When Is a Sale Considered Lost?

by Paul Bunn

A student recently asked us what they should do with a list of “lost deals”.  And at what point is a deal or sale “lost”?  In their case, a lost deal equated to a person who didn’t purchase what the student was selling, in the timeframe the student wanted them to buy.

This inquiry got me thinking about one of the fundamental parts of High Probability Selling that is often overlooked; the words and language we use casually that either enhances or detracts from an effective HPS mindset.  Discerning this fundamental part requires listening to ourselves, specifically the words we choose.

My thinking and intuitive feel on the subject of a lost sale, is that a real loss only occurs if that person at that company says they never want to hear from you again.  Everyone else who doesn’t want your service now falls into “not now”.

And although we commonly use “lost” in our sales language, there is really no such thing.  You can only lose something you actually had in your possession in the first place. 

And quite clearly, although our long-conditioned sales brain may initially say otherwise, when a person says “not now” it’s obviously not about losing a sale that we had in our possession.  A sale we had in our imagination, a sale that existed in our mental map of the future perhaps, but an actual completed transaction?  I think not.

Back in prehistoric days (the late 1900’s), I would drive past a McDonald’s and the sign would say over 10 million sold.  The sign did not say that 50 million drove past a McDonald’s that century and never stopped.

What they paid attention to, and yes I used to work at McDonald’s, was the interaction with those people who stopped and bought a burger or two and some fries and a coke.  A Quarter Pounder that nobody purchased was not a lost sale.  It’s only part of an ongoing equation.

Another consideration is that sales is a person to person activity.  Companies and businesses and organizations don’t buy anything.  People are the ones who buy, or make the sale.  And they do it for their own reasons in their own time.  The goal of a High Probability Salesperson is to be in communication with them as close as possible to whenever their reasons align with the outcomes that our products or services provide, during the timeframe in which they are ready to buy.

So, at what point is a sale considered “Lost”?  So infrequently, we never really measure them.

And what do we do with a list of “lost” deals?  Continue prospecting to them like anyone else on your list.

Script Your Way to Being a Good Listener

By Paul Bunn

“I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.” – Winston Churchill

One of the keys to effective listening, especially over the telephone, is to use a script.

Before you recite a myriad of reasons that disagree with that idea, momentarily suspend your disbelief and read on.

When prospecting, or selling, you either follow a well thought out process or you’re “winging it”. The chances are that if you’re winging it, you’re not thought of by your prospects as a good listener.

We train salespeople to design “offers” that quickly and accurately describe their product or service. Then we drill them on how to reply to eleven typical responses that they are likely to hear from prospects.

We also recommend that they create a “prospecting board” or visual display of these responses and standardized phrases to handle them. The most successful prospectors use them every time they prospect. Therefore they don’t have to memorize the replies, even if there are only 11 replies needed.

These successful prospectors also read their offer (script) every time they make a prospecting call. Do they sound like they are reading from a script? Yes, sometimes, in the beginning. Does it adversely affect their results? No, it actually has a positive effect.

In numerous surveys on the decision criteria people use in making important purchases, trust and respect are numbers one and two, respectively. Effective selling, whether you’re using High Probability or not, is about those two factors. Listening to prospects is one way to achieve mutual respect.

Even people who are great at multi-tasking find it very difficult to concentrate on two different speakers at the same time. If you are trying to listen to your prospects and at the same time, thinking about what you are going to say next, you’ll find that you don’t hear them or connect with them deeply enough.

Using a script is a reliable and measurable way to discover what works and what doesn’t work in your communication. It also is a way to be well prepared for making calls, and increase your listening and building a relationship of respect with your prospects. Scripts also keep you in control of the sales process.

If you are a salesperson who uses High Probability, perhaps this article is a reminder about one of the fundamentals of written offers and responses. For those of you who want a refresher or coaching on your prospecting system, stay tuned for the announcement of the High Probability Mastery Coaching Program. Or call us to find out more.

