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Remember these red flags to help identify tire kickers

Sales tips 3 min read

Ah, the tire kicker.

One of a salesperson’s worst nightmares!

A tire kicker is someone who will drag the sales cycle on…and on…and on while hogging your time and resources without ever actually buying. They’re a huge time suck — they’ll happily steal your time to ask questions, raise objections, and instill you with the false hope that they’re ever going to close.

Even if your pipeline isn’t at capacity, you’re far better off using your time on more profitable pursuits than entertaining these chatty Kathies. The key is to get to a hard ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as quickly as possible.

These red flags will help you know when it’s time to wave the white flag:

1. They broke as a joke

It’s not easy trying to figure out whether your prospect has the budget to dedicate to your product or service but you’ve got to get there as ASAP, or you’ll risk spending time on someone who can’t afford what you’re selling.

Ask the prospect what their budget is for this purchase.

If they can’t give you a reasonable range (or a range at all) then you could be dealing with a tire kicker.

You also need to watch out for tire kickers who work for companies with big, fat juicy budgets, but the individual himself doesn’t have the authority to purchase. This isn’t an immediate disqualifier. Lots of employees are tasked with doing purchasing research. But, if the employee has decided to strike out on their own to find a solution and try to convince a superior that it’s a worthy expense, you could be facing a more difficult (or impossible) sale.

2. They love to schmooze

These guys (and gals) will steal as much of your time as humanly possible. They want to ask tons of questions about your product or service, hear about every feature, take a peek at the roadmap, and talk integrations.

They want to know about your kids, your golf handicap, and your alma mater. They’ve got opinions on everything and they looooove to schmooze. Schmoozers are time wasters if they’re not taking actions to move forward with the sale. Be firm and keep them on track.

3. They got 99 problems but time ain`t one

Just like with budget, if someone can’t give you an idea of their timeline to purchase, it means there’s a good chance they aren’t serious buyers. You ideally want to talk to someone with a desperate, burning, urgent need or problem they need to solve, stat.

4. They raise the “stranger danger” alarm

We talk about customer personas a lot in sales and marketing. Here’s yet another reason why they’re important. If you have established, validated customer personas then you’ll be able to spot when someone you don’t ‘recognize’ comes strolling into your pipeline. Then, it’s time to do some heavy qualification to help you (and the prospect) uncover whether you’ll be able to help them.

5. They want free lunch

Look, I know you’ve heard all of the top sales and marketing folks hawking the ‘consultative approach’ to selling for awhile now. It works! But the caveat is that you have to make sure you’re not just giving away consulting time to someone who will never, ever convert.

By themselves, each of these red flags isn’t necessarily indicators that a prospect is a waste of your time. But when you start to see these red flags appearing in twos and threes, it’s time to step on the gas and accelerate the sales cycle so that you can get to a hard ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the prospect.

Weed out the tire kickers by enabling a better end-to-end sales process.

Kathleen Smith

Kathleen Smith

Kathleen is a marketing and sales consultant for high growth startups. She provides strategies, tactical plannings, and content for startups, SMB and enterprise companies.

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