Stop Selling to Losers! The 5 Power Disqualifiers

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John Paul Mendocha burned 80/20 into his muscle memory during his stint as a professional gambler in Vegas

After four years of working the Vegas strip as a professional gambler, John Paul Mendocha was sitting in a restaurant booth with a couple of gambling buddies. His two friends were having an argument:

“Yes you will.”

“No I won’t.”

“Yes you will!”

“No I won’t.”

Out came a Glock. The guy planted the barrel on the other guy’s skull.

“Yes, you WILL.”

John said to himself, “Self, if you don’t exit this shady business real soon, your sad little carcass is gonna wind up in a ditch somewhere.”

So literally one day on a Tuesday afternoon, he walked away from the seedy world of gambling forever. He moved to a different state and got himself a real job.

His sales manager hands him a stack of leads. “John, I want you to get appointments with all 206 of these people.”

Four years of hustling on the strip have burned 80/20 into John’s brain. He knows 80% are a complete waste. Only 4% are strong candidates. He just needs to find a way to sort them.

So John devised one. It’s called The Five Power Disqualifiers®.

All 80/20 sales and marketing mavens know: You must DISQUALIFY people who don’t fit. First.

If they don’t have the money, or your solution doesn’t fit, or if there’s no urgency, then there ain’t gonna be no sale. Ever.

John knew that out of 206 cold to lukewarm sales leads, less than 5%—probably no more than 10—were actually worth a face-to-face. Less than half of those would actually buy. If he called all 206 and asked them the right questions, he could save himself a huge amount of time, then spend the rest of his time delivering exactly what the real customers wanted.

John reduced the sales process to five essential requirements that are always present when a sale is made. I know of no one else who has distilled sales and marketing to such a small number of fundamentals:

1. Do they have the money? Some markets consist of people who have no money. Sometimes the very market itself is defined as a herd of moneyless people.

2. Do they have a bleeding neck? A bleeding neck is a dire sense of urgency, an immediate problem that demands to be solved. Right. Now.

If you want to make the big bucks, your product has to deal with something that involves one or both of the following: a) Pain and great inconvenience, loss of money, threat of loss, and / or b) some craving for pleasure that borders on the irrational.

If they’re not in a hurry, they’re not writing the check today.

3. Do they buy into your Unique Selling Proposition? If you’re just going into a market, the question is, what big benefit will they buy into? What kind of deal would they snatch up in a hot second? What benefit do they want that the other guys are not promising?

"What should I do next to grow my business this year?" Take my 2-minute quiz and I'll show you where you'll get the most bang for your buck.

A unique selling proposition (USP) is your unique answer to these questions:

•    What does your product do that nobody else’s product does?
•    Why should I buy from you instead of anybody else?
•    What guarantee can you make that nobody else can make?

4. Do they have the ability to say YES? I’ve got a friend who lost a bundle trying to sell a seminar to doctors. They had the money, bought into his USP, had a bleeding neck—most doctors were expressing grave dissatisfaction about financial matters that the seminar directly addressed—but it was almost impossible to get a piece of mail into any doctor’s hands.

Why? Because Helga the receptionist is intercepting their mail. She can say no, but she can’t say yes. Are you selling to an engineer who’s going to have to get approval from his boss? Are you applying for a job through the human resources department—knowing that HR can only say no, and only the VP can say yes?

5. Does what you sell fit their overall plans? If your service requires major brain surgery on the part of the customer, he ain’t gonna take your offer unless brain surgery is literally a lot less painful than the alternative (e.g., dying). Whatever you sell needs to harmonize with natural, existing forces—both on the inside and outside of your prospect’s world.

The Five Power Disqualifiers are exhibit “A” of 80/20 thinking. Each question gets rid of the bottom 80% of whomever you’re dealing with. When you’re honest with yourself about all five of these things, you’re automatically dealing with the tippy-top of the pyramid—less than 1%.

Sales is, first and foremost, a disqualification process, not a “convincing people” process! Step past the sick and the lame early in the game, and only deal with the healthy ones left standing. You will save yourself so much time.

Write the 5 Power Disqualifiers on a note card and pin it to your wall.

Test Fast. Fail Fast. Move On. Next, Next, Next.

