Interview of David Bullock about High Probability Selling
This is an interview of David Bullock conducted by Nancy Preiss in May 2006, regarding his experiences learning and using High Probability Selling (HPS).
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Transcript of Interview
Preiss: This is Nancy Preiss at High Probability Selling, and this is the first of a series of interviews we'll be doing with High Probability graduates - talk about how they are using High Probability Selling and how it's affected their business. Today we're talking with David Bullock of Results Squared Marketing.
Well, it's been a while since you've taken the High Probability sales training. How long has it been?
Bullock: Oh gosh. I took that course back in 1997. Actually, almost ten years ago.
Preiss: Almost ten years ago! Well, do you remember the training?
Bullock: Oh absolutely. The training, the High Prob Training is so fundamental to the selling process. Oh definitely. I mean you're looking for those people who want, need and can afford what you have to offer and you want them to state it and actually, self-select and step forward.
Preiss: Absolutely. We couldn't say it better ourselves. Now when you started - can you remember what selling was like before you took the training versus immediately after? What's the first thing you noticed?
Bullock: First of all, the confidence to be able to speak to a prospect. You know a prospect is someone who, again, self-selects. Up until that point, you were going out and hoping that someone kind of, sort of, maybe wanted your offer, and at point I was selling industrial equipment. So, you know, you get on the phone and you called, hoping that you got to the right guy and would hope that he grant you an appointment, where soon after the High Prob course, I'd go into a place and say look, this is what I have. Is that something that you want? What do you want to do next? And all the pressure went away from me to that guy to decide if this is something he wanted to move forward with. If he didn't want to move forward, that's fine. If he did, that was fine too. So then I would have to figure out how my offer fit with what they were trying to do - and could I actually fulfill the commitment that I had in the conversation.
Preiss: So, it sounds like what you're saying, the most immediate impact this had on the way you sold was in being able to quickly qualify or disqualify prospects.
Bullock: Oh, yeah, you'd get rid of them quickly. If the guy was in a “maybe” or “uh, I don't know,” he was just not a prospect. And that's okay. No emotional attachment one way or another. He just wasn't a prospect. People would let you know very quickly whether they're a prospect or not, and with that the stress goes away. You're not feeling like you're trying to sell someone something. You know, they want what you're looking to sell them, or better yet they want to buy what you have.
Preiss: Well, anybody who's selling wants to find people like that, don't they?
Bullock: Exactly. You want as many of those people as possible.
Preiss: Now you're talking about the prospecting a lot, and that's the first thing just about everybody who comes to us at High Probability asks about. So my follow-up question would be, What about the rest of the sales process? Once you have somebody who you've determined wants, needs and is ready to buy what it is that you're selling, how is High Prob different - or what do you use what you learned in High Prob during the rest of the sales process.
Bullock: Well, there's two things there. There's a Trust and Respect Inquiry, and that can be pretty much - I mean there's a standard form which is in the training, but really, you ask some questions to find out who in the world this person is. Like, who are they? - because you only want to do business with people who you can trust. And, you go through that piece and you really get to know your prospect; to know, you know, who is he.
Once you have that part down, then it is basically a matter of going back to the conversation that you had, and making sure that whatever it is that you've committed to, or that they're expecting, can be, you know, written down on a piece of paper. You both agree to it. You know exactly what you're committing to, and what they're expecting. Your promises are already written out, and then that becomes your contract to move forward.
Now, that's a preliminary piece. I mean that I used to call it a Letter of Agreement that I would write out with my customer, and then, of course, it may go to the other part - where you have big, long contracts and project POs and that type of thing, but I found it always comes back to that original conversation that you had with that guy or that group, you know, to basically fit in and delineate and specify that particular project. So you've got to get that all ferreted out first; otherwise you really don't have a sale.
Preiss: So it sounds like a two parter: One is to qualify them as far as whether or not they want to buy what you're selling, and the second part is to qualify them just as a person- how they go about doing their business.
Bullock: Exactly. I mean, people do business with people. I mean, there's this idea that, you know, like the Internet is going over, like people are going to be taken out of the sales process. No matter where you go, it is salesmanship. And salesmanship is all about, you know, communication, commitment, trust, and respect.
Preiss: Okay. Now, when you took the training, you were selling industrial equipment.
Bullock: Right. I was selling robots for a capital equipment company to the OEMs that make cars here in the Southeast.
Preiss: So, High Prob did fit in with what you were doing at the time.
Bullock: Oh yeah. Before I took the High Prob training, I had taken some of the other trainings that were in the marketplace. Very interesting. You know they tell you to go find the “economic buyer” and the “user buyer” and “the coach.” I had situations where the actual economic buyer was in Japan. Now there's no way that I'm going to get to them when they're in Japan. Okay. So the High Prob model was more appropriate for the type of sales that I was doing within that particular customer base.
Preiss: One thing you did mention was “group” and meeting with the person or a group of people. We get asked a lot about the relevance of this process to penetrating larger accounts where there do tend to be a number of people who are either decision makers or strong influencers. So did the High Prob training work with -
Bullock: Oh yeah.
Preiss: - obtaining large accounts?
Bullock: As you move into the more advanced skills with High Prob, you just begin to ask questions of the person you're dealing with, who else do we need to talk to to get this approved? And immediately, all those people who are hiding that may be influencing the deal, they become unearthed very quickly. It's not stressful. It's like, look, we're about to do business here. I know you. You know me. Okay, I've made my presentation. You know exactly what I'm here to offer. It's all on the table. Now, who is it that you need to talk to get approval so we can move forward. Do we need to go together? Do I coach that person; tell them exactly what to say?
