing with leaving voicemails?
Me:  Leave a voicemail whenever possible, and make it very short.  Include a call-back number.  If you do get a return call, treat it like an inbound prospecting call.

David:  What if the prospect asks for further information via email before deciding if it is something they want?
Me:  If requested, send information by email.  Make sure that you have composed the email in advance, and that it was created specifically to go with that prospecting offer.  Don’t try to get away with a general pitch.

David:  What could be some red flags?
Me:  There are several.  Voicemail must be very short, probably shorter than the prospecting offer itself.  If you send an email, never ever mention the fact that you did so, unless the recipient brings it up first.

Michael:  Regarding “your procedure for a purchase order” if I am meeting with a married couple at their home, should I rephrase the question for individuals and not a company?
Me:  Each of the questions in the Discovery Disqualification list can (and should) be reworded so that they apply to the specific prospect you are talking with.

Michael:  Should I ask for the client’s list of conditions of satisfaction after question 13 and before question 14?
Me:  We never ask the potential client to give us a list of their Conditions of Satisfaction.  They probably could not put them all into words.  That’s why we use that phrase.  It is a lot more than just a list of known requirements.


You are welcome to ask more questions about HPS, and I will do my best to answer.

Questions About High Probability Selling From Beginning Students

Does High Probability Selling Work?

It depends on how you ask the question.  Here are some examples:

Does High Probability Selling (HPS) work for everyone?
No, definitely not.  It does not work for every individual, and it does not work in every situation.

Does HPS work for some people?
Yes, it does.  Extremely well in some cases.

Does HPS work for most people?
Probably not, and especially when we attempt to use the same methods to teach everyone.

Will HPS work for me?
Maybe yes, maybe no.  But this is probably the most important question for all of us, and the most difficult to answer.  Will it work for me, and also –

How can I find out?
We can’t answer that question with certainty, but we are getting better at estimating the odds.  We look for similarities in people who have been successful with HPS, and in people who have not.

Jacques Werth was most successful with people who had decided to try HPS out completely and precisely the way he taught it, and worry about understanding the why later (if at all).  His teaching methods were much less successful with people who were still trying to decide if they were going to do it or not.  He believed that all failures to succeed with HPS were due to not completely following the process, changing or omitting something important.

Today, we focus more on the Mindset of High Probability Selling.  This approach seems to work better for people who need to understand HPS more before they are ready to try it out.  Also, a person’s current mindset is an indicator of what kind of hurdles they will need to get over in order to be successful with HPS.


There are several related articles on this blog.

Comments are welcome.

Does High Probability Selling Work?

Beyond the Sale – A Consultant’s Story

For some people, closing the sale is the only thing that matters.  But for many of us, what happens after the sale is even more important in the long run.

A consultant’s success goes beyond getting paid to give advice.  If the client does not take the consultant’s advice, the client won’t get any value from it.  And if they don’t get any value, they are not likely to hire the consultant again.

Before I started learning about High Probability Selling, I always thought that I needed to work harder to convince my clients to accept my advice.  Stronger arguments, presented more enthusiastically.  But it didn’t always work, and that concerned me.

And then, as I learned more about the principles behind HPS, I asked myself, “What if I delivered my ideas with less push instead of more?  What if I presented them more objectively, more balanced, with both the negatives and the positives?  What if I didn’t try to tell my client what to do, but rather make it completely their decision?”

Ultimately, I am selling my ideas, and I need my clients to buy into them.  It’s a sale beyond the sale.  It’s not about money, because they’ve already agreed to pay me to tell them what to do.

So how do I use High Probability Selling to do this sale beyond the sale?  How do I deliver my advice?

I studied the process that Jacques Werth calls the Conditions of Satisfaction (in the book, High Probability Selling) and I adapted the principles behind it to deliver the details of consulting advice.  In place of the list of Features, I used a very complete list of choices that the client could take.  For each choice, I gave my opinions about the benefits and detriments (based only on my experience and judgment), and I also asked others to contribute their own opinions about outcomes.  I usually wrote this all down on a whiteboard or flip-chart.  And then, at the end, I asked the HPS Closing Question:  “What do you want to do?”

No matter what they choose, I win (and so do they).

 

Beyond the Sale – A Consultant’s Story