Perry Marshall

“Rack The Shotgun: ELIMINATE and focus on who’s left” 

(Excerpted from 80/20 Sales & Marketing by Perry Marshall)

8020book_3d-smForbes Magazine says, “Perry Marshall has taken the Pareto Principle to the next level.” -Dave Lavinsky, Forbes, January 2014

“If you don’t know who Perry Marshall is, unforgivable.” -Dan Kennedy, author of No BS Sales Success

“One of the all-time top 10 business books to impact your bottom line.” –Bill Harrison, Bradley Communications

“I thought ‘Oh, I’ve heard this before. Another book about 80/20.’ Shame on me. It’s PHENOMENAL!” –Tony Rubleski, author of Mind Capture

“Perry Marshall is about to blow your mind!”–Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth

“Best marketing book I’ve read this decade.” –Bob Bly, author of The Copywriter’s Handbook

Get “80/20 Sales & Marketing” for 1 Penny

The Five Power Disqualifiers® is a registered trademark of Speed Selling Inc., and used under license.

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

25 Comments on “Stop Selling to Losers! The 5 Power Disqualifiers”

  1. #3 was a bit nebolous for me until I defined its opposite. What you’re trying to avoid is putting together a proposal for somebody with money/authority/a bleeding neck, then having him/her pass because “we’ll just do it ourselves” or “we’re going to go with [xyz] competitor”. Question 3 stems from “how do you eliminate everybody who’s going to do that to you.”

    So a good question to ask is “ok I get that this is a priority, but why not just do it yourselves” or “sure it’s an urgent situation, but there are a bunch of cheaper agencies that can provide [commoditized version of the solution]. Why just work with one of them?”

    1. For years I sold networking hardware where our #1 competitor was “Awww, we could just build that ourselves.” We called the “make vs buy decision.”

      On the surface it sounded like a hard objection to overcome – unless you fully understood what it took to get the design right. It would always take 3X as long and cost 3X as much money and worst of all divert a year of resources away from the main product the company was making.

      Once a rep took me in to see a customer and the customer said “We could make this ourselves” and I said “Yes absolutely you could. In fact why don’t I outline everything you need to do” and I went on to describe the 18 steps in detail…

      When we left, the rep said to me, “That was the most powerful sales pitch I’ve ever seen.”

      It was powerful because I empowered him to do it himself with some extra knowledge, and he realized it was a very unsavory proposition. And I didn’t have to push at all.

  2. John,

    “Do you need my product? Take it or leave it.” Yes – No. The next please.

    That’s exactly how most B2C sales go in the social democrat Nordic countries like Sweden/Denmark. Sales people ask you if you want something and that’s their best! No pushing and dog pony show. I personally feel freedom when i buy things in Denmark. I have purchased among other things house. The real estate agent i dealt with only answered to my questions and left me his brochure and name card and said ‘if you have any question, please contact me’. I made the purchase decision without stress. I loved it. I have a friend from Canada and she recently bought a car here. She had to ”beg” the dealer’s attention to communicate. She hates Denmark. My wife who is an American is specially sensitive about this ignorant sales approach. She goes for shopping and often irritates that she’s not asked what she’s interested in. She feels ignored when she buys things and often imagine how she would have been treated if she was in the US. But to me (as a non Dane) and to Danish citizens this sales approach leaves so much freedom and i think in 2016/2017 we, as customer, make much better purchase decision with help of smart phone/tablet and online reviews. I trust John Doe’s review more than that pushy sales person who concerns his commission. To my humble opinion pushy sales strategy is so old and unsustainable in future. But i’m sure it still works in many other parts of the world where digital literacy is low. I honestly avoid go to store/dealer when i visit USA. Even if i want to buy laptop/camera, I do it online because i feel being pressured after the sales guy’s “interrogation” at BestBuy in San Francisco. I’m often treated like someone who came from 1970 with time machine and he wastes my time and his time. It’s NOT efficient.

    My B2B sales experience. I recently wanted to buy a small office space at a business center in Copenhagen which is the capital city of Denmark. A sales rep answered to all my questions and asked my contact details. I gave her my number and left the premise. I didn’t like the place because of its skyrocketing rent. The rep called me a day after and i didn’t answer the call as i don’t want the place. She left a voice message and said if i have any more question, she’s ready to answer. She never called me again. She never interrupted me when i have dinner with my family. She probably DISqualified me. She saved my and her time. Efficient!

    An off-topic thing. I also like that people in Nordic countries are secular. They are neither atheist nor religious. They spend their Sunday with their family and friends. Not in church! Nordics seem to believe that you and the government are responsible for your life. They trust people and the state. Not someone in the sky will make your life better. When you remove religion from calculation, it makes the life so much easier, simpler and logical. And i agree the UN Happiness Report which declares Denmark as #1 happiest nation on earth.
    By the way, here’s a funny MAD TV sketch about salesmen:

    Have a nice 2017 everyone.