And, usually for me, if I couldn't get to the people that I wanted to speak with - not wanted to, needed to speak with, such that this deal could move forward, then I would know that the deal was not going to move forward, because invariably that individual would always take my story and not speak it the way it needs to be spoken, and so, he comes back. Who do we need to speak to so that we can do this, because you say that you need this for your - you know, for them to have a personal win.
That's another thing about High Prob. You also find out very quickly what's the personal win for that person that your dealing with. You know, you need to know why do they want or need to do this deal, because if you can make that happen, you ensure a better future for that person.
Preiss: So it sounds like really what this enabled you to do was to take control of the process, and the people involved in it on the client's side.
Bullock: Oh yeah. Very easily, with no manipulation or stress. No stress! It's like, “Hi, this is what I have, this is what it does,” and “how can we work together?” Or not! And that's the thing. That “or not” gives you such a power within the conversation that it becomes stress-free.
Preiss: And, as you transitioned from being a salesperson, a successful salesperson in manufacturing, to now you're doing a service business of your own.
Bullock: Um hum.
Preiss: So, that's a whole ‘nother ball game, to one of selling a service, and to actually be selling yourself. How did what you learn translate into selling a service and yourself?
Bullock: Well, at first it wasn't the easiest transition, because a hard, tangible product is very different than a service, but as I've grown into just the business ownership piece of it, it's become extremely easy to be able to say, “Okay, for my service to work with said prospect, you need to have this amount of traffic, or this amount of budget, or these things in place. If you don't have these things in place, then you're really not a prospect.”
And I can have people off of the phone within five or ten minutes, knowing that they're a prospect or not.. but the funny thing about it is that they'll say, “When I'm in a position to deal with you and/or to pay your fees, I'll give you a call.” So they're not basically cut off, you know, almost in a rude fashion. But they're cut off or disqualified in such a way that you're still friendly and they want to hear from you again.
So, the skills translate very easily, because it comes down to communication, qualification, disqualification, finding out who the person is, dealing with anything that you find there, and then asking them, “Do you want to move forward in this process” to get to the next step, which could be, you know, the close. You know a lot of people will ask you, well, “Can you write me up a proposal?” Well, no. Either you want what I have or not. You know what it is, and here's how much it costs. If I'm able to show you or demonstrate to you adequately that I can fulfill in this way, there's no reason why you can't move forward.
And I find that that translates for both hard goods where it is extremely easy to see what something does, as well as to the intangibles when you're selling a service and saying, “Well, this is what I do. If I can show you evidence of this is what I do, let's move forward.” Works like a charm.
Preiss: Well that's good. Hard to fight with that one, isn't it?
Bullock: The thing is, more than anything else, if you - most salesmen don't have enough people to talk to, and that's usually where the problem comes. If you switch, if you go to the other side of that same question, where you're saying “Okay, it's not so much that I have too few people to talk to: The question is, how few people are really qualified to talk to me.” Once you adopt that mindset, then the table turns, because you're almost looking for people to say “no” to, as opposed to people to say “yes” to. You're disqualifying, as opposed to qualifying. Different ends of the same question.
Preiss: You come across as sounding extremely confident - and is this just who you are? Is this something that you've grown into over the years, or to what do you attribute that?
Bullock: Well, I remember when I sat there on the phone. This was back in 1997, when I first got this particular sales job. I was working out of my home. I'm on the phone. I'm dancing. I'm cold-calling, and I'm hoping that somebody, just anybody, would give me an appointment. Okay.
And I fast forward to after taking the High Prob training, when it's like “okay, if you say no, that's great, because somebody here is - there's a customer or prospect that I really want to talk to. I just haven't found them yet.” When you adopt that mindset, you can't help but become confident.
Now what happened that first year in sales was not successful at all. I think we only did about $300,000.00 total in business. Soon after I took the High Prob training. I was able to close my first half-million dollar deal, then a million dollar deal. When it was all over, I had done like a hundred million dollars in sales, and I attributed that to be able to walk away from deals that didn't make sense, qualify quickly, disqualify even quicker, and then just continue to move forward, because what I found is when you would actually sell a deal or sell a transaction the right way, where there was full disclosure, trust and respect was there, you actually become friends. And those people would then start to refer you, either within the organization or outside the organization. You start to move forward and that type of situation, this energy can't help but create a confidence, in this is my offer and this is what it does. Do you want it or not? I mean it's really simple. That's really what it comes down to.
Preiss: Well today, what is your offer today in doing Results Squared?
Bullock: My offer right now is that I work with business owners to help them with their online conversion rates on their websites. Essentially what that means is, I work and talk with them, find out where their traffic is, find out what their conversion rates are, meaning how many sales they are making from their website as a ratio against views or actual people who come to their websites for visits. And what we do is, we essentially develop the baseline, find out where they are and then from there we actually test, using something called the Taguchi method, which is basically something that was borrowed from mathematics and manufacturing, appropriating it now over to marketing and sales consulting. So what we do is work with them; we test their website in different configurations. So we find out exactly what we call the optimum configuration is, and that may yield say, if the guy was running at a 5 percent conversion rate, he may pop up to a 50 percent increase from there or even a 200 percent increase from there, and he just continues to, you know, enjoy those increases and increased sales throughout. That's what we do.
Preiss: In case anybody listening to this is needing exactly what you're selling, how would they get in contact with you?
Bullock: Well, you can go visit at Results-Squared.com. If someone's interested they can also call me on my phone at 615-867-3424 and I'll be glad to discuss anything along the lines of, you know, website conversions and/or selling processes.
Preiss: Well great. Thanks very much for taking time out of your growing and increasingly successful business to talk to us.
Bullock: No problem. Thanks, Nancy.