The sad truth is that not every prospect is good for business. Some will demand more time than they’re worth, outright refuse to buy, or just disrupt the regular flow of business. Engaging with bad prospects will erode your profitability in the long run. To maximize efficiency, it is important to identify the “tire kickers” and focus the bulk of your energy on prospects with a high likelihood of converting.
Do Your Research
One of the easiest ways to identify bad prospects is do a bit of research – the same research you should be doing on all prospects. Make sure the prospect fits into the target demographic of your typical customer. If you’re trying to reach top influencers (those who are highly involved in the business structure – i.e. chairmen, directors and officers), proper research can also reveal other helpful facts such as who their associates are and if they are associated with other businesses. If needed, you could also research their litigation to see if they have a history of litigation that may be concerning, such as breach of contract or debt suits.
Though you shouldn’t toss every prospect that doesn’t fit the mould, it can give you a rough idea of whether or not your product or solution will be a good fit for them. You may also pick up a few other tells that they might not be the right fit for your company, such as whether their company is too big or small, or whether they have the budget for your solution.
For the most part, though, it will be difficult to know whether a prospect is good or bad before you’ve spoken to them. But with the proper research, you’ll be able to ask the right questions. During the initial contact, it can be helpful to find out what, in their view, their biggest problem is and what their budget is for solving it, as well as how they feel your solution will solve their problem. This can help to identify prospects who either just don’t have the budget for your solution, or those who are expecting the moon for the price of a soda.
However, identifying unprofitable prospects can be relatively simple, and there are certain behaviours that should serve as warning signs:
As with most things in life, many people begin as they mean to go on, and if your prospect is unresponsive, there is a great chance that they will turn into an unresponsive client.
Sometimes, this lack of responsiveness comes down to the prospect having too much on their plate, leaving them pressed for time. Other times, the prospect is simply uninterested, and not far enough along in the sales funnel to close.
- Irrationality and Indecisiveness
Some prospects waste time by being unclear about their decision-making criteria, or by basing decisions on irrational factors. These prospects may change their minds at a moment’s notice or simply refuse to commit. Engaging with these prospects long-term will often do nothing but harm your business.
Building long-term relationships is vital for business, and prospects who are only focussed on the current deal can be difficult to pin down. From deal to deal, they will often be looking at multiple options and constantly weighing them.
- Overly Focussed on Cost
Though a focus on cost is not necessarily a bad thing, prospects with no eye for value – who focus on the cost alone without considering the benefits of the product or service – can waste a lot of time with no payoff.
In sales, there must be a balance of information, effort and energy, and it is better to avoid prospects who demand excessive amounts of your time and effort without any sort of reciprocity. A business’s most valuable resource is time, and when prospects demand hours of your time without some sort of payoff, it takes away from time you could have spent on other, more profitable prospects.
The truth is that not all leads are created equal, and while some prospects may blossom into good leads through nurturing, others simply aren’t a good fit, or worse, are trawling for information they need when reaching out to your competitors.