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.

LinkedIn Discussion about Prospects Who Take Advantage of Salespeople

This is from a conversation on LinkedIn.  The discussion group is LinkedIn Sales / Marketing Executives (CSO/CMO).

Question:
How would you interpret this scenario?
By Mitch Emerson Co-founder, Compelligence, Inc.
Top Contributor

You’ve gone through a pretty thorough sales process with a potential customer–multiple meetings and demos for the end users and decision makers of your product or service; they say they love it and it’s what they need. They then ask for a bid so they can get it into their budget planning…and then they totally disappear–no replies to e-mails or phone calls for multiple months. They put time and interest in from multiple people at the beginning so it doesn’t -appear- to be just a competitive bid request or a fishing trip. Any tips for what you would do with that situation?

Response:
By Jacques Werth
Author “High Probability Selling”
Top Contributor

Mitch – That situation presents a valuable lesson. Many prospects take advantage of salespeople who do a lot of work in hope of getting their business.

Never do work for a prospect, unless you have an assurance from the *top decision maker* that you will get their business if you can meet his/her requirements. Then, find out what their requirements are, and figure out whether you can meet them, or not. That does not “guarantee” you’ll get their business, but it can minimize your exposure.

Regarding the described situation, respond to the request for a bid, with an offer to help them write the Request for Quotations. Then, design the RFQ so that it’s very difficult for any competitor to meet its requirements.

Using that strategy, I have sold $100s of millions, of everything from waterproofing dams, tunnels, and ballistic missile silos, to high tech capital equipment, and sales training.

 

 

 

 

How to Say Ok Goodbye When a Prospect Says No

There are just three things to do when a prospect says “No”.  First you say “Ok” and then you say “Good-bye” and then you hang up.  However, the way you do each of these makes a lot of difference.  The meaning that the listener perceives is greatly influenced by your tone and timing.

The tone should be emotionally neutral, matter-of-fact, as if you were making a simple statement that has no “attitude”.  It should not convey your frustration about hearing “no” from yet another prospect.  It should not reveal your boredom with the process of making call after call.  It is also very important that your tone does not communicate an enthusiasm or friendliness that the prospect is likely to presume is faked.

The timing should clearly separate the “Ok” from the “Good-bye”.  Say these two words as two separate statements, with a pause in between.  Do not act like you are in a rush.  After you say “Good-bye” wait a while in silence before you hang up.  It’s best to let the other party hang up first.

Keep the intended meaning of each of these three things clearly in your mind when you do them.

  • Ok means that you acknowledge and accept what the prospect has just said.  It means that you are not going to argue.  It demonstrates that you did not have an emotional attachment to that particular outcome.  It demonstrates that you listen.
  • Good-bye means that you are done with this call.  It means that you have nothing more to say.  It demonstrates that you are moving on in a businesslike manner.
  • Waiting for a while before you hang up means that you are not dismissing the prospect.  You are not “slamming the door”.  It also gives the prospect an opportunity to ask you not to hang up yet.  This does happen, especially after you have called that prospect a few times.

To hear some samples of how to say “Ok … Good-bye”, you can play the following audio

Totally Truthful Salespeople

by Jacques Werth

I have been in sales, sales management, and sales training since 1955.  From the beginning, I observed how top sales producers actually sell, intent on becoming one of them.  In 1961, I started to manage a sales force.

The first thing I noticed in my new job was that our salespeople all had an underlying sense of insecurity about selling and being believed.

Lou bragged about how his magic words and wise appearance closed his last sale, even though his sales were infrequent.

Steve kept revising his sales pitch, sure that all he needed was the right words to convince his prospects to buy.

Art was good looking, charming, and had a great sense of humor.  His lynchpin was rapport.

Bill knew far more about the services we sold than anyone, and he was sure that his expertise would close the sales.

They all constantly tried to come up with the best way to convince prospects of the benefits of our services.  However, most of them were barely making a living.

That was my first shot at managing salespeople and I didn’t know how to get through to any of them.  Then, one day, Wilbur joined our sales force.  He was quiet, self-assured, and a very good listener.  He reminded me of some of the top sales producers I had observed before I got into management.  In his first month with our company he became the top sales producer and his sales production kept improving.

When the other salespeople asked Wilbur how he did it, he said, “I just tell my prospects the truth about everything, the good and the bad.”  However, the other salespeople continued to sell the way they always did.

At that point, Wilbur’s sales accounted for almost 40% of our total sales volume and I was determined to find another Wilbur.  So, I began recruiting and interviewing salespeople, but I didn’t hire anyone until Stan showed up.

Stan didn’t seem to be like Wilbur in any obvious way.  He was friendly, energetic, and gregarious.  However, like Wilbur, he was a stickler for telling the whole truth.  After several months, Stan’s production was getting close to Wilbur’s and the less successful salespeople wanted to know how he did it.

