4 Tips to Help You Identify True Prospects vs. Tire-kickers. Save Time to Focus on Real Sales Leads.
July 17, 2012
Don’t be frustrated, we’ve all been there at some point…
By Maureen McCabe
How do you attract new customers? Do you offer a free consultation or complimentary assessment? How do you identify a real lead or prospective customer from a time-wasting tire kicker? I’ve learned the hard way and share my lessons learned.
When you are contacted by prospective customers you likely regard them as sales leads. You’re optimistic that they will hire you or buy your product. Right? Why else would they be contacting you? Maybe to pick your brain…?
Walking a tightrope tightrope – is too much free advice hurtful or helpful?
When offering a free consultation, it is helpful to share your knowledge and expertise. Too much “free advice” can be a waste of your time. There is a balance. A short 20-minute session enables you to screen and identify potential customers. Although they may not hire you, I have had a referral and some nice comments on my blog.
TIP 1: Free phone consultations maximize your time.
TIP 2: Don’t give away the store – they are expecting advice only. This is not the time to share your strategies and secrets – otherwise they won’t hire you. (I’m speaking from first-hand knowledge.)
Every business owner I’ve met says they never have enough time. Like you they are busy running their businesses each day, evenings, and some weekends. You likely never have enough time or energy left for marketing and business development.
As a business owner typically you work harder and longer hours compared to when you were a full-time employee. I know that from experience and in hindsight many of us took for granted that a pay cheque (or for Americans, a ‘check’) would be deposited in our bank account every second Friday.
As a self-employed person or small business owner when you get a sales lead – someone who contacted you for help, you’re hopeful that they will immediately hire you or buy your product. Well maybe not immediately, but quickly make a decision to move forward.
Does this sound familiar? They seemed to like you, and what you offer. You can deliver whatever they need on-time and on-budget – even if it means working another late evening or two, or three.
You tell your spouse, partner, or good friend how excited you are about this new opportunity. They are motivating and positive – they want you to do well and earn more business.
Wasting time on low opportunities?
As human beings we basically trust others and we don’t expect to be taken advantage of. As business owners it’s the same – or is it? Not only have my clients told me of their horror stories – also known as “lessons learned”. Here are four steps to help you distinguish a real prospect from a tire-kicker.
- What is the size of the opportunity? Do they have budget approval for the project?
- How much time did you spend nurturing them to get to the point where you presented a proposal?
- Are you dealing with the decision-maker? Can you get access to meet or speak with them or is your proposal just being handed over?
- Do you track your time? If yes, how long have you spent talking on the phone, writing emails, developing the proposal, travelling to meetings etc.? If you don’t track your time, you need to start doing this for all future sales opportunities.
Based on the timeline of a no-response or the decision is on-hold – has this prospective customer left you wondering where to turn to boost your profits? If yes, it’s time to reassess the value of this opportunity and the reality of closing it.
The Bottom Line
Are you willing to give up this opportunity and move on to a better one that you can close or win? I believe a mentor is a valuable resource and ideal for this type of situation. It’s tough to let go. You need to maximize your time to move forward and generate more profits.
If you have a story to share, please write it on this blog. A comment or two will help others learn – including me!
If you are looking for some free marketing advice – may I suggest that you book a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with a marketing specialist.
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