How to get a tire kicker (meaning a bad prospect) out of your pipeline
Once it’s clear you’re dealing with a bad prospect, you’ll want to get them out of your pipeline as soon as possible so you can focus on more promising sales opportunities.
Sales legend Brian Tracy describes a friend, one of the highest-paid commission professionals in the US, who discovered enormous value in focusing only on productive leads by following the 80/20 rule.
This sales professional found that, while he usually divided his time equally across tasks, only about 20% of his sales activity was driving 80% of his sales results. When he assembled a profile of his top clients and began looking exclusively for customers that fit, he ended up doubling his income within a year.
You may be wondering how you can make every lead count when you have unprofitable tire kickers in your pipeline. The key lies in calling their bluff and getting to a hard “yes” or “no” without damaging your reputation in the process.
Here are a few diplomatic examples.
Scenario 1: Your prospect takes control of every sales conversation
What to say: “Given our lack of progress in resolving your problem, now might not be the best time for us to work together.”
What to do: Prepare an agenda before each interaction outlining the next step in your sales process. Then inform your prospect, firmly, what progress you’ll need to see from them the next time you speak — whether it’s getting their purchase budget approved or scheduling your sales presentation.
This approach will dissuade tire kickers from chewing up your time going over the same ground and will give you a tactful way to limit your conversations—or even halt them entirely with, perhaps, a promise to follow up in the future.
Scenario 2: You’re getting nowhere with your prospect
What to say: “I really don’t want to waste any more of your valuable time if I can’t be of help.”
What to do: Ask your prospect to fill out a form that fleshes out their buying needs: their challenge, the changes they’d like to make, their budget, their timeline and their experience with past or present suppliers.
Serious prospects, especially those who’ve invested a lot of time with you already, will be more willing to complete this task, knowing it’s moving them closer to a successful solution. Tire kickers, meanwhile, are unlikely to want to put in that kind of work.
Scenario 3: Your prospect isn’t able or isn’t willing to afford your product
What to say: “Based on what you’ve told me about your budget, I don’t believe our product is the right fit for your needs.”
What to do: Just because a sales lead is clearly kicking tires today, it doesn’t mean they won’t come looking for you when their purchasing power or pain point increases. Whenever possible, do your best to direct a bad prospect to a more economical option elsewhere or toward free tools and resources that may tide them over in the short term—but that means they’ll need your solution when they have the budget.
There comes a point in every sales process where a prospect must be prepared to do business. After multiple inquiries and endless follow-ups, don’t be afraid to ask your tire kicker straight up whether they intend to make a purchase, or not.