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.

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.

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?

No Magic Sales Closing Techniques – Just a Proven Selling System that Produces Dramatic Results

written by Jacques Werth in about 2006, and posted here by Carl Ingalls

High Probability Selling is a structured, linear, step-by-step sales process. At each step along the way, you, the salesperson, and the prospect both have the option of saying “Yes” or “No”. Prospects close themselves each time they agree to move forward in the sales process.

The Story Behind the Process

The High Probability Selling Process is based upon extensive research of the top 312 performers across 23 industries. They were an elite group—part of the top 1% in their respective industries—who typically out-produced the top 20 percent in their industry by a factor of 3 or 4. Over a period of forty years, Jacques Werth went out on sales calls with top performers, observing and recording everything they did.

The discovery? These sales stars had intuitively created a totally new selling system. They didn’t realize it was a different system. Jacques Werth did. He collected the data, analyzed it, and put it together in this simple yet powerful system—High Probability Selling.

Top performers are the best in the business. They know the difference between a true prospect and one who is merely ‘interested’ – and will hardly ever buy. They know that preparing elaborate proposals is usually a waste of time. They know that the only prospects worth their time are High Probability Prospects: Prospects who want, need, can afford your products and services, and are willing to buy—now.

Stop Wasting Time!

The most common mistake made by salespeople is that they waste time trying to manipulate, persuade and convince prospects to buy. A lot of time and energy is devoted to activities that will inevitably lead to nothing.

Learn to Focus Your Sales Efforts on Truly Qualified Prospects.

In High Probability Sales Training, we teach you selling skills that are proven and effective. We train you to close more sales by negotiating a series of mutual agreements – beginning with the setting of the very first appointment. We train you to consummate sales with dignity and professionalism – without stress or pressure.

High Probability Selling trains you to close more sales, enjoy selling more, and to earn more money—without compromising your ethics. Is that what you want? If it is, enroll in a HPS sales training course.


Note from Carl Ingalls, on 8 Feb 2022. I copied the above text from a webpage that Jacques Werth had created in about 2006. It is typical of the persuasive style he used when marketing (but never when selling). I prefer to use non-persuasive language in my own marketing efforts, because that is more consistent with what we do and teach in High Probability Selling, and also because I believe it is best to make marketing and selling more consistent with each other. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Conversation with a Long-Time Student of High Probability Selling

Jon Williams reached out to me (Carl Ingalls) on Facebook Messenger recently, with some questions about the application of High Probability Selling.

I am posting our conversation here with some minor editing, and with permission.


Jon: I wanted to ask you, have you ever been asked about how to sell things that aren’t as straight forward as a product per se. Like artwork, finery items like collectors stuff?

I heard this marketers take on it and she said you’ve got to look at what people want and “need” (manufacturing the need because they want it) and focus on that rather than the literal item.

I was thinking more about this and thought that’s definitely a decent start and to think about what the collectors want, the history of the piece or collection (as a feature), etc.


Carl: I have had several people inquire about selling something that is not very tangible. HPS is one example of that. I have also been asked about selling art. Collector’s items are fairly straightforward, at least on the selling side.


Jon: Gotcha. Ya I’ve always wondered about strictly non-tangibles.


Carl: If you see your job as one of influencing someone to buy, then HPS methods do not apply at all. The marketer person you mentioned recommends methods that are consistent with that. You really have to pick one or the other. If you flip back and forth [between influencing and not influencing], people won’t trust you.


Jon: Influencing or making offers based on what they want?

That’s what I took away from it as far as what they were saying. She walked us through her thinking and then applied that back to her style which I agree can certainly come off more “getting this or that” vs discovery.


Carl: If the people you reach out to do not have a clear picture of what you are offering, you need to have a good marketing system in place that educates them. Don’t try to do it during one-on-one selling. Extremely inefficient and unrewarding.


