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.

Go for No and High Probability Selling – Live Video Streaming Event Tue 28 Sep 2021 on Facebook

Andrea Waltz and Carl Ingalls will continue our conversation about similarities and differences between these two selling systems.  Our previous conversation was on 28 June 2021, and may be viewed on You Tube.

The conversation will be streamed live to the High Probability Selling company page on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/HighProbabilitySelling/.  If you choose to “like” that page, Facebook will automatically notify you of this event.

The event is open to the public and is free (no charge).  No registration required.

Date:  Tuesday 28 September 2021
Time:  3pm 5pm USA Eastern Time (same as New York City)
Link: https://www.facebook.com/HighProbabilitySelling/
Duration:  1 hour

Comments posted to the streaming event on Facebook will be forwarded to both presenters, and we will answer questions if we can.

The event will be recorded, and the recording will be posted to the High Probability Selling channel on YouTube (www.youtube.com/channel/UC3jsAgiQj4qg1XqA9T_mOpw).  If you subscribe to that channel, YouTube will notify you when the recording is available.

It may be useful to read the book, Go for No!, by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, before the discussion.


Please note the schedule change. It was 3pm and is now 5pm. Still Tue 28 Sep 2021.

Charisma vs Passion in Selling

Charisma is about charming people.  It is a way of influencing how someone feels about you.  It may be natural, or it may be a technique for getting approval.

Passion (in this context) is how we feel about something we do.  Feeling passion and expressing passion are two very different things.  The first is real, and the second may be an act.  If we are not careful, our expression of passion may be interpreted as an attempt to influence how a prospect feels about what we are selling.

Influencing how a prospect feels is one way to sell.  However, influencing a prospect is not compatible with High Probability Selling.

We teach our students to maintain an objective, neutral, and businesslike manner when selling.  We put our passion and our energy into finding people who want what we are selling and into determining how likely the outcome will turn out the way we want it to.


Upcoming HPS Workshops:
Getting Personal (17 Jan 2017, $245);  Chapter 12 Explained (26 Jan 2017, $45);  Prospecting (21 Feb 2017, $1050)

Questions from a Student of High Probability Selling (2016-09-03)

Adam sent me an email with questions about High Probability Selling after listening to the audio recording of the August 2016 teleseminar workshop on Chapter 12 Explained

Adam’s email appears here with his permission.  Answers from me (Carl Ingalls) are in red text (and indented).


From: Adam
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2016 5:36 AM
To: Carl Ingalls
Subject: Re: Recording of Teleseminar Workshop “Chapter 12 Explained”

Hello Carl,

first, let me thank you for the seminar file; I listened to it twice and found it very informative and constructive… it was a nice surprise to hear Jacques’ voice as well!

Here are some of my questions/queries/digressions, etc directly and indirectly connected to the seminar:

1.while listening to Jacques recordings i couldn’t help noticing his art of talking in a very specific emotionless, almost monotonous way; do you know whether this is his natural way of talking or he developed it purposefully for business, if so how could one learn/train it?  (sometimes it is quite difficult to stay “cool” on the phone or during an appointment)

A:  Jacques’ art of talking in a neutral manner comes fairly natural to him, but he does not always talk that way.  He does that in situations where it is important to do so.  Examples:  when prospecting or selling (non-persuasively), or when communicating with someone who has lost their temper (see Jacques’ post on Angry People).  He probably improved on it while copying very successful salespeople and also while playing poker.  It can be taught, and it can be learned, but it takes a lot of effort.  We teach these skills continuously in our sales training workshops and coaching.

2.prospecting on the phone and the very opening; you advised to skip “hello”…hmm, business contacts in my country are quite formal and polite; skipping any kind of greetings/introduction would be considered rude…

A:  Many of the things we train salespeople to do seem impolite and rude, not only to Austrians, but to people everywhere.  Not saying “Hello” when prospecting is just one example.  There are others.  They have all been tested in many cultures around the world, with the same results.  We tried it both ways, and we get more sales when we stop saying “Hello” in our prospecting calls.  Many of us struggle with the conflict between doing what we feel comfortable about, and doing what gets us the results we want.

3.Trust & Respect Inquiry: in the book, Sal asks many questions while telling nothing about himself in return; i understand the purpose here, but can’t help thinking, this situation is out of balance; what if the client asks once or more “how about you?” at any time during this phase? should i tell him anything from my life or wriggle out, if so, how?

A:  Asking personal questions, while offering nothing of oneself in return, is very much “out of balance.”  This is especially true when compared to a typical personal conversation.  When we do it this way, people tell us things about themselves that they rarely get to say to other people.  Why?  We don’t know.  It probably has something to do with the way we give control of the topic to the other person, and the way we avoid judgments (including very subtle ones).

