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,


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

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

The Fear of Not Selling

by Jacques Werth

The fear of not selling has too many salespeople pushing hard enough to be offensive.

No matter what their product or service, most salespeople will attempt to sell every potential prospect in hope of making a sale.  However, at any given time, most prospects are not ready, willing, or able to buy.  But for various reasons, a lot of prospects are willing to sit through a sales pitch while acting like they might buy – with no intention to do so.

Then, the salesperson becomes disappointed often enough, that they think that they should push harder, overcome objections, and try several closes.  Then they get rejected.

Most prospects buy for their own reasons, in their own time.  The right timing can put the salesperson in front of prospects when they are ready, willing, and able to buy – without pushing.

The Fear of Not Selling

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.


5 Toxic Behaviors that Kill Sales

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?


[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.

Prospecting and the Gatekeeper

Persuasion is a Great Way to Sell If…

Another story from my observations of top producer selling methods…

Bill Silvers was the top producer for the largest textile manufacturer in North America. He was the second of hundreds of top salespeople that I observed working with prospects and customers. During the first sales visit that I went on with him, he was showing his company’s new seasonal textile samples to the owner of a dress manufacturing company. The owner said, “Bill, none of these samples are what we want for this spring’s line. We’re going in a different direction.”

Bill said, “Okay Manny. How about telling me about any changes you plan for your summer line?” They discussed that for the next fifteen minutes and then we left.

Walking to his car, I asked Bill why he didn’t try to persuade the customer that his samples would sell. He said, “Manny knows his business far better than I do. If I tried to persuade him, he would feel disrespected, resist my persuasion and he would resent me for trying. This way, I kept his respect and enhanced the probability of doing business with him in another few months.”

Persuasion is a great way to sell if you can find people who want to be persuaded to buy. But, think about how you would react when someone tried to persuade you to buy something you did not want. You would probably resist and resent them, too. That is why prospects who want to be persuaded are so rare that finding them is a real long shot.

If you really think you are a good persuader then you probably make appointments with people who are interested in your products and services. Interested people may seem to be in need of persuasion, though they seldom want to be persuaded and most of them resist. Salespeople who prospect and sell that way make loads of appointments. However, most of them don’t do much business.

Salespeople who think they are not great persuaders often sell a lot more. They gain a big advantage by focusing on finding and making appointments only with people who already want to buy what they are selling.

Good Selling,

If you want to read more about the advantages of not persuading, the first 4 chapters of our book is available online.

If you want to experience what it feels like to talk with a High Probability salesperson, give us a call at 800-394-7762 (disconnected in 2015 – see updated contact page).

Persuasion is a Great Way to Sell If…

The Reality of Selling

Fifty-one years ago I began to study selling — not just because I’m a curious, analytical type, but because I’ve always had a burning desire to succeed. When I was young I learned that big money can be made in sales and I wanted “my share.” Later, I realized that only a tiny percentage of the people who entered the sales profession ever make it big.


Getting my first college degree, majoring in Sales, I aced all my sales courses. In my first sales job, I quickly came to realize that what I learned in college about selling didn’t work for me. After taking many other sales courses, I learned most corporate and commercial sales trainers don’t teach effective selling, either.

So, I set out to find the best salespeople, in a wide range of industries, to see what they did that other salespeople didn’t do. Over the years, I’ve gone out on sales calls with hundreds of the best salespeople and learned that the top 1% of all salespeople don’t sell the way the other 99% sell. Nearly everything they do is different than how most experts believe selling is done.

Discovery – Honesty is the “Magic Bullet”

The most surprising thing I discovered is that most of the best salespeople are totally honest in their work. They’re honest with their prospects and customers, and they’re honest with themselves. Through intuition and experience, they’ve learned that deception, including self-deception, is the enemy of sales success.

Real Measurement – Real Results

You’ve often heard that “sales is a numbers game.” One of the big differences between the top producers and the other 99% is they know their numbers; their real numbers. Top salespeople keep records of their sales activities every day, and they analyze their statistics every day. They know exactly how and where to focus their efforts for the best results.