Jon: From what I’ve learned in marketing, it applies to everything, which is, truly know your audience and get real feedback from their perspective, the good the bad and the ugly.

If we have this and don’t add to it, then it becomes easier to “make offers”. 🙂


Carl: Making an offer based on what the other person wants is perfectly consistent with HPS, and is not an attempt to influence their decision.


Jon: Ya that’s what I focus on too 🙂

We’ve all had about enough of the internet hype and all this pressure to sell based on their need.

What about empathy?

Do we actually care about the human on the other side? Or are they just another dollar with a pulse?

That’s been made clear via high prob and very verrry few sales training does this well or at all. (Marketing training seems even worse because it’s so removed from the one-on-one)


Carl: In classical HPS outbound prospecting (one-on-one), we normally do not know what the individual wants. We may know something about the probabilities, based on the demographics used when purchasing a list. And the most efficient way of finding out if they want what we are offering is simply to ask them directly. The more specific [the offer], the better.

With the newer HPS Inbound prospecting (where a prospect reaches out to the salesperson), we listen to find out what they want, and we decide if we want to offer something based on that.


Jon: I do hear the better ones saying this method where they do interviews with their existing customers or clients, not to sell them anything new but to gain understanding from their perspective.

I do love this method of listening to them and going from there.

I think you shared this once, that when we start listening we may find they have a completely different want than what we thought at the beginning.


Carl: Some people call that marketing research [doing interviews with existing customers].

Most of the time, I’m a one-man operation. This means that I fill all of the roles. Market research, marketing, prospecting, selling, fulfillment, office manager, etc.


Jon: How have you found that to work for you?

I’m the same way. I only want about 2-3 really solid clients when I get there.


Carl: I like the variety of roles, a lot. However, going solo is a very lonely job, and I do have trouble with that.


Jon: Ya, I’ve heard that too, about the lonely part. For now I don’t mind but it may change later, lol


Carl: I’m looking forward to doing a 3-session workshop on the TRI, starting this Tuesday 11 Jan. That’s real connection with real people, and teaching them how to do it too. Of course, you already know about that.

By the way, I’d like to put our conversation on the HPS Blog. May I have your permission to do that? I’ll probably use just our first names. Any thoughts?

Probably some minor editing. I’ll send you a copy to review first.

This is an example of one-to-many marketing that educates.


Jon: Ya that’s perfectly acceptable with me. Thanks for asking ☺️


Carl: You are very welcome. And I really appreciate the thoughtful conversation.


Jon: Yes it’s helped me understand the differences too and to get clear myself.


Questions and comments on this blog are very welcome.

Phone Phobia

The following is from a student of High Probability Selling (HPS) who calls himself Francesco the Salesman, and is published here with permission. I have done some minor editing.

Right now my BIGGEST challenge is to get into the damn phone.

I have the fear of God when it comes to using the phone.

It is AMAZING how much I can procrastinate to get into the phone!

I find EVERYTHING to do before getting on the dreaded phone.

It is funny and strange, because I have no problem at all in meeting people COLD in person, nor girls, I can even be in front of an audience of 200 people completely comfortable and with the calm of a Zen monk!

But when it gets to the phone, I start sweating cold, panic and procrastinate like there is no tomorrow.

I know that, in the end, all comes down to de-sensitization through exposure and repetition, but damn is hard to get into it to begin with.

I feel reluctance to the phone itself, besides the cold calling.

Actually I think that more than the actual cold calls, it is the phone that is my problem.

I usually try to avoid making phone calls all together.

If I can do it in person, text or email, I will usually lean over those options first and avoid or procrastinate on making a phone call.

And when I do make a phone call I sometimes get quite nervous and do not like that feeling much.

It is like a phone phobia.

It is quite limiting as you can imagine.

I remember reading something in the book “The psychology of sales call reluctance” that mentioned that usually call reluctance stems from an early childhood trauma for which one with my “first love” girl in high school immediately comes to my mind.

