Are you tired of prospects who seem keen but end up stuck in your pipeline forever? You’re probably dealing with a couple of tyre kickers.
It makes no sense really, as 9 times out of 10 they’re engaging, asking questions, even throwing in the odd haggle for good measure. So, why don’t they ever move forward with the process?
Because they don’t want to.
As well as crushing your sales team’s hopes and dreams, it’s a massive waste of time and resources. The more time spent on those who never have the intention to purchase, the less time spent with prospects really are interested.
Here’s some tried and tested strategies to avoid starting conversations with these pesky prospects, as well as some tricks in how you can identify them in the first place.
Do some background research
Each prospect has different needs, we all know that no single pitch is ever the same. But there are a couple of generic questions you can throw in to nip any time wasting in the bud.
Ultimately, when you first start talking to a prospect, there are no bad questions to ask (providing they’re relevant of course - nobody cares about what they’re having for tea…)
Start with the basics. What’s their role in the business? Do they currently use something similar to your solution or are they even familiar with it? What does their day-to-day look like?
In doing so, you look like you’re showing a genuine interest in their specific pain points, which is actually true, but you also get a good idea of what it is they want from you.
If they’re genuine, you’ll get a feel for where they land in your sales funnel and you’ll be able to tailor their buying journey accordingly. If they’re not, just be direct. There’s no love lost at this point.
In saying that, being direct doesn’t mean you have to be rude. Just let them know you don’t think this is a particularly good fit right now, etc, etc.
This will actually build up an element of trust with this prospect, as they’ll know you’re not just willing to sell for the sake of selling, you know, if they ever do actually want to get down to business.
Defining customer profiles
The good old customer profile. Where would we be without them?
If you haven’t established an ideal customer profile yet, now’s a good time to start. They help keep the sales & marketing team focused when it comes to prospecting, as they know what they should be looking out for and how best to tailor their sales activity.
Start with your existing customers. Who’s the most successful with your product and what are their key characteristics? If you can rinse and repeat this process, you’ll find the prospects out there most likely to buy.
Once you’ve agreed on this customer profile, you can create one or two qualifying questions your sales team can use to determine whether they fit the bill or not. You can get your marketing team in on the action two. Add them to any forms you might have on your website or sneak them discreetly into your email/ social campaigns.
Any click throughs and other inbound leads you get from this will be qualified before they’re even passed through to the sales team. Making a more efficient, aligned marketing strategy.
If you need help with this, check out how CANDDi can bridge the disconnect between your sales & marketing departments.
Whether they’re wasting your time or just fun and chatty, some prospects can talk forever. As nice as it might be, you can’t just sit there listening.
As a salesperson, you need to be able to exude authority. Nobody wants to buy anything from anyone who doesn’t seem like an expert in what they’re selling.
With great power comes great responsibility, and yours is to take control of the situation and keep things directed towards a conversion.
This doesn’t mean you can’t establish a relationship and rapport with them, but every now and again remember to steer things back by asking a relevant question. The classic “I’m sorry, what did you say xyz was? I must have missed it” will bring the conversation back on track and identify who you’re talking to.
Identify the decision-maker
Hopefully, if you’re following our previous advice, you’ll know early on whether you’re talking to a key decision-maker or not.
This is important as they’re quite literally what they say they are. They make the decisions. So if you’re getting through to them, you’re on the right track.
However, many people will have you believe that if you’re not talking to a decision-maker, you’re talking to someone who won’t be buying your product. This isn’t always the case.
Many decision-makers are busy people. They don’t always have the time for 30 minute demos on something that may or may not be right for their business. They often send out their minions to do their research for them.
That’s why it’s important to establish who you’re actually talking to, and why. Just because someone is an assistant or executive, don’t be snobby. They might be on a mission set by their Director to see if you’re worth their while.
But you want to make sure you don’t get forgotten about either. It’s a fine line. Ask for a direct introduction to the key decision-maker.
This will allow you to present a refined sales pitch to the person who will purchase, instead of having your offering pitch regurgitated by someone who doesn’t know your product.
If the prospect isn’t willing to pass you to a decision-maker, they’re just kicking tires. Harsh, but true.
Track your sales cycle
By tracking your average sales cycle, you’ll be able to identify who are the slow buyers.
Sales metrics are a great way of seeing who’s engaging with what, when and why throughout their buying cycle. If they’re not doing much, you can bet that’s because they’re not interested.
But sometimes people can just be busy. We’re all about the benefit of the doubt. So, to get to the bottom of it, you can get even more specific by monitoring the time it takes for prospects to convert through the different stages of your sales pipeline.
This way, you’ll be able to see when a prospect is getting stuck, allowing you to respond accordingly.
Say hello to an autoresponder
Like we said, sometimes genuine prospects do just fall through the cracks.
It’s harsh to blacklist someone forever, so save your time and efforts by enlisting the help of our robot friends. The autoresponder.
If you’ve got several prospects floating around in your pipeline, you’ll be silly to waste time with manual follow-ups, set up automated email sequences to try and nurture them back round. After all, perseverance is key.
If you’re worried about the lack of personalisation here, don’t worry! You can tweak each sequence per each prospect. Whether that’s by geography, industry or need for your business.
In doing so, you know that these prospects are being contacted regularly, but they’re not taking up your brain power or diary slots.
At the end of the day, the sooner you can get rid of tyre kickers from your pipeline, the sooner you can start closing deals.
This starts at the very beginning of your sales process. You need to optimise who gets into your sales funnel to start with, then keep a keen eye over your pipeline and use our tips and tricks to make sure you’re never wasting your time again..