Ask the Cleansing Question to Clean Up Your Follow-Up File

Quote of the Week

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
~ John F. Kennedy

Ask the Cleansing Question to Clean Up Your Follow-Up File

by Art Sobczak

A question I received through email asked, “I’ve got a lot of prospects pending, but not a lot closing. What should I do?”

Like many questions I get, that’s extremely vague and requires a lot more information before I could give a specific detailed answer. But it did get me thinking about a possible reason, and remedy.

I call it the Cleansing Question. Let me set it up first.

What percent of the people in your follow-up file at this very second do you feel will ever do business with you?

Sixty percent?

More? Less?!

You’re fairly typical if you answered 50% or less. It’s not a good percentage, but typical.

Why? Oh, there are several reasons. Reps like to hang on to prospects, thinking that shred of interest might eventually turn into something. They’re right: Disappointment, and a waste of time, usually.

Others stake their claim to prospects, tattooing their name on the prospect’s record in the “system,” just in case divine intervention comes into play and the person decides to call up and order on their own. These reps then usually pounce upon the order and say, “It’s mine. See, has my name on it.”

Ask the Cleansing Question
But, the main reason reps have too many “leads working” is that they don’t ask the tough questions early enough. You need to find out if the person you’re talking to is really a “player.” It’s always better to get a “no” early, than to waste time, effort, paper, and postage chasing shadows that never will materialize.

Here is what you need to do starting today.

Begin cleaning up your “non-prospect” prospects now. Ask this Cleansing Question, “Mr./Ms. Prospect, we’ve been talking for awhile now, and have agreed that we’d be able to help you (fill in with how they would benefit.) I want to be sure I’m not bothering you, or wasting your time or mine. Tell me, what is the probability we’ll be able to work together in the next month?”

Think of the possible results here.

  1. They say, “Zero probability.” Great, now at least you can find out the real problem, or move them out. Movement, forward or out, is progress.
  2. They give some other probability. Good, but not great. You want to ask what you both need to do to move forward now. Get specifics. Commitments. Ask them to attach time frames to the commitments. Don’t allow them to continue putting you off. Again, movement here is success.
  3. You just might get the business right now. Perfect. Sometimes all it takes is the nudge to get the boulder rolling down the mountain.

Do some first quarter cleaning. Examine your follow-up files. Prepare you own strategy and ask the Cleansing Question.

Go and Have Your Best Week Ever!

Art Sobczak, Business By Phone Inc., provides how-to ideas and tips for rejectionless prospecting, selling, and servicing by phone. Get the free ebook, “29 Sales Tips You Can Use Right Now” at

Coaching Call to Action

While Art’s process may be too pointed for you, I recommend you create a plan/system to look at your pipeline regularly and realistically and cull out those who aren’t real prospects.  Then, focus on those who are and get clear on what you need to do, provide, ask, or tell them so that they become clients.