Occasionally, the other person will ask a question of us.  If it is a simple and direct question, we answer it as simply as we can, and then we ask our next question.  If their question  is vague and non-specific, like “how about you?” we would ask “What do you mean?” or something like that.

It is too easy to start talking about yourself during this process.  Don’t follow any suggestion or invitation to do so.  This is about the other person, not you.  You can talk about yourself later.

4.provided i have to break up the meeting during the COS discussion; how exactly do i do it? what do i say? do i keep an option for the future meeting? etc…

A:  It may depend on the reason for the interruption.  If you know that you want to proceed with the sale later, the best thing to do is to make very definite plans to continue the process.  Making an appointment is much better than “keeping an option” (which is too vague). 

i would be very grateful if you could give me your perspective…many thanks 🙂

best regards,

Adam


Comments and questions (and additional answers) from our readers are welcome.

Relationship Selling

Would you trust someone who tried to form a relationship with you solely for the purpose of selling you something?

Many salespeople believe that the key to getting someone to buy is to build a “relationship” first.  They are the ones who say “how are you” on a cold call.

Saying “how are you” on a cold call is one of the signs that someone is going to try to get you to buy.  You may have noticed that, consciously or unconsciously, and it may affect your decision about whether you will buy from that salesperson or not.

In High Probability Selling, we don’t try to build relationships.  Relationships come from doing business, not the other way around.

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

We Need Your Help with a Marketing Question About a Call to Action

We need your help.  What would a Call to Action from High Probability Selling (HPS) look like and feel like?  We want to hear your thoughts, and even more importantly, we want to know how you feel.

Marketing experts tell us that every “pitch” should contain a clear Call to Action, something that we want the reader or listener to do.  But they live in a persuasive world, where marketing and selling is all about pushing or nudging or influencing people into buying something.  High Probability Selling is not in that world at all.

We don’t pitch.  Instead of trying to get someone to buy, HPS is about finding someone who wants to buy what we are selling, and then communicating with that person in a way that is completely consistent with this purpose.  So, what would a Call to Action look like in order to be compatible with High Probability Selling?

It can’t be pushy.  We’ve tried that.  Our website used to say “Get Started Now!” in big bold type on the home page.  It just didn’t feel right, and one of our readers pointed this out to us recently on Twitter.  So we changed it to something else.  We thought about it, and made a guess about what might work.

Our thinking went like this.  In the world of persuasion, a Call to Action is a push in a direction chosen by the seller.  In the world of HighProb, it’s replaced by a map, so that the potential buyer can make an informed decision.  People want to know what direction to go, but they don’t want to be pushed.  What we have now starts with “What’s next?  We offer the following suggestions”.  This is followed by our best guesses about what a reader might want.

High Probability Prospecting contains a good example of a High Probability version of a Call to Action.  Another Twitter friend pointed out that we are asking someone to make a decision (a type of action) when we are prospecting and we ask, “Is that something you want?”  When we do this, we make no attempt to steer the prospect toward a particular answer.  It’s a Call to Action without a direction.

We need to be creative.  High Probability Selling contradicts conventional wisdom about marketing and selling.  We want creative people to tell us what they think and feel.

 

We thank our readers, especially Linda Sgoluppi and Russ Thoman (@Linda_Sgoluppi and @RussThoman on Twitter), for calling us into action and for helping us clarify our thoughts on this.

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.

Why Be Afraid of High Probability Selling?

High Probability Selling is scary.  It’s a radical departure from what most salespeople are doing.  It’s hard to believe that it will actually work.  This article describes the basic fears that can prevent people from trying High Probability Selling.

by Jacques Werth

High Probability Selling is scary.  It’s a radical departure from what most salespeople are doing.  It’s hard to believe that it will actually work.

The Fear of Loss
You may be afraid that you will lose sales if you don’t push for every single one.  If you are not closing enough sales now, you may believe that allowing your prospects to say “no” will make things much worse.  It may be difficult to believe that accepting “no” allows you to move on much more quickly to your next “yes”.
The Fear of Rejection
You may be afraid that the pain of rejection will be much worse when you listen to your prospects say “no” to you again and again.  With High Probability Selling, you will hear “no” a lot more often than you do now.  If you can learn to accept that, then you will also hear “yes” a lot more often than you do now.
The Fear of Inadequacy
You may be afraid of starting over and becoming a beginner again.  You may feel reasonably competent with the way you have been selling.  It is normal to be afraid that you may not be able to master something you don’t thoroughly understand and have never tried before.  If you are able to move ahead in spite of that fear, you could be on your way to becoming a highly competent sales producer.
Fear of Fear
Before my first fight, my boxing coach taught me something about fear.  “You can either walk away now and be terrified for the rest of your life, or you can get into the ring and deal with it.”

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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