How To Spot a Tire Kicker When Negotiating with New Prospects

How to Spot Time Wasters

How many of you have had prospective clients ask about your offer and then disappear before you could even spell the word “contract“?

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that today, you may get a lot of calls from prospects, but not all of them may be ready to do business. More often than not, people may fish for free solutions they don't intend to pay for. And if you've just opened a new business, it can be difficult to tell what kind of prospects to avoid.

So what can you do to stop wasting time on these so-called leads?

As beginner entrepreneurs, you may be tempted to go above and beyond in the hopes of signing a new client. While I'm all for showing off your skills, giving up your strategy for free to prospects who aren't willing to move forward is a bad idea.

In order to do business effectively, you need to learn how to nip this problem in the butt. Keep reading to learn how to spot a tire kicker when negotiating with new prospects.

Tire Kickers

How to tell if a client's intentions are serious?

How serious is the lead who just called you? Could this be a real opportunity to do business or is it just an attempt for someone to get their questions answered for free?

To find out how serious a prospective client's intentions are, the most direct method I use is asking these 5 simple questions:

  1. When do you propose to start on this new project?
  2. Do you have enough funds to pay for my services?
  3. When do you expect to have this project completed?
  4. Who will be working with me?
  5. Who can answer any questions I may have about the project?

All of these “inquiries” are pretty well calculated to make the prospect understand I'm serious about my business. At the same time, their answers will help me spot any leads that may waste my time.

The main idea here is to separate the tire kickers from those who could really benefit from working with you. With that said, here's a quick breakdown of this “red flag” test and how the method can help you spot time wasters in no time.

1. When do you propose to start on this new project?

Obviously, someone who is serious about building a new website or launching a marketing campaign will want to start as soon as possible. If a prospective client seems confused whether or not they should start now or maybe later, they probably don't value the project well enough to schedule it.

2. Do you have enough funds to pay for my services?

Someone who is serious about a new project should have the funds to pay for it. Asking a potential client about their budget always helps and, if they start trolling for unrealistically low numbers, you're probably better off not signing a contract with them in the first place.

3. When do you expect to have this project completed?

Deadlines are very important and so is asking prospects about a due date for their project. First of all, this tells you whether or not the client is serious about seeing their project completed. And second, it allows you to understand whether or not you're able to take on this new client and meet their timeline expectations.

4. Who will be working with me?

Let's say a prospect is interested in building a new website. They may expect you to take care of everything – from logo design, to development, to hosting – or they may not. If your prospective client already collaborates with other professionals, it may be a sign they're serious about doing business with you and they should definitely let you know who will be working with you on the project. If not, you should either be ready to offer them your services – but not for free! – or move along to your next prospect is something smells ‘fishy' and they're not willing to pay extra.

5. Who can answer any questions I may have about the project?

In order to do a great job and offer a top notch service, you should know who to talk to about the actual project. If your prospective client has no idea who's in charge or they take too long to respond, they are likely to just test the waters and chances are they're not very serious about working with you in the first place.

At the end of the day, being contacted by leads on a regular basis is amazing, but finding out you've just wasted your time is not fun. Don't let that discourage you from talking to the next possible client though!

You owe it to yourself and to your business to learn how to weed out tire kickers and focus on prospects who are clearly ready to say “Yes” to your proposal.

If you'd like further help on how to pre-qualify your clients, I recommend you check out our simple software solution called Local Fee Finder.


Picture of Nick Ponte

Nick Ponte

Born and raised on Maui, Nick was employed as an automobile mechanic before founding his own local marketing agency. Nick naturally wrestled with the change from tradesman to marketer (not an easy transition) but, like Tom, he wouldn't give up. Through years of commitment, Nick has grown to be a highly skilled web developer and marketing expert with a specialized skill-sets in a variety of fields. He has developed many high-traffic, high-quality websites that incorporate the best practices for today's digital marketing. Today, Nick eagerly shares his experience and knowledge by helping others in cultivating their business.

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