10 prospects that are wasting your time and how to spot them

by Steli Efti

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Is this person going to buy?

When you’re on the phone with a prospect, that’s the single most crucial question that needs answering.

The sooner you can figure out whether your prospect has 1) buying intent, and 2) decision-making power, the better. Because if you’re on the phone with someone that has no intention of buying, you’re wasting time that could be spent talking to real prospects and closing real deals.

Coach your SDRs on how to better spend their time by identifying bad prospects early on in the qualifying process.

Below, we’ve listed 10 prospects that are wasting your time.

1. The student

Students are not buyers. They’re most likely doing research either for their studies or their career.

Recently, we ran into one of these cases here at Close.io. Someone signed up using a Harvard.edu address and one of our junior sales reps got very excited. The opportunity to have such a respected institution as a customer for our inside sales CRM? Who wouldn’t be excited.

However, once we called them up, we quickly discovered that they were just researching the CRM space for academic purposes. We thanked them, hung up and marked it as a “Bad Fit” in our CRM.

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How to spot them: Ask them what they do and why they signed up to use your product.

2. The applicant

If your company is hiring, you’ll run into a lot of these. They’re job applicants that have signed up for a trial to check out your product and learn more. While that’s a good thing, they’re not buyers.

How to spot them: Ask them why they signed up for a trial.

3. The cheapskate

This person doesn’t care about your product. He just wants the best deal possible.

How to spot them: Every question they ask is centered around price. They will push for a discount or try to get your product for free.

4. The hobbyist

This person spends a lot of time using your product, but they’re not in a market for a solution. They will have a lot of questions and opinions, but they’re interested for the wrong reasons.

Avoid getting into the habit of answering their questions by taking control of the conversation. Once you’ve established more context, you’ll soon discover that they have no buying intent.

How to spot them: Ask them why they signed up, what they’re trying to accomplish, what their position is, and what is the size of the team they’re managing.

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5. The researcher

The researcher has been given the job to learn more about your type of product, industry, and market.

They’re not the decision-maker or the buyer, they’re in the business of learning on behalf of someone else in their company.

As soon as possible, your reps want to get the actual buyer on the phone, the decision-maker. That way, you’ll avoid potential misconstruction of the information, as the researcher passes it on to the buyer. This will also shorten the sales cycle.

The easiest way to get the buyer on the phone? Ask for it.

How to spot them: Ask why they’re comparing you, what their priorities are and who the buyer is.

6. The DOA

This person is dead on arrival because they have already chosen a solution. They’re doing research because they’re following a protocol or process.

Often, they’re not getting the price they want at the other company, so they come to you for a quote they can use as leverage when negotiating with them.

How to spot them: This is a tough one to spot in the qualifying process. There are four red flags to look out for:

  1. They’re not the decision maker
  2. They are researching other products
  3. They can’t answer the question “How will you make a decision?”
  4. They want a quote with a low price

7. The slow burner

This person is currently locked into a contract and can’t act immediately. They’re just preparing for a potential move to a different solution in a year or so.

This is not necessarily a bad prospect, just be sensible of how much time you spend with them.

How to spot them: Ask them if they’re currently using a different solution, what kind of plan they’re on, and if they can get out of their contract.

8. The undercover

This is a competitor that pretends to be a buyer. They will have a sense of curiosity that goes beyond that of the average buyer.

How to spot them: These people are tough to spot. If they’re not asking questions that are centered around how your product will solve their problem, it’s likely that they’re a competitor.

They might ask if you’re funded, how many employees you have, or the features you’re releasing next. Their questions will sound very senior in the way they understand your product and the market.

9. The ignorant buyer

This person is working for a company that could be a potential customer. But they don’t know what the buying process looks like, let alone how a decision is made.

The painful part? They’re unaware of this, but highly opinionated and determined. They’re going to ask all the right questions and look like a real buyer. But when it comes to the close, this person won’t have the authority to do so and the deal is gone.

That’s a lot of wasted time for nothing.

How to spot them: Ask how long they’ve been with the company and what their role is. Ask, “When was the last time you made this type of decision?” This question will be a good indicator of whether they’re the buyer or not. If they’re not, get them to bring the right person into the process.

10. The time waster

Yes. This person is the ultimate time waster. They might be potential buyers and decision makers, but they have no respect for other people’s time.

How to spot them: This is the type of person that will happily chit chat about anything. They take their time to think things through and they have zero urgency. They often reschedule or cancel.

If you get the feeling that the sales process is just dragging on, it’s likely you’ve got a time waster on your hands.

Use these 3 tactics to avoid bad prospects

While each type of prospect should be treated individually, these three tactics will help you spot bad prospects early and remove them from your funnel.

Establish context

As a sales rep, there are no bad questions to ask—as long as they’re relevant. If a prospect is being finicky, figure out why by asking questions. Start with the basics:

  • Where do they work?
  • What’s their role?
  • What does that role entail?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What’s their current solution, if any?

Take control of the conversation

Some prospects can talk forever. Don’t sit there listening. Interrupt them politely by asking a relevant question. Something like, “I’m sorry, what did you say your role was? I must have missed it” will bring the conversation back to the start and allow you to identify who you’re talking to.

Practice friendly strength

Practicing friendly strength means showing that you’re the authority. Exercise that authority in a way that demonstrates that you’re not looking to talk to just any prospect, you want to talk to someone that’s a good fit. Provide use cases and ask if the prospect can relate to those. Not a match? Don’t be afraid of letting go of a prospect who isn’t qualified. Suggest a solution that would be a better fit for them and get on with your day.

I hope this will help you in coaching your team on how to spot and avoid bad prospects. The sooner you can remove them from your pipeline, the sooner you can start closing deals with people that are a good fit for your product and company.

Use Close.io to manage your prospects and maintain a healthy pipeline. Try it for free for 14 days and start closing more deals today.

Recommended reading:

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