If you are a salesperson who is not using our system, to discover how using a script and a few short responses can help you sell more with less stress, and build relationships of respect with your prospects. Or, if you want to discover what HPS sounds like, give us a call at (610) 566-1535, or toll-free at (800) 394-7762.

When Common Phrases Sabotage Sales

by Jacques Werth and Paul Bunn

We live in a cynical world.  Salespeople have helped create that world, by using words and phrases in ways that trigger suspicion, create mistrust and sabotage sales.

Many of these words and phrases are part of traditional and popular sales techniques that are intended to create trust and “build rapport” but actually do the opposite.

You may not even realize that you are using these words and phrases in a way that negatively affects your communication and your business.

Here are four of the most common ones:


Interested is the word that salespeople use when they don’t want to hear “No.”  Interested is the word that prospects use when they don’t want to say “Yes.” There is no commitment associated with interest.

Interested people are gathering information.  Interested people are not ready to buy.  Selling to them when they are merely interested is usually a frustrating waste of your time and energy.  Also, experience shows that it virtually guarantees that when they are ready to buy, they won’t buy from you.

Interested indicates an opportunity for marketing, not sales.

“Honestly” or “To Tell the Truth”

People pay more attention to what you do than what you say.  They have learned that when a salesperson says they are going to be honest, they are likely to do the opposite.

When it comes to honesty, don’t say it.  Be it.

“Just” or “Only”

“I just wanted to let you know…” or “Just fifteen minutes of your time.”  What does the word “just” imply in sales situations?  It communicates that you seem to be trivializing your communication in order to disarm the prospect. You’re minimizing the importance of your products and services, and your own time.  If someone is a real prospect for your product or service, it’s an important priority. 

“Thank You”

While gratitude in a business situation is often warranted, “Thank You” is one of the most over-used and abused phrases spoken by salespeople. 

There is no need to thank prospects for their time and attention.  Repeatedly thanking prospects and customers implies a subservient, begging, position, which will cause a loss of respect for you.

If you say thank you when no real value is received, then you will be seen as being insincere and phony.  That impression will sabotage your credibility, mutual respect and lose business.

In High Probability Selling, we have a list of more than 30 of these words and phrases. We train salespeople to become aware of, and then either eliminate them or radically change how they use them. 

People want to do business with people they can trust and respect.  They will try to avoid doing business with anyone who arouses suspicion.  The words you choose and the way you use them make all the difference.

To learn how to communicate with trust and respect, click here.

High Probability Selling
© 2008.  All rights reserved.

Trust and Respect – The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

by Jacques Werth

Does your selling style address the most fundamental needs of your prospects? What are the most important factors to someone making an important buying decision?

Universities and market research firms have conducted numerous studies to determine the most important buying decision factors for people who make significant purchases. We gathered as many of those studies as we could find, and did simple correlation analyses to average out the results. Here are the results, in order of importance.

Weighted Values* of Buying Decision Factors(c)

1. Level of Trust in the Salesperson: 87
2. Level of Respect for the Salesperson: 82
3. Reputation of the Company or Product: 76
4. Features of the Product or Service: 71
5. Quality and Service: 58
6. Price (non-commodity): 16
12. Like the Salesperson (rapport): 3
      *(Weight = percentage of people listing each factor in their top 5)

The average salesperson knows how to effectively present 4 of the 7 factors cited above: Reputation (#3), Features (#4), Quality and Service (#5), and Rapport (#12). Most salespeople try to handle the two most important buying decision factors, Trust (#1) and Respect (#2), by establishing Rapport (#12).

Building “Rapport” is an inherently manipulative tactic. Ironically, typical salespeople attempt to establish Trust and Respect, non-manipulative factors, by manipulating people. Building rapport doesn’t establish trust and respect, it diminishes trust and respect. That’s why only 3% of all buyers surveyed rate ‘Like the Salesperson’ as an important buying decision factor.

