Win Probability is the First Rule of Ultra-High Sales Performance – Guest Post0

The Pipeline Guest Post – By Jeb Blount
Author of Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal

Imagine that you are standing in the doorway to a large room. At the far end are two identical dollar slot machines. As you walk in, the room attendant hands you a single dollar coin. You are offered the choice to play either machine. You’ll get to keep the original coin plus any winnings.

As you walk toward the machines, you notice something curious. Above each one there is a sign with a number on it. One sign reads 93 and the other 33. You turn back to the room attendant and ask, while pointing up at the signs, “What do those numbers mean?”

“Smart of you to ask,” the attendant replies, smiling. “Most people never do.”
He continues, “Those signs indicate the win probability of each machine. On the first machine, you have a 93 percent probability that you will win your dollar back plus more. With the second machine, you have only a 33 percent chance of winning.”

Which machine will you choose? Of course, it’s a no-brainer. The smart bet is on the machine that gives you the highest probability of winning.

Managing probability is how ultra-high performers play sales.

Average salespeople look in awe at the performance of ultra-high performers, believing that UHPs have somehow defied the odds. The truth, though, is UHPs bend the odds in their favor.

Poetry and Probability

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every sales situation. Complex sales are different from one-call closes. Calling on a business is different from selling a car. Selling software requires a different skill set than selling office automation equipment.

In sales, context matters. Every prospect, sales conversation, territory, company, and product is different and requires salespeople to adapt and adjust to those unique situations.

There is no black and white. There is no easy button that will make sales work perfectly every time. In some situations, you’ll do something completely inappropriate and still manage to close the deal. In others, you’ll run the sales process like a textbook and fall flat on your face.

It’s what I find so beautiful about sales. There are no guarantees, no magic pills, no holy grail. There is only poetry and probability.


There is poetry in emotion. It is the glue that connects all the disparate elements of the sales equation. Emotion is sales process agnostic. It influences sales outcomes across industry verticals, deal complexity, inside sales or field sales, any product or service, and in both business-to-business and consumer environments.

It’s the ability to manage and leverage emotion to create the highest statistical chance of winning that separates ultra-high performers (UHPs) from everyone else.

UHPs never forget that they are dealing with emotional, fallible, irrational human beings. They work hard to gain a deep understanding of the motivations, desires, needs, wants, fears, aspirations, and problems of each stakeholder.
In sales, perceiving, interpreting, and reacting to your own emotions and the emotions of stakeholders are critical capabilities. Sellers must learn to manage their own disruptive emotions and respond appropriately to the emotions of stakeholders, resident within the logical, linear, systematic sales and buying processes. This is the true genesis of competitive differentiation.

Mastery of sales-specific emotional intelligence (Sales EQ) explains why one person becomes an ultra-high sales performer while another is just average, even though the intellectual ability and knowledge of the two people are equal.

Ultra-high performers are virtuosos with people. They shift win probabilities in their favor through perceiving, controlling, managing, and influencing nonconforming, irrational, human emotions. They possess a toolbox full of influence frameworks along with the agility to apply them in any situation to improve the probability of getting the outcome they desire.


Your ability to shape and influence win probabilities is the only reason you have a sales job.
Consider a potential buyer opening your company’s website to look for a product; if, when they open the product page, the probability that they click a buy button, enter a credit card, and make a purchase is north of 80 percent, you would be unemployed. Your company would need only to focus its resources on getting more potential buyers to that page.

Purely transactional purchases don’t require salespeople to shape the win probability. However, the more complex the sale, the longer the sales cycle, the higher the dollar amount, the greater the risk to the stakeholders, and the more emotions are involved in the decision to purchase, the more companies need salespeople who are intelligent, creative, insightful, influential, and persuasive to shift win probabilities in the organization’s favor.

Admittedly, sales would be much easier if there were signs over prospects indicating win probability. But alas, prospects are not slot machines and, unlike slot machines, in sales win probability is fluid, complex, influenced by many variables, and impossible to know with certainty until, of course, the deal is lost or won.

For this reason, ultra-high performers take nothing for granted. They’re constantly checking, testing, and analyzing where they stand with the opportunities in their pipeline. UHPs are perfectionists, managing every element within their control to shape, influence, and bend the win probability curve in their favor.

Jeb Blount is the author of eight books including Sales EQ, Fanatical Prospecting, and People Follow You. He is a Sales Acceleration specialist who helps sales organizations reach peak performance fast by optimizing talent, leveraging training to cultivate a high-performance sales culture, developing leadership and coaching skills, and applying a more effective organizational design. Contact: 1-888-360-2249 or https://www.SalesGravy.com

Leave a Comment

wordpress stat