She was a very attractive girl (amazing legs) back in high school and the first girl I got DEEPLY excited for ever in my life (I switched from an all guys school to a mixed one) in both sexually and romantically interest and illusion.

Unfortunately she was EXTREMELY mean and nasty with me (in general too though) and she caused me quite a severe pain, especially on my first very few calling attempts to her.

Even my father teases my phone phobia saying that “Anna (the little vixen) really screwed you up to use the phone forever!”

So my problem is not as much in warming up to calling but to BEGIN calling in the first place.

In reflecting for a solution, I concluded that again a process of de-sensitization through repetition would be the best course of action, for which I was planning on setting a goal of making a certain number of phone calls every day (say 10) as a habit building exercise starting small and then ramping up the number of calls as I got more confident.

That is the idea I am currently playing with and reflecting upon.

My number one priority in my life right now is to get this “being able to make phone calls comfortably and confidently every time I want” thing down and solved, because it is a tremendous peril and HUGE limit both financially and socially and I just HAVE to get this dumb thing solved.

Francesco the Salesman

The text above is copied from emails received in late October 2018.

Judging

We try not to judge, but it’s a difficult habit to break.  Sometimes we do it without intending to.  Sometimes we are completely unaware of it.

I’m talking about the Good vs Bad kind of judging that we do when we apply it to people and what they do.  We form a value opinion, and then we drop our opinion into the world where it does its damage.

In High Probability Selling (HPS), we do our best to avoid this kind of judging.  Nothing positive, nothing negative.  Neither good nor bad.  We consider it too manipulative.  People are less likely to trust us.

It takes a great deal of work to become more aware of how our opinions – and how we state them – make other people feel judged and pressured.  Good intentions are not enough.

If you want to read some guidelines about how we avoid judging, see a previous article on this blog, “You Have to Get Personal“.

Questions and comments are very welcome.

Giving Something Away – Advice from Jacques Werth

Jacques Werth (founder of High Probability Selling), had this to say about giving away anything of value.

Always make sure that the recipient wants and will value what you give them, before you give it to them.

Don’t assume, ask.

  • Want – Do you want this?
  • Value – If I give this to you, what will you do (with it)?

Many years ago, Jacques was meeting someone in his office, and the conversation soon turned to High Probability Selling.  The visitor saw the book, High Probability Selling and expressed some interest in it.

Jacques asked, “Do you want a copy of that book?”

When the visitor said yes, Jacques asked, “If I give it to you, what will you do?”

The visitor said, “I’ll read it,” so Jacques handed him a brand new copy, no charge.

Questions and Comments from Our Audience, 2021-06

Steve Alexander wrote:

I was thinking about High Prob Sell vs Go for No.  I believe both systems are based on the two holy grails of life – 1) Whatever you resist persists, and 2) whatever you pursue eludes you.  I have noticed these two universal truths everywhere in life.  It’s amazing how simple things become once you “get it.”  Want to sell something?  Stop trying.  That’s basically how it works.  If you stop trying to sell, people will buy, assuming you have something people want.  If they don’t want it, you’re better off being quiet.  Sometimes, prospects will talk themselves into a sale, but you never will.


Adam Ruplinger wrote:

I love HPS!  I do not sell well when experiencing anxiety.  HPS eliminates my anxiety.  I cannot find a company that lets me use it.  Can you provide a list of companies using it I could apply for work?  Thank you!

Carl Ingalls replied:

I don’t have a list of companies that use HPS.  In general, large companies do not support it.  Also, when a company pays a salary to a salesperson, I take that to mean that they are paying the salesperson to sell the way they tell them to.  However, when the compensation is commission, the salesperson is generally free to use whatever method he or she chooses, as long as they get results.

When applying for a sales position, I recommend that you say the following, “I use my own sales method.  Will that work for you.”

Only mention High Probability Selling if asked.  Never try to talk anyone into it. 


Published here with permission from the authors.

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