Top Salespeople Sell to Top Decision Makers

by Jacques Werth

To make more sales, meet with the highest level person who makes decisions about purchasing what you are selling.  It’s not a good strategy to talk to anyone at a lower level first, unless it is the top decision maker’s assistant (also known as a gatekeeper).  Here is an example:

Sean, a young salesperson with a very large software company visited with the IT manager of one the largest car manufacturers.  Sean was told that they were “absolutely not interested” in his type of software.  Sean mentioned the conversation to his sales manager, who reminded him that he was trained to contact C-level Execs, not managers.

Sean began to phone several of the senior VPs of the car company.  Eventually, he spoke to the assistant to the Chief Information Officer (CIO), and he explained what he was selling.  A minute later the CIO got on the line and said, “I understand that you have software that can automatically identify corrupted and missing information in our database files.  Is that correct?”

Sean said, “Yes that’s correct.  Is that what you want?”

She said, “Yes.  How soon can we get together?”

Sean met with the CIO the next day and he went through the entire High Probability Selling process with her.  He came back two days later with the product manager for that software.  After a thorough discussion about what the software could and could not do, the product manager estimated the price to be between 3 and 4 million dollars.  The CIO asked for a written quotation.

Within a week the CIO authorized a $3.5mm purchase of the software, and handed Sean a written purchase order.


Top Salespeople Sell to Top Decision Makers

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

Real Estate Sales Success: With Integrity, Without Stress

by Jacques Werth, as told to Paul Bunn   (and posted by Carl Ingalls)

We were in a large meeting room in a nice hotel, in a suburb of Seattle. Twelve successful Realtors were attending a Real Estate Sales Mastery workshop. They were an unusually well-dressed group for a two-day offsite workshop.

At our request, one of the participants had borrowed a sample front door and door frame from a builder. It was in the front of the meeting room and it was braced to stand on its own. The outside of the door was to the right, and to the left of the inside of the door we had a kitchen table and some chairs. Those were the props that we needed to begin the first exercise.

One of the workshop participants was asked to role-play how she approaches a visit to a homeowner who wants to sell his house. The instructor played the part of the home owner.

The first Realtor walked up to the outside of the door and knocked. The instructor opened the door and said “Hello.”

The Realtor flashed a big smile, held out her hand and said, very cordially, “Mr. Smith, it is so good to meet you. I am Pam Jackson with XYZ Real Estate. How are you today?”

The instructor invited her in and offered her a chair in the “kitchen.”

“Your home is very lovely. I really like what you did with the kitchen,” said Pam with delight, while looking all around.

The instructor stopped the role-play at that point and thanked Pam. He asked her to switch roles. She would now play the homeowner and the next participant would play the Realtor. He was even more effusive than Pam. Each successive Realtor tried to out-do those what went before them in their attempts to impress the “prospect” with their enthusiasm, charm and likeability.

During those role-plays, the other Realtors watched intently and remained very quiet. Several preened their clothing and hair before it was their turn.

For the second part of the role-play the instructor played the part of the Realtor, with Pam playing the homeowner. The instructor knocked on the door, and the Pam opened it. “Yes?’ she said.

“I’m Joe Instructor with HPS Realty. Are you Pam Jackson?

“Yes, I am,” she said, reaching to shake his hand. “Come in. I suppose you want to look over the house.”

“Before we do that, we need to get to know each other and determine whether we have a mutually acceptable basis for doing business.”

Homeowner: “Okay, we can sit in the kitchen, here.”

Realtor: “When we spoke on the phone we agreed this meeting would take about ninety minutes of uninterrupted time. Have you arranged for that?”

Homeowner: “Yes, I turned off my phone and put the dog out in the back yard.”

Realtor: “We agreed that the purpose of our meeting is to determine whether we have a mutually acceptable basis for selling your home. Is that your intention?”

Homeowner: “Yes.”

Realtor: “And, we agreed that if we can meet your conditions of satisfaction for the sale of your home, we will make a decision about that today. Is that still your intention?”

Homeowner: “Yes, it is.”

The instructor thanked Pam and asked her to rejoin the rest of the group. Then, he asked the entire group “What did you notice about the way I just approached Pam, the prospect?”

They called out their answers:

“You were very straight-forward,” “You were dignified,” You were very relaxed,” “You were authentic,” “You were not acting,” “You were in control,” “You asked for and got commitments,” Pam then capped it off with, “I felt privileged to be your prospect, I felt respected, and I felt respect for you.”

Then, the instructor explained exactly what he did, why, and how he did it, and asked all of the participants to replay both roles – doing it that way.

At the end of that exercise, they were offered a choice; continue to sell by out-charming, out-smiling, out-dressing, out-dancing and out-impressing their competition, or learn how to sell on a basis of mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual commitments. They all chose the latter.

What if the choice was yours?

What do you want to do?

Real Estate Sales Success: With Integrity, Without Stress

A Tire-Buying Experience

by Jacques Werth

It rained here last Friday and, while driving home from the office, my car was losing traction on the wet roads. That reminded me I had been putting off getting replacement tires for my car. So, on Saturday I went to the website and looked up their tire ratings.

Consumer Reports rated tires made by Falken and Nitto highest. Nitto is the one that seemed to suit my driving style best. I never heard of either brand, but since most tires are made offshore now, that did not bother me.

I looked up both websites to find dealers. Falken is sold by Sears; Nitto is sold by a relatively small number of dealers.  I called a Nitto dealer and he said, "Nitto doesn’t make tires in the size your car needs. They make tires for racing and high performance sports cars. A few of them fit some other cars, but not many. What you really want is Michelin and we have them in stock. They are less expensive and we install them immediately. When do you want to come over?"