Stan may have had a better understanding of why his sales process worked so well.  He told the other salespeople that he always told his prospects about the benefits and the detriments of our services, including everything that could go wrong.  He also explained how we guaranteed our services, but if service was required, it would not be a pleasant experience until everything was fixed.  However, the poor performing salespeople did not believe Stan either.

By the following year our company’s sales volume had almost doubled, most of the original salespeople were gone, and I was still recruiting salespeople like Stan and Wilbur.  That is how our company became one of the largest in the industry.

The lesson in this story is that you can make a lot more sales by telling the whole truth, and not just the parts that you think will help you persuade your prospects to buy.

5 Toxic Behaviors that Kill Sales

by Jacques Werth

1. Assume the Sale.  Treat everyone who might buy from you as if they will.  Persuade and convince them.

People who are that easy to convince are probably unwilling or unable to buy.  Many more people will resent you making assumptions about what is theirs to decide.
2. Get Out There and Sell.  You can’t sell ’em if you don’t meet ’em.
You will waste a lot of time that way, yours and theirs.  That will probably be the last time you get to meet them.
3. Act Like a Consultant.  Present yourself as an expert and trusted advisor about what they need.
Most prospects know better than to believe that a salesperson can be an objective advisor.  Salespeople who pretend to be consultants are trusted even less.
4. Find Problems and Solve Them.  Uncover the prospect’s needs and persuade them that you have the solutions.
Most prospects have more problems than they can ever get handled.  If it’s not a top priority for them when you call, they will not buy.
5. Overcome Objections and Close the Sale.  Convince prospects that their objections are wrong, or are actually benefits.
Objections are usually caused by the salesperson’s lack of authentic disclosure or by the prospect’s lack of a commitment to buy.

 

Dodging Price Creates Doubt

Most salespeople avoid answering the price question until after they have built value in the eyes of the prospect. How do you feel about a salesperson who dodges your questions about price when you are the buyer? Most prospects know exactly what the salesperson is doing and they resent it. That resentment ends in too many “I have to think it over” results.

by Jacques Werth

Most salespeople avoid answering the price question until after they have built value in the eyes of the prospect.  How do you feel about a salesperson who dodges your questions about price when you are the buyer?  Most prospects know exactly what the salesperson is doing and they resent it.  That resentment ends in too many “I have to think it over” results.

At the beginning of the sales process many prospects ask about price.  Most salespeople conclude that price must be very important to that prospect.  However, less than twenty percent of major purchases (excluding commodities) go to the low price supplier.

Most of the top sales producers have a very different attitude when a prospect asks about price.  They respond without hesitation, and give the prospect an authentic price range.  Example:  “Depending on exactly what you want, the price range is between $16,000 and $24,000.  Are you able and willing to buy within that range?”

Top sales producers understand that most prospects who ask about price only want to know whether the price is in the ballpark of what they can and will pay.

If the prospect does not ask the price question early in the sales process, top sales producers bring it up.  They want to know the prospect’s answer to avoid wasting time and emotional stamina on a prospect that is very unlikely to buy.

10 Tips for Prospecting Success

by Jacques Werth

The ability to prospect efficiently, effectively and enjoyably will enable you to meet with prospects that need, want and can afford your products and services – now. Your confidence will soar and empower you to develop a consistently superior income stream.

1. Start with a highly targeted telephone prospecting list, consisting of people or companies that are most likely to buy your type of products and services. Use a highly reputable list broker to find such a list. Start with a list of no more than 600 names. You cannot afford to develop your own list; It is much too time consuming. If you already have a book of business, follow this prospecting process with your existing clients as if they are new prospects.

2. Call every name on your list every 3-4 weeks. Understand that only a small percentage of your list will be ready to buy the first time that you call. Many more will be ready each successive time that you call. People buy in their own time for their own reasons; not because you have to make a sale this week. Calling them frequently is vital to prospecting success.

3. Present a “prospecting offer” of no more than 45 words that clearly states who you are, what you are selling, and two features of your product or service. Finish up with “Is that what you want?” Each time you call, change the two features. That will prevent most prospects from getting annoyed. It will also eliminate most of the rejection that is caused by traditional cold calling.

4. If the prospect says “No” or “I am not interested,” you say “Okay, good bye.” Do not press for an appointment. Do not try to engage the prospect in a conversation or ask any questions. This will be the most pleasant sales call they ever get. It will assure that very few prospects will ask you not to call again.

5. Schedule your prospecting sessions for 3½ hours. Take a fifteen-minute break between each hour. This is more productive than five prospecting sessions of one hour each.

6. Tape yourself. Use a tape recorder with an open microphone to tape your side of each call. Start the tape when the prospect answers. Listen to how you sound. The goal is to hear yourself using your usual conversational tones. Do not try to sound like a professional salesperson. Do not come across as overly enthusiastic, unusually friendly, or enticing. Just relax and present your offer without persuasion.

7. Always be in a “Disqualification” mode. Be determined to spend your selling time only with High Probability Prospects. Disqualify Low Probability Prospects quickly and courteously. Don’t allow desperation or anxiousness to deter you from your mission. If the prospect says “Yes,” you ask “Why?” Let the prospect convince you that he/she is a High Probability Prospect.