If Trust and Respect are so important, why don’t most salespeople learn how to establish relationships of trust and respect with their prospects and customers? We’ve come to the conclusion that there are three reasons:

  1. Most salespeople don’t know that it can be done.
  2. If they learn a process that develops that kind of relationship, they feel uncomfortable using it because it’s very unconventional.
  3. Trust and Respect are very personal emotions, and sharing emotions is commonly regarded as only suitable for intimate relationships. Most salespeople have a fear of intimacy. Yet, we’ve found that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of prospects and customers have a fear of intimacy.

Let’s suppose you’re faced with a very important buying decision. Let’s say you have decided to relocate thirty miles away from where you live now, so that you and your spouse will both have shorter commutes to work. So, you need to sell your current home and buy a new one. To whom would you entrust the sale of your most valued possession? Are you going to entrust the sale of your house to a charming and friendly Realtor who tells you that they have the best marketing system, the best skills, the best negotiating ability, and affiliation with the biggest real estate firm? Or, will you hire the Realtor whom you trust and respect the most to sell your most valued possession?

Regardless of whether you sell to consumers or B-2-B, all sales are made to people. When the sales are significant, most people want to buy from someone they trust and respect. Why? Fear of loss is the most important buying motivation. You could lose tens of thousands in the hands of an untrustworthy Realtor. At work, choosing an unreliable vendor could cost you a raise, a promotion, or your job.

If you learn a process that establishes relationships of mutual trust and respect with prospects during your first conversation with them, you will have the ultimate competitive advantage. If not, hope to be the most persuasive salesperson your prospects meet- and hope that someone who practices High Probability Selling isn’t your competitor!

 If you want to learn how to make trust and respect your competitive advantage, click here.

Until Next Time…Sell Well

Jacques Werth, President
High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


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

Popular Doesn’t Necessarily Equal Best – or Even Good

by Paul Bunn

If everyone is thinking alike, somebody isn’t thinking.     – George S. Patton

Turnover in the sales profession is extremely high compared to most other professions.  The failure rate for financial services agents and representatives is greater than 90 percent.

Look at the world of sales experts, sales trainers and sales consulting firms. You will find nearly all of them are offering the same way, or a better way, of selling based on the same three main goals:

  • Find prospects that apparently need your products, services, or solutions.
  • Get those prospects to agree to meet with you, in person or over the phone
  • At that meeting, or subsequent meeting(s), persuade them to buy from you


There are other aspects of that way of selling, such as: building a relationship and rapport, getting referrals, overcoming objections, improving your presentation, identifying decision-makers, etc.  But these are just supporting elements of the three main goals.  Seems simple enough. 

Consultative selling, solution selling, SPIN selling, value based selling, trusted advisor, buying facilitation, B2B, M2M, etc., whatever the current popular variation, nearly everyone in sales is pursuing those three main goals.  Most salespeople and their managers accept it as the only way to sell. It is also accepted as the only way to measure and market the effectiveness of their training.

So, why is the failure rate so high?  Why are there so many new, and supposedly better, variations of a system that is generally accepted as the only way?  Why does it need so many modifications?

We have discovered that there are only two groups of people that do not embrace the sales methods used by most salespeople: 

  • Top producers, the ones that make up the top one or two percent of salespeople
  • Prospects and customers – including salespeople when they are not selling

This discovery is a result of 40 years of research, consisting of in-person direct observation of hundreds of top producers in multiple industries while they were prospecting and selling.   We found that over 80 percent of these top producers did not follow the universally accepted selling models.  Also, they did not accept or work towards the popular and accepted goals of selling.  They used a sales  process that formed the basis of what is now known as High Probability Selling (HPS).   

Most salespeople will continue to stay with what is popular. However, if you believe that popular doesn’t necessarily equal best, then High Probability Selling might be for you.

Listen and Learn

We teach High Probability Selling and Prospecting.  You can listen to a recording of one of our Participative Learning Sessions by clicking here.

You can contact us by clicking here… even if you disagree.

Or call us at 800-394-7762 (disconnected in 2015 – see updated contact page). 

