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  Sales Training Techniques

Q&A: Is Consultative Selling Compatible with
High Probability Selling?

Many salespeople like the 'consultant' role because it positions them as a valuable resource to the prospect. Regarding yourself as a consultant serves YOUR emotional need to distance yourself from the rejection faced by 'salespeople'. The fact is that you are selling something - if you weren't, you wouldn't even have contact with the prospect. No matter how you dress it up, you're still a salesperson working for commissions.

Q: How do you define "Consultative Selling"?

A: The term "consultative" selling was coined about 20 years ago. SPIN selling and its variants are based on the precept that you'll close sales when you convince prospects that the only way to alleviate their 'pain' is to purchase your product or service.

In High Probability Selling, showing customers how a product or service will fulfill their needs and relieve pain IS a part of the selling process, but it's a small part of the process. The fact is that most people who need what you're selling don't necessarily want it, or they do want it, but they don't want it NOW.

In HPS, prospecting is distilled down to "Is this something the prospect wants, and if so, how badly?" Will they make a commitment to buy it? A prospect who has decided that they want what you're selling has already identified their own needs and has already determined that they want the benefits your product /service provides.

Q: Is Consultative Selling compatible at all with High Probability Selling?

A: "Consultative Selling" is not entirely incompatible with High Probability Selling. There is a crucial difference, however. Some consultative Selling Techniques, designed to probe for needs and "pain," result in salespeople manipulating and persuading prospects that NOT purchasing their product /service will result in more pain. Selling into the FUD factors (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) is antithetical to the core tenets of HPS.

Q: As I understand HPS, you would not commit to doing the needs analysis unless you had commitment from the prospect. Is that correct?

A: Yes, you want a conditional commitment - If you can provide X,Y,Z, then the prospect will buy.

Statistically, prospects will keep their word to purchase if you can do what you said you would do. High Probability Selling grads sell 74% of their prospects. They don't close 100% of their prospects because sometimes people do not honor their commitments. (Sometimes, the product /service turns out to be inappropriate for that particular prospect also). Contrast our average 74% closing rate with the 17% experienced by they average salespeople; the results speak for themselves.

Q: You distinguish between "Want" and "Need". Please clarify.

A: If you look up need, want, and desire in the dictionary, you'll find the definitions are almost synonymous. One of the ways to differentiate is to ask 200 people to give you a list of their wants and a list of their needs. We found that the average number of needs is 22, and the average number of wants is about 4.5.

"Wants" are the top priorities. This is why we ask, "Is this something you want?" If someone has gone past Need into Want, they are a High Probability Prospect.

Q: Why does consultative selling run into ethical problems?

A: When you call someone up and start asking questions, you're really trying to sell them something. You tell yourself that the purpose is to solve a problem, but really, you don't want to help that person, you want to sell them something.

One of the poison words in selling is "help". Is your primary purpose to help that person? If not, you're straddling an ethical boundary. You want to sell, and the side effect is that your product /service is of benefit to the prospect.

As a side note, we've found that the top 1% of salespeople tend to be incredibly ethical. They will disclose the benefits and detriments of what they're selling. Full disclosure works, because if you only mention the positive, you're really lying by omission. People feel uneasy and suspicious hearing only the good - they'll assume you're lying.

Q: Does HPS work with low-ticket items? What's the cut-off point?

A: If it's worth it to take the time to meet with someone, it IS worth the time to go through the HPS process. In HPS, we ask for an hour of uninterrupted time. Keep in mind, also, that a single sale may not warrant the time involved in the High Probability Selling process, but the lifetime value of the customer may make it well worth your time.

Q: Does HPS work over the phone, or only in person?

A: Both work. .

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