Successful Sales Professional Kit: THE P.O.G.O. FORMULA

Even some very successful sales professionals have difficulty “firing” off a series of questions to a prospect they are meeting for the first time.


Still others struggle with asking for information without giving some first.

The P.O.G.O. formula will allow you to get involved in a conversational interview process that will be comfortable for you and the prospect.

P.O.G.O. gives you a track to run on and specific direction on how to best meet the “comfort-level” needs of the prospect.

Successful sales professional kit THE P.O.G.O. FORMULA


The P in the P.O.G.O. formula stands for person. The parameter for you as the salesperson who is interested in gaining trust and finding out wants and needs is to get (and give) information regarding the people involved in the sales process.

When you enter the prospect’s office to make the call in person, look for visual clues (pictures, trophies, office design) that will allow you to establish a “common ground.”

When you enter the prospect’s office via the telephone, a sincere compliment can be effective.

“The person who answers your phone was certainly pleasant” or something as basic as a sincere (as opposed to cursory) “Thank you for taking my call” will help get you off on the right foot.

Anything that expresses a sincere interest in the prospect will be valuable to you.

While you are designing a series of questions relating to the person, remember that it is okay to share some personal information about yourself, but you already know about you.

Give just enough information about yourself to express common interests but not enough to monopolize the conversation.

If you must have a rule of thumb, limit personal revelations to 25 percent of this part of the conversation. In other words, three parts prospect to one part salesperson.

The true professional, who really cares about prospects and clients, also gathers information for follow-up visits and calls.

Casually asking how the big game turned out or where the prospect and the spouse decided to have their anniversary dinner can go a long way toward letting others know that you really do care about them and will treat them as the very important people they truly are.

The key words to remember in the process are brief, warm, sincere, and friendly.



The first O in the P.O.G.O. formula stands for organization. As the conversation about the person draws to a close, move to the organization.

Again, probe gently, and be willing to talk about your organization in the places where you have positive common ground or you can sincerely compliment the prospect.

The same rule applies as in the “person” aspect of P.O.G.O.—25 percent about your organization to 75 percent about the prospect’s.

Now before I oversell that point, let me emphasize, I am not saying you cannot talk about your company.

Some prospects are very interested to know about you, and you need to give them enough information to build confidence that your company is solid and reputable.

However, do not monopolize the conversation. Your objective is to give them enough information to build that confidence . . . and to gather enough information to make you effective (i.e., make the sale).


The G in the P.O.G.O. formula stands for goals. This is the time for gathering information about personal and professional goals such as, “What do you plan to accomplish in the next six months?” and “What goals do you have in place for the next year?” (both open-door questions).

I would never accuse a prospect of “fibbing,” but I have known a few who would say what they perceived the salesman wanted to hear.

One of the greatest dangers in the Need Analysis portion of the sales process is to allow the prospect to throw up a “smoke screen” regarding true goals.

In all fairness to each of us, our human nature is such that when we are probed about our goals, our first tendency is to tell the questioners what we think they would like to hear or what we think they expect to hear (or that our goals are none of their business).

Many nonprofessionals are so pleased to get a response that they hurry along to the next part of the process. The true professional will continue to probe.

A useful probing question you will want to ask is, “Why would achieving that goal be important to you?”

Another way of asking the same closed-door question (confining to a specific goal) is, “What would achieving that goal mean to you?” and you may have to ask this question several times.


The second O in the P.O.G.O. formula stands for obstacles to reaching the goals just discussed.

As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said,

“If you want to meet someone who has no problems, no obstacles in life, just go down to the cemetery . . . and come to think about it, some of them have a tremendous problem.”

Everyone with whom we come in contact has problems. I once heard aman state, “You go up to anyone on the street and say, ‘I heard about your problem,’ and the person will ask, ‘Who told you?’”

The key doesn’t lie in not having problems (once again, we all have problems); the key lies in finding solutions to those problems.




When Jim Norman was the CEO of the Zig Ziglar Corporation (ZZC), he made a sales call with one of our reps, and the prospect was adamant about not being able to use our services.

As the two ZZC representatives neared the end of their allotted time, Jim asked, “As CEO of Zig’s company, I know that we face our share of obstacles. Would you be willing to share some of the problems your organization faces?”

Forty-five minutes later, they walked out with the sale.

ZIG WHO? People don’t want to hear Zig Ziglar speak or read Zig Ziglar books. People want to hear that there is hope in their future and read that no matter how bad “things” have been, they still have a chance.

People want “how to’s” that are practical and applicable in their lives. People are seeking information, inspiration, and direction in their lives.

People come to me because they believe that I might offer a solution to their problems . . . that I might help them overcome the obstacles. People will buy from you for the same reason.

Culled from the book, Ziglar on Selling: The Ultimate Handbook for the Complete Sales Professional