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

High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


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

How Successful People Make Decisions

by Carl Ingalls and Paul Bunn

A colleague here in our office recently shared the following strategy for succeeding in business:

“If you want to be successful in business, do business with successful people.”

How we communicate with them is a significant element of that strategy. We’ve developed a table comparing sales communication methods that are more consistent and less consistent with the way successful people make decisions. You can see the table here at our website.


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

High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


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

So You Think You Lost the Sale?

Losing a sale is something that we’ve all experienced.  Sometimes it feels like the prospect’s mind seemed to change for no apparent reason, sometimes you had a sense that there was something negative in the mind of your prospect, but you just couldn’t figure it out. Perhaps, worse than the actual event is the discouragement you feel when you cannot determine why you lost this sale.  Then, you are left to worry about when and how you will lose the next one.

You may have analyzed these sales situations and re-examined your sales process over and over again. Were there other competitors that were being considered?  Did they decide to stick with an existing supplier?  Was the prospect just looking for a "free" education?  Was there an undisclosed decision-maker who vetoed you?  Did you miss an incomplete answer or partially ignore an objection?  Did the prospect just decide not to decide?

Reviewing a lost sales opportunity and your sales process is a good idea. However, by the time you realize that you won’t get the sale, it’s usually too late to learn the real reason.  At that point, most customers don’t want to reveal all of the details of their decision.

The time to find out why a sale is not going to go through is early in the sales process, when you’re meeting with the prospect.  Discover it in the moment. Then, you have the time to respond, and to choose your best course of action.

Of course, the idea of a lost sale implies that there was an opportunity there at one point and that you, the salesperson, somehow lost it.  In most of these cases there really was not much chance of making the sale in the first place.  The key is making that determination as soon as possible, before you spend more time, effort and resources.

For over forty years, we have observed hundreds of top-performing salespeople, in the field, while prospecting and on appointments.  The way that they solve this problem is to simply ask a complete set of direct, pertinent questions about the most common end-of-the-sale "deal-killers." They do that very early in the sales process.

Asking questions is not a new sales concept. The critical differences are in the type of question, the purpose of each question, how the questions are delivered and the how responses are handled. These questions are part of a pre-planned sequence, which is part of a mutual discovery and commitment process.

Discover what the customer wants and doesn’t want to see in your proposal, before you prepare it.  Discover whether there are other decision makers, influencers, or competitors.  Find out what may be happening in the background that could keep them from doing business with you.  These are all legitimate questions.

Attempting to close a sale without this information is the kind of strategy that creates anxiety and stress.  Success comes down to asking the right questions and acting on the answers in a way that improves your sales productivity.  These types of questions create a series of "opt-in or opt-out" discussion points for the prospect and the salesperson. Invest your time, energy and resources where you will get the best return on those investments.

Many salespeople are unwilling to ask the "hard questions."  However, you will gain the respect of most prospects when you do.  For the top producers we’ve observed, asking those questions is one of the primary reasons they are so successful.  You might often think you lost a sale when, in the same circumstances, a top producer will know it was not a real sales opportunity in the first place.

For more information on how to do this, click here.


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

Paul Bunn – High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


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

Are You New to NLP?


Jacques Werth
High Probability Selling

A software salesperson related the following story about one of his recent sales appointments. 

“I went into a meeting with a prospect in his office, and our conversation started with him asking, ‘Tell me again what your software does.”

As he spoke I noticed the prospect, whose elbows had been on the arms of his chair, was moving his hands down alongside the arms of his chair. So I moved my hands down alongside the arms of my chair. 

Our conversation continued, and then the prospect pulled his chair back from his desk and crossed his legs.  Then I crossed my legs in the same manner.

A few minutes later, the prospect leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head, interlocking his fingers. 

About a minute later, I put my hands behind my head, mirroring his movements. The conversation was going well as I explained the benefits of our software system.

A short time later, the prospect put his left hand back down on the arm of his chair and, with his right hand, reached around the back of his head grabbing his left ear. 

