Tele-Sales Questioning: How to Purge Procrastinating Prospects (and spend more time with those who WILL buy)

Do you have prospects with whom you have been following up…and following up…and following up? And they keep putting you off…putting you off…and putting you off?

You know the kind I mean: those who dangle hope like a carrot on a stick. They need more time. They need to talk to one more person. They need to see more information. They need one more proposal. They need a revised quote.

They’re not prospects, they’re procrastinators. Stop playing their game and stop wasting your time by purging them from your call list. Call their bluff and determine if they are serious about proceeding or not. If not, get rid of them and spend your time with those who are serious about your services.

What are the Odds Technique

You achieve this with a nice, clean cut question that goes like this.

“Greg, we’ve been chatting back and forth for some time now including a proposal and a quote. And I think we’ve agreed it can help the productivity issues you indicated. Greg, so ion’t continue to ‘stalk’ you and waste your time and mine,  can you please level with me <pause> what are the odds of something happening with this sale over the next 30 days?”

This question does several things. First, it recaps the situation (‘talking for some time’) and it reminds the client of benefits the product has to offer. This step keeps the focus on the value of the product and explains precisely why you’re asking the question.

Next, the question forces the client to give a definitive answer. If the probability is zero, then don’t waste any more time in following up. Thank the client and move on. If the chances are relatively low and the prospect doesn’t elaborate probe by using this phrase:

“Greg, I am a little confused…”

Say no more than that and let silent gap work its wonder. Most people feel compelled to elaborate further. If the odds are better than 50% simply ask, “What will it take to make it 100%?”  Listen carefully to determine if the answers are firm and concrete or vague and evasive.

Thirdly, note a hint of humour  when you say you are ‘stalking’ but in the same breath you are indicating that you have been following up on other occasions. It’s a quiet dig.

And finally, the question positions the importance of YOUR time as well as their. Again, there is the subtle message that your time and effort has a value and constant follow up is not productive.


Procrastinating prospects can be very costly. You need to purge the good from the not so good. Be polite but be firm and ask the question!

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