I said, "I haven’t decided yet."

He said, "What are you concerned about?"

"My car came with Michelins and I want something better now."

"What don’t you like about the Michelins?"

Not wanting to get trapped by a rhetorical question, I replied, "I just want something better."

"You don’t have any better choice than Michelins, but we can get you any tire you want." I ended that conversation quickly.

Then, I called a large local dealer and spoke to Maureen. I asked her, "Do you have a tire in my size that is close in performance to the Nitto tire?"  

Maureen replied, "Consumer Reports, right?

I said, "Yup."
Maureen said, "The only one that we sell, which is in the same ball park, is the Michelin. However, you can get Falken tires at Sears for about the same price as Michelin, and it is rated higher than Michelin. We can provide you with General Tires that are very good, but not as highly rated as the Falken." That will save you about $200 for a set of four. She then
gave me a short explanation.

I said, "Thanks for the suggestion, but the price difference is not important for this car."

Maureen said, "In that case, good luck with your Falkens. Please try us again when you want tires, shocks or brakes for another vehicle." The conversation with Maureen took no more than four minutes.

My wife’s 740-IL will probably need tires in about six months. She does not put much mileage on her car and she does not drive very fast. You can bet that we will buy her tires from Maureen.

To learn more about why Maureen’s response earned my future business, read Chapter 3 of our book online.

Until Next Time…Sell Well

Jacques Werth, President
High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


Tags: How+to+sell, The+secret+to+selling, Selling+and+Persuasion

A Tire-Buying Experience

Change Your Commitments and Change Your Life

by Jacques Werth

Last week I got a call from "Mark" who has been a financial services professional for 12 years.  He said he works far too hard for the $80,000 he earns.  My response was, "What are you committed to?  

He replied, "I want to make a lot more money and work less."  

"I make as many appointments as I can and I try to persuade every one of my prospects to buy from me.  But then, I really try to help them."

"That is a selling strategy that you are committed to and that strategy is not working," I said.  "It is obvious that you need to change your sales strategy."

In sales, and in life, commitment is everything.  Yet, most people cannot accurately articulate what their commitments are.  They make a sincere stab at it by telling you what their ideals and goals are.  However, evidence shows that what you are committed to is seldom the same as your ideals and your goals.  So, what are you really committed to?   The answer to that is simple. You are committed to the life you have now.  

Your commitments are evidenced by the results of all of the actions that you take to attain what you are committed to.  All of the choices that you make, every minute of every day, are in support of your commitments.  If you are happy and satisfied with the life you are living now, then your commitments are aligned with your ideals and your goals.

If you are not happy and satisfied with the life you are living now, then your  commitments are not aligned with your ideals and your goals.  Knowing and accepting that is the first step towards having the life that you want.  The next step is to figure out how to change your commitments to achieve what you want.  It starts with reexamining all of your activities to determine which of them are forwarding your ideals and goals and which are not.

You may be committed to:

  • Find more prospects by working longer and harder;
  • Make tons of cold calls, while bearing the pain of rejection and failure;
  • Struggle heroically to overcome difficult obstacles in order to succeed;
  • Get all prospects to like you by establishing "rapport" and commonality;
  • Show prospects how to solve important problems;
  • Persuade and convince prospects with logic and factual documentation;
  • Use sophisticated closing techniques to help prospects decide;
  • Manipulate, control or dominate people in order to get what you want. 

Yet, your income might indicate that those commitments are not producing the results that you want.  

Your commitments dictate the choices that you make about what you do every day, and how you do it.  Change your commitments and you will change your behaviors.  That will change your life.

If you want to learn the process and mindset of top producing salespeople, you want to learn more about High Probability Selling.

Until Next Time…Sell Well

Jacques Werth, President
High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


Tags: How+to+sell, The+secret+to+selling, Selling+and+Persuasion

Change Your Commitments and Change Your Life

How Top Salespeople Maintain Their Dignity and Self-Respect

Jacques Werth
High Probability Selling

Prospects and customers, no matter their titles or status, are people like you and me.  We all have a very strong preference for dealing with people that we respect. 

The degree in which a prospect feels respect for the salesperson is extremely important.  It is almost as important as their trust in the salesperson.  We don’t really know whether it is a deliberate behavior of top salespeople to maintain their dignity and self-respect, or whether it is a character trait.  Either way, it is very important to adopt that attitude and learn that attitude and behavior if you want to become a top producer.

Many of our highly successful graduates have reported tremendously improved relationships with their prospects and customers.  They also cite far greater enjoyment in their work and much higher levels of self-esteem.

Becoming someone who is a widely respected salesperson is relatively easy to learn how to do.

It starts with the disqualification mindset.  The stated purpose of each prospect contact is to determine whether there is a mutually acceptable basis for doing business, now.  If not, you will (temporarily) disqualify the prospect.  That enables a relationship of equals.  You, the salesperson, are no longer a supplicant.

One simple step can be that you stop saying “Thank you,” when the prospects have done nothing more than share time with you.  You understand that they not doing you a favor; they are with you in the hope or expectation of getting something that they want.  Your time is just as valuable as any prospect’s time; if for no other reason than it is your life.

Adopting an attitude of dignity and self-respect enables you to be comfortable about saying “You’re welcome” and mean it, when the prospect says “Thank you” as he/she hands you a signed contract.

Of course, it is much easier to do if you know how to acquire an abundance of high probability prospects. 

If you want to learn the process and mindset of top producing salespeople, you want to learn more about High Probability Selling.

Until Next Time…Sell Well

Jacques Werth – High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


Tags: How+to+sell, The+secret+to+selling, Selling+and+Persuasion

How Top Salespeople Maintain Their Dignity and Self-Respect