Then, I tried to emulate the prospect’s new movement and the prospect interrupted me, saying, “No, it’s the right hand holding the left ear… Are you new to NLP?” 

Savvy prospects like this one are becoming more and more prevalent.   They know a technique when they see one, even the “subtle” ones.  Selling to these prospects requires an entirely different way of thinking about sales, instead of learning another technique of persuasion.

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 Producers Eliminate Objections

By Jacques Werth
High Probability Selling

Many salespeople try to rationalize that objections are good because they indicate the prospect’s level of interest and pinpoint the keys to making the sale. That is analogous to saying that you should not prevent the cause of pain in your body; pain is good because you then know what ailment to cure.

Take notice of the kinds of objections that salespeople are plagued with and how some otherwise smart salespeople try to overcome them. Some objections are caused by flawed prospecting methods. Other objections are caused by flawed sales methods. Instead of learning a new sales process, or a new way of thinking about sales, most salespeople try to use clever rhetorical manipulations to overcome each objection. Those manipulations raise the prospect’s sales resistance, which then creates an adversarial relationship.

The way top producers prevent objections is to tell all of the detriments of each feature – along with the benefits – before the negatives occur to the prospect. Most prospects are just as smart as salespeople. Therefore, avoiding or obscuring the negatives is not a viable sales strategy. Even if everything that you tell them is true, that is not good enough. Withholding negatives is perceived to be half-truths by most salespeople. However, most prospects perceive half-truths to be lies. "Total Disclosure" eliminates objections and creates relationships of trust and respect with clients and prospects.

The High Probability Selling process eliminates almost all objections with the technology of Total Disclosure.

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

The Right Relationships with the Right Prospects at the Right Time

by Jacques Werth

Most salespeople practice “Consultative Selling.” Using this popular sales method, they believe that their job is to meet with prospects who have an apparent need for their products and/or services. They spend most of their selling time with prospects who don’t know what their needs are or what “pains” their needs are causing them. That is why they advocate elaborate, quasi-soft-sell techniques to get prospects to open up. They are in fact, attempting to sell these prospects at a time in their buying cycle when marketing activities are more effective.

The High Probability Selling process is based on our observations of top producing salespeople, and one of the things that we learned is that they focus their selling time with prospects that are ready to buy now. Top producers are not willing to meet with prospects when they are only interested in a product or service. Top producers only set appointments with prospects that:

  • Already want the benefits of their products and/or services.
  • Are ready to spend the time and money to acquire them.

We refer to them as “High Probability Prospects”

Finding that kind of prospect is easy, almost as easy as it is for consultative salespeople to find prospects that may need what they have to offer and are “really interested” in learning about their products and/or services.

Top producers do not give the prospect an appointment unless they agree to the following “Rules of Engagement.”

  • The purpose of the meeting is to determine whether they have a mutually beneficial basis for doing business
  • The meeting is scheduled for a specific amount of uninterrupted time, i.e., 40 minutes, 90 minutes, or whatever time is necessary for the sales process.
  • That they will make a mutual conditional commitment on the decision (yes or no) to go forward with the purchasing process at the first meeting.

Starting the sales process at that point changes the dynamics of the typical appointment, and the relationship development process. By only working with prospects who need, want and can afford to buy – and are ready and willing to buy now – the salesperson can begin the meeting with the relationship development process with complete cooperation. The entire process is one of trust and respect for both the prospect and the salesperson.

Given the difference in the starting points and the conditions under which they meet the prospect, salespeople who utilize the High Probability Selling process have an unfair advantage over those who practice consultative selling.

It’s easy to recognize consultative salespeople. They are the ones who try to convince themselves, and then their prospect, that the only reason they want an appointment is for the opportunity to help the prospect.

Do you want to meet with interested prospects, or do you want to meet with prospects who want to buy your type of products and/or services? Do you want all the frustrations of overcoming sales resistance, or do you want to sell without pain. If you are in sales, you are making one of those choices every day.


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


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