Is your prospecting strategy holding you back?

By Jacques Werth

High Probability Selling


An experienced insurance agent called me last week and said, "I've been in financial services most of my adult life, and I've never made a satisfactory income."

"How come?" I asked.

He said, "I spend about eight hours a week cold-calling, and I send out thousands of marketing pieces every month. I get about six or seven appointments a week and I only average about two sales a month, for an average commission of about $2000. I should be able to persuade a higher percentage than that to buy."

"If those two sales a month were big ones, you could be doing quite well; however, it is unrealistic to think that you can persuade someone to buy who does not already want to buy. So, what else do you think the problem is?" I asked.

He said, "If I knew what my problems were, I wouldn't be calling you."

"Most agents close from 13 percent and 17 percent of their prospects. You are within that range, and your income is slightly higher than the average agent. Furthermore, you have industry experience and you get on the phone to prospect. So, you have a good foundation to build on. However the quality of your prospects and your closing average has to increase."

Low probability prospects

Most agents and reps try to get every prospect interested so that they can meet with them and try to turn them into a client. The flaw in that strategy is that prospects who are merely "interested" seldom buy. Yet, they do occasionally make a sale. Then, it is easy to be deceived into thinking that, because they made the sale they must have done something right. That is why most agents and reps spend most of their time and resources on "low probability prospects" (LPPs). So, they continue to seek appointments with LPPs, occasionally close one, and that results in low closing rates and inadequate income.

High probability prospects

The reality of selling is that the vast majority of prospects who buy already want the benefits of the products and services that they buy. That is why, when you get a new client, it is usually surprisingly easy to do business with them. You have unknowingly stumbled upon a "high probability prospect" (HPP). Someone becomes a HPP for you by being exposed to information about your type of products and services from many different sources, often over a long period of time. The winning strategy is to find prospects who want what you are selling, now.

Prospects buy in their own time for their own reasons

It is important to be in contact with prospects when they are ready, willing, and able to buy. They seldom buy because someone persuaded them to buy. If you meet with a prospect too soon, before they have decided that they want what you have to offer, it is unlikely that they will ever become your client.

You have to be in touch with your prospects frequently so that you are there when they are ready. This requires a prospecting process that is designed to inform them of your capabilities and to find out if this is what they want -- now. Your prospecting process should not be designed with the intention of getting an appointment before the prospect is ready to buy. That way, you will spend most of your selling time with high probability prospects.

Your prospecting calls must be extremely brief and must leave prospects with a positive experience. That way, you can make a very high number of calls in a short period of time. It will build favorable front of mind awareness for you, which will eliminate most competition.

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