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June 28, 2022

Wants VS Needs…and Introducing “Highly Likely To Buy”. Part Of A $500 Hour Long Consulting Call. Claude Whitacre.

Another consulting call for 60 minutes today. This time a young salesman selling home improvements…windows and doors. He had read my books on Closing Sales and Sales Prospecting, and had a list of questions. A couple of them (and my answers) I thought I would share. He had been selling for about 5 years, and was having good success. But another client recommended that he call me, to take his performance to the next level.


He asked me, “if I wanted to double my sales, which part of the sales process should I concentrate on improving; Prospecting, Presenting, or Closing?”

My answer (from memory) was:

“It’s all part of one process. But let’s say you are competent in all areas. Doubling your ability to close may take you from closing 40% to 45%….but it won’t double your sales. Being twice as good at demonstrating may add another 5 or 10% to your sales, but the law of diminishing returns sets in. And prospecting twice as much will double your sales, but it’s twice as much work. The single best way to jump start your sales is to find people that are “Highly Likely To Buy From You”.”

He said “You mean sell people who want what I sell, VS people who need what I sell?”

I said “Close. But the people who want what you sell just means they are at the end of their buying cycle, and it’s a matter of you being in the right place at the right time. People who are highly likely to buy from you don’t necessarily even know about your product, or that they even want it. It isn’t even a matter of wanting it, it’s a matter of being in the habit of buying the type of thing you sell…and being in the habit of buying the way you sell.

Let’s say that you sell weight loss supplements by infomercial. Your first thought may be that your best prospects are people who need to lose weight…obese people. But you would be wrong. Then it may occur to you that you want the people who want to lose weight. Closer, but there is a better audience for you. You want the people that are used to buying weight loss supplements, and have bought them repeatedly in the past. And you want the people who have bought these weight loss supplements by infomercial. Why? Because they are already used to buying what you sell, and they are used to buying the way you sell it….by the media you use.  They are already traveling in the direction you want them to travel.


He said “What about windows? I sell in people’s homes”


I said “You want the people who have already bought something from an in home salesperson. Something high end, that you could call a home improvement. Let’s see, how about people that have had a patio built, a room added, a kitchen remodeled, a new roof, siding, even a water purifier installed?   These people are used to buying from a person sitting in their living room, used to financing it, and used to buying the day that you see them. These people are more rare than you think. In my own business (vacuum cleaners) this was about 6% of the homeowners in my area. The lesson here is to not spend time trying to sell people that are less likely to buy..unless there is no other place to go, and they are the only lead you have for that day. Then, why not?’


He asked “How do you find these people?”

I said “Simple. talk to other salespeople that sell these other products. trade leads with them. If you would rather….just buy the list of their customers. As long as they don’t sell windows or doors, they won’t object. Offer a dollar a name. Mention that you won’t say where you got the name…and that you would eventually be calling that person anyway. Trade customer names if you like.

And when you call to make an appointment, just offer a really nice gift for their time.  You just want to see them. They don’t have to be interested in windows at this time. Most will agree to see you, making this the easiest sales prospecting you have ever done. Why will they see you? Because they are used to getting calls from salespeople…selling home improvements..and they are used to talking to them in their home.  The only person that is more willing to talk to you is someone who has already bought from you…your list of current customers.

When you show up, give your gift, and then ask them if they have ever had a representative selling home improvements talk to them before….and listen to their response. Let them tell you about their experience, the money saved, the convenience, the pride of ownership. Let them brag a little about the deal they got. Be impressed a little. Let them soak in the idea that buying something to improve their home is a great decision…one they should make again. And they get that feeling buy telling you about what they bought before.

The added benefit of asking about previous buying decisions is…they will let you know about any problems. If they hated the guy that they bought from last time…don’t you want to know?

But after you have sold several people from he list of previous home improvement buyers…ask them for referrals. Ask if the previous salesperson asked for referrals. If they did, get the names of the people that bought…not the referrals, just the names of the referrals that bought. This way, you can just keep seeing people who previously bought…and are used to buying…the type of thing you sell, and they are used to buying in the method that you sell…in this case, by appointment in their home.”

And I told my new consulting client that i raised my closing percentage from about 50% to over 80% by using this one method alone. I call it “Follow the salesman”. And I also told my new client that he wold see far more people, because the number of people that will see him (from these buyer lists) makes prospecting faster and easier. They are more fun to talk to, because they have less sales resistance. More likely to qualify for financing, less likely to want to negotiate price……And they are more likely not to cancel appointments and less likely to cancel sales once made. I told him that this method alone will make him more than twice the money he is making now….while investing no more time selling, than he is now.


I hope you can think of ways to apply this idea to what you sell. Take the principle, adapt them to your offer……and enjoy.


This “Follow the salesman” idea is spelled out in my book on Sales Prospecting.