An Uncomfortable Reality

Most salespeople don’t know how to sell very well, but they often believe they do. One of their biggest barriers to success is that they don’t know their numbers, and they don’t want to know. That makes it easy to lie to themselves about what is working and what isn’t.

When asked, many salespeople report and really believe that their closing rates are at least twice as high as they actually are. If they really knew their numbers, they would have to face the truth about their skills and beliefs. Then, they would have to change what they’re doing and how they think.

Change can be very uncomfortable. Reality can also be uncomfortable. For many, it’s more comfortable to lie to themselves than to change what they do every day. That’s why most salespeople fail, and many of those who survive continue to struggle to make a good living.

False But Promising Prospects

Most salespeople spend most of their time on appointments with prospects that “have great potential,” but seldom buy from them. The average salesperson goes through all of the motions that look like selling, but fails to bring in much business. They often believe that more appointments are the solution, but are too busy to make that possible. Top producers know that just getting more appointments is not the answer.

Average salespeople seldom truly qualify their prospects. They rarely disqualify their prospects, either. If they did, they would need to find new prospects — but they don’t know how to prospect effectively, efficiently and enjoyably.

Real Relationships. Real Selling.

We’ve seen what top producers actually do when they’re selling. We know what works and what doesn’t.

“Building Rapport” does not work. It actually creates much of the resistance and rejection most salespeople have to live with, and suffer with, every day. Developing relationships of Mutual Trust and Mutual Respect works.

“Overcoming Objections” does not work. Preventing the resistance that makes objections necessary does work. Most top producers work in an objection-free zone. They practice total disclosure and are real with their clients about what they are offering. They respect the decisions that their prospects make.

We know how top salespeople get commitments dozens of times during each sales visit without any pressure on their prospects or themselves. They don’t use trial closes or other closing techniques. They don’t focus on the right words for getting people to move forward. In reality, it’s so much easier than that.

Read a Story About It

The essence of our book, “High Probability Selling,” is a story about how a salesperson learns how top producers actually sell. It’s about learning a selling process that makes it highly probable that you’ll close the majority of your prospects, by doing the opposite of what many salespeople believe about selling.

The first four chapters are available to read online here.

The Reality of Selling

Why Most Sales Tips Don’t Work

By Paul Bunn and Carl Ingalls

The Quest for the “One”

Many salespeople who contact us are looking for that one all-powerful sales tip or technique that will make them more successful.

Finding Buried Treasure

Many sales seminars are sold by promising to deliver a “new” tip or trick or a silver bullet
technique that will magically make all of your customers buy.  Enticed by the possible existence of a secret weapon that you haven’t heard about yet, you continually search for this buried treasure…based on the belief that one more elusive idea will catapult you to sales success.


Nearly all of these ideas that are presented as breakthroughs have been around since the beginning of recorded selling history.  From using a prospect’s first name over and over throughout your conversation with them, to using your charisma and charm to create a relationship so they’ll buy from you, to acting interested.  A recent Google search yielded hundreds of sites offering anywhere from 10 to 75 tips per site.

They Often Make Sense

How do you determine whether a sales tip or new idea will actually work?  Often, the effectiveness of the latest “killer tactic” is based upon folklore, or a singular success story.  The most popular ones make perfect sense, because they are very logical – at a superficial level.

The Reality, Part 1

It is when you actually try to apply these ideas that problems occur.  They don’t work as they are supposed to.  For example, you encounter unexpected sales resistance, and you think you just didn’t do it right.

The Reality, Part 2

It isn’t you…it’s the technique.  Techniques that are based on persuasion, whether overt or covert, no matter how sophisticated, actually prevent more sales than they generate.

An Alternative

Learn to sell using the opposite of persuasion.  Focus on what people want and don’t try to change that.  It’s not about technique; it’s about intention.

If you want to learn more about this, read Chapter One of the book High Probability Selling.

Why Most Sales Tips Don’t Work