You've spent hours prospecting: researching, making warm calls, reaching out via email and on social media. If you have prospects who are dragging their feet or slowing a deal down, you might be working with a tire kicker.

The Cambridge Dictionary describes a tire kicker as, "someone who appears to be interested in buying something and asks a lot of questions, but doesn't buy anything."

Sound familiar?

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Tire kickers are the people who beat around the bush, haggle you for prices, and generally waste your time. These are the types of prospects you should remove from your pipeline ASAP so you can focus your time and energy on better opportunities.

Quality over quantity.

Working every deal might sound like the best way to close more deals, but your time is best spent on quality leads that have a higher likelihood of closing.

So, how can separate these tire kickers from well-qualified prospects? If tire kickers have you pulling your hair out, use these tips and strategies to identify them.

1. They don't match your target persona.

The first way to identify a tire kicker is to determine if they match your target persona or customer profile. Here are a few questions to consider when determining a good fit.

  • Are they in the industry or territory you're targeting?
  • Do they fit the demographics of the target persona?
  • Does your product or service fill a need for them?

If the prospect doesn't meet the criteria you and your team have set then they're not worth your time. This is one of the simplest ways to tell tire kickers from real prospects.

2. They haven't done their research.

Consumers and companies are more informed than ever and often research potential products and solutions before ever speaking to a sales rep -- this is true for B2B and B2C companies.

Prospective customers often have a general idea of what your business does and the value it provides to customers.

While you shouldn't rule out all cold leads (those who haven't shown interest in your business), you should keep in mind that it can take more time to nurture these leads. It's especially challenging if you're working with a prospect who seems disinterested right from the start.

It takes time and energy to educate prospects (e.g., discovery calls, sending emails, providing additional resources) on your product or service's value proposition. If you continue to work with poor-fit prospects that don't see value in your product or service, this cuts into the time you could be using to pursue viable leads that have a need or interest in your value proposition.

3. Their need isn't urgent.

Once you've identified the problem that can be solved by your product or service, it's time to determine how important this problem is to them.

  • Are they highly motivated to solve it?
  • Do they have a timeline for when the problem should be resolved?
  • Is there a different issue or initiative they care about more that will compete for their attention and decision-making capital?

If the prospect doesn't show a willingness to act or a pressing need to resolve their issue, then they might not be ready to work with you or make a purchase.

How to Identify Tire Kickers Infographic from HubSpot

4. They don't have the budget.

Tire kickers often come up with budget objections, which can be an indicator that they're not actually interested in purchasing your product or service. Or, they simply can't afford your product.

Sales expert Geoffrey James says, "a price objection isn't 'real' until the customer has brought it up twice." If a prospect has an objection, James recommends using the following soundbite:

"I hear you. The best products are often more expensive."

Using this response the first time you hear "it's too expensive" helps you separate the prospects who truly don't have the budget from those who are just kicking tires. It's easier to make a sale if the prospective customer has the budget and authority to make a purchase -- these are the people you should be dedicating the majority of your time on.

If there isn't a budget fit, let the prospect know, "Given what you’ve told me about your budget, I don’t believe our product is the right fit for you.” When possible, provide them with free tools or resources they could benefit from in the meantime. Just because they aren't a good fit now, doesn't mean they won't come back when the budget's right.

5. They waste your time.

When you finally get on the phone with a prospect, do they stray away (far away) from the planned agenda, or go off on unrelated tangents? You might be talking to a tire kicker.

While providing a personalized experience is crucial to building rapport with a prospect and earning their trust, it puts a strain on the salesperson to answer each and every question about the product or service, provide minute details about features, and offer consultative advice.

Sales expert and CEO, Pete Caputa, provides the following advice when it comes to protecting your time. He says, "While it's critical to ask your prospects what they want to talk about and incorporate those topics into the agenda, it's also important for you to have a goal for every sales call as well. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time talking to tire kickers."

It's key to outline an agenda for each call or meeting. But, if the prospect takes full control of the conversation every time you meet, it's challenging to make progress with them and can be a sign for you to walk away.

While this isn't an exhaustive list of ways to identify tire kickers, you'll save time by keeping them in mind throughout the prospecting and qualification process. Don't ignore the warning signs and your own intuition. If a prospect meets one or more of these indicators, they're likely kicking the tire and aren't willing to move forward with or commit to purchasing.

Once you implement these strategies, you'll start to relate to this tire kicker meme and smile knowing you're working with the best-fit prospects.

Remember, the best salespeople are those who can walk away from the deal early when they recognize it isn't a good fit. They use the time that would be spent on tire kickers nurturing better-fit prospects instead or prospecting to fill their pipelines with quality leads.

Looking for more tips? Check out this ultimate guide to prospecting next.

sales qualification

 sales qualification

Originally published Mar 27, 2019 8:30:00 AM, updated July 12 2019

Topics:

Sales Prospecting