  3. Perry – I’ve enjoyed your book so far. This section of the book reminds me strongly of High Probability Selling by Jacques Werth and Nicholas Reuben. You three are the ONLY sales leaders I have seen strongly emphasize the importance of quickly DISqualifying prospects, and instead spending all of our time with high-value, high-likelihood of closing prospects. I wonder why your school of thought is not more pronounced, and the “ABC” “AIDA” “objection handling” approaches taught by the old grizzled sales vets still reign supreme.

  4. Hi Perry,
    One issue that I’m having with your page “” is thae fact that, if I’m in real estate industry, I know for sure I can advertise in facebook. However, those disqualifer don’t work for my industry. I’m struggling with what disqaulifiers I can set for sellers and buyers in my business. Any suggestion, any takers?

  5. Perry,

    Excellent post here, sir. I have your 80/20 Sales and Marketing book, and found it an eye-opener.

    Currently I’m reading Bryon Sharp’s book, How Brands Grow, and he has an interesting perspective on the Pareto Principle.

    He labels it the Pareto Law, and it’s 60/20: Slightly more than half a brand’s sales come from the top 20% of its customers. The remaining sales come from the bottom 85% of its customers (i.e. the Pareto law is not 80/20).

    Have you read it? If so, what do you think?

  6. i had a similiar experience with a company. There way of thinking was everyone could be “convinced to buy if you keep them talking long enough, etc..” but i preferred to qualify them as fast as possible. i.e are you liquid are you looking? No..move on. They would spend 20 min’s chatting crap to people only to be told “great chat but i have no (money/interest/desire) I would go through about 30 calls and 1+ appointments in this time.

    But they still hard time agreeing my method was best. They seemed stuck in the “trying to convince everyone” mode.

    I got out.

  7. Hi Perry,

    Part of your story is why I want to have my own company.

    In many companies, John Paul Mendocha would be fired. Why? Because he was not persistent in doing what the boss required, getting 206 appointments. JPM would be perceived as a maverick.

    And perhaps, since ultimately sales are the only thing that counts, if he had the chance to show stronger sales, the boss would wind up feeling threatened.

    What do you think and what would you do in such a situation?

    Fellow Chicagoan

    1. Scott,

      Most of the time John was so effective they were afraid to fire him. This is often the case with maverick sales people, who don’t follow the rules but still get results. If they won’t let you do what works, it’s the wrong company anyway.

  8. John,

    Consider buying the book, “High Probability Selling” by Jacques Werth:

    High Probability Prospecting is an identification process, not a selling process. Your goal is to identify high probability prospects and disqualify everyone else.

    You always want to be in a disqualification mode. Be determined to spend your selling time only with high probability prospects. Disqualify low probability prospects quickly and courteously.

  9. Great post. But I struggle with the “bleeding neck” one.

    I sell guitar and music courses. Some people have the desire learn so they can impress their friends and family. Would disqualifying prospects who don’t have this desire satisfy this? Is that really a bleeding neck? Or is it my job to turn it into one?

    1. “Bleeding neck” is about urgency. You can’t always judge it, especially with something like music. But somebody does get a burn to practice a guitar, you’ve seen that many times, and that’s when they buy. Whether that burn remains a long time is another matter.

  10. I would love to do it like this: “Do you need my product? Take it or leave it.” Yes – No. The next please. Next, next…
    Without any bullshitting around with sales copy, complicated sales funnel, persuasion, etc.

    The problem is – most of us are operating either in local markets or in niche markets. There are just not enough prospects to do this. We would eliminate 99% of them and then maybe 3 or 5 prospects would remain to do business with.

    This method is perfect for door to door vacuum cleaner salesmen or for somebody who is cold calling millions of prospects. It could also work if somebody tries to find the most responsive audience for his products/services, so he would try hundreds of different niches.

    Perry, could you give us some hint in which markets this is applicable, and which methods we could use except cold calling?

    1. John,

      The fact of people being un-qualified is in place ALL the time. This in some way shape or form applies to ALL sales situations. No exceptions.

      You can start by hunting for ANY reason why a person might not be a fit, or why you can’t help them – and then move on. Don’t do the dog and pony show. Just disqualify. THEN do the dog and pony show.

      Our page disqualifies on the very first step. You can use your own version of that in almost any market.

      For people who aren’t ready, you can nurture via marketing.

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