8. Accept the fact that prospecting really is a “numbers game.” The most important numbers are your Dials per Hour and the ratio of prospecting Offers to Dials. Most agents dial at least fifty numbers per hour.

9. Keep accurate records of your prospecting sessions. We have trained thousands of agents to be successful prospectors. The most successful keep accurate records. The least successful don’t. The act of keeping records will enable your subconscious mind to constantly improve your results.

10. Most top producers make fewer appointments, but close most of the prospects they meet.

You can learn more about efficient, effective, and enjoyable prospecting by going to www.HighProbSell.com.

Prospecting and the Gatekeeper

By Miles Sonkin, High Probability® Selling

If you’re calling business to business, and you’re reaching the administrative assistant, chances are that they know all about what the decision maker wants and doesn’t want.

The concept of getting past the gatekeeper usually ends badly. This article provides a different approach.

Q. When making prospecting calls, the prospect often ‘isn’t in’. When should I call next? Won’t the gatekeeper get irritated if I keep calling?

A. Here’s how we handle this common, and frustrating, situation in High Probability Selling:

Joe Prospect, please.

“Who’s calling?”

This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling.

“Is Mr. Prospect expecting your call?”

No he isn’t. Are you Mr. Prospect’s gatekeeper?

“Well … yes.”

I am calling Mr. Prospect to make a twenty second offer. Is it okay if I make the offer to you right now and you can determine if you are willing to put me through, or not?

“Sure.”

[Give Offer] … Is this something Mr. Prospect would want?

At large companies, the gatekeeper typically knows Mr. Prospect’s business as well as he does, and can answer the question with a “Yes,” “Probably” or “No” answer. When you get a “Yes” or “Probably,” they’ll do one of the following:

  • Put you through to Mr. Prospect, if he’s available
  • Specifically ask you to leave the message on Mr. Prospect’s voicemail. (When this happens, leave the message, but start it with: “This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling. I just spoke with Gatekeeper Name, your assistant, and after I told her why I was calling, she specifically asked me to leave you a voicemail message, because she thought it was something you might want.” Then give your offer and leave your phone number.
    Take as much time as needed to write your message down and commit to reading it to Mr. Prospect.
  • If the gatekeeper is not willing to put you through, say, “OK…Goodbye.”

This type of conversation rarely happens because other aspects of the HPS prospecting method make this type of conversation rarely necessary. There are a number of factors, one of which is calling with a new offer every 3-4 weeks. This makes gatekeeper blocks an increasing rarity for the HPS prospector.

Recession: A Good Time to Sell

We published this article early last year (2008) but it seemed worth revisiting given current events.

What Good is a Recession?

Whether a recession is generally spread across all industries, or localized to just your industry, it is a great time to be selling. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters (3 month periods) when economic activity, i.e. total sales, is lower than the two preceding quarters. In severe recessions ales have been as much as 15 percent lower than the two preceding quarters. That means that (only) 85 percent of your market is still buying. However, most of your competitors will have substantially cut back on their sales efforts. They often cut back by 50 percent or more.

A Time to Sell More, Not Less

In the 1980s, at the start of the personal computer era, there were 151 computer manufacturers in the USA. Due to over-production, the industry went into a tailspin. Fifty-two of those computer manufacturers went bankrupt in the first year of that industry recession. At that time, I was the Executive VP of a company that provided manufacturing equipment and tools to the computer industry.

Most of our competitors, the suppliers to the computer industry, feared the recession. So, they cut back on their sales and marketing efforts. However, our company hired and trained more salespeople, and we increased our marketing efforts. And, that was a period of maximum growth for our company.

Think about it! During that recession, 99 of the original 151 computer manufacturers were still building and selling computers. And, their average sales went up because their failed competitors could no longer supply computers to the market. There were 33 percent fewer computer suppliers in a market that was buying 15 percent fewer computers. Therefore, the computer companies that survived did an average of 18 percent more business. However, our company’s sales to the computer industry increased by almost 100 percent because most of our competitors made themselves weaker due to their fear of the recession. While we were expanding, many of our competitors failed.

A Good Time to Gain Market Share

Even companies that have a very large market share should continue their levels of sales and marketing during a recession. That has been proven in the auto industry where American manufacturers are managed for profitability per quarter and Japanese manufacturers are managed for long-term growth. While the American car companies have cut back on marketing and sales during recessions, Japanese car companies have continued at pre-recession levels. Thus, the Japanese gained market share during the recessions and they held onto their market share gains when the recessions ended.

Adjust Your Sales Process

Whether you are running a company or your own book of business, you should be able to considerably increase your success during a recession. However, it is not “business as usual.” Having a highly effective sales process is more important than ever. You must be able to efficiently find and identify the high probability prospects. You must be able to work with them on the basis of mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual commitments.

This recession can be a good time for you.

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