Knowing When a Prospective Customer is wasting your Time

“People say the customer is always right, but you know what – they’re not. Sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so.” – Michael O’Leary

We know that gaining customers is a lot harder now than ever, and it is a lot tougher to get a new customer than it is to retain them. With so much competition, companies are constantly battling each other to land new clients and customers, and the time in which to do so seems extremely limited. However, in the ‘race’ to gain more customers, there are often times when a company may actually be on a ‘wild goose chase’. Some customers may be worth the time, and effort, while others may not. Not every deal / lead turns into a business association, for a variety of reasons, and one of them could be the prospect themselves. It makes sense therefore, for your company to know when a prospective customer is wasting your time, and when they are actually serious about engaging in business. While this may not always work, at least your company will bring down the number of such time wasting prospects.

There could be some genuine reasons for which the deal may not go through, but what is really annoying is when your company pursues a prospect with genuine interest and gusto, and you figure out that the prospective customer is wasting your time, and has been since the start of the ‘discussions’. These so-called prospective customers eat into your company’s precious time, waste hours of proposal generation and presentation, time wasted on calls, meetings, and waste other endeavors, made to help them understand your company and the benefits it brings. These prospects simply disappear and stop talking without so much as an explanation, leaving you wondering what your company did wrong. Fortunately, there are signs that can alert your company to know when a prospective customer is wasting your time. Companies do however, make the mistake of ignoring these ‘signs’, probably because the allure of landing a big business is too hard to resist.

It is imperative that your company pay heed to the warning signs that indicate a prospective customer is wasting your time, such that you save your company valuable time and resources to be used for serious prospects and existing customers. It is important to approach every new prospect with caution, and ‘read the signs’ such that you save your company a whole lot of time. The fact is that not all prospective customers are worth your company’s time and attention – and if they display the signs (that we will talk about in a bit), it would be best to avoid such prospects. Spotting a prospect that is probably wasting your time, early on, is the best way to save your company a lot of trouble. Does your company know when a prospective customer is wasting your time?

One of the top time wasters would be the kind, who does not know what they want. The worst part is that they know this about themselves, but still go ahead and waste your company’s time. These people would have no clue about what they are doing, or what they want instead they would be approaching your company to get some ideas off you, given your experience. They could provide reasons such as their goals being a bit unclear, given that they have just ‘set shop’, and would openly joke about how confused and ‘wayward’ their company is as of now. The fact is that if the prospect were unable to decipher what they need, it would a clear indication that they are not ready to take on an added responsibility – that of a business relationship with anyone.

Then there is another kind – the kind who will ‘shamelessly’ ask for discounts and or, counter your company’s quote with a ridiculously low amount. Sure, every customer wants a good deal – it makes them feel good and important, but the ones that degrade your services and or products, but undervaluing them, are clearly wasting your time and disrespecting your company. A business relationship should be respectful, productive, and beneficial to both parties, and it is never a good idea to devalue your business, simply to gain a new customer. Linked to this is another sign that a prospective customer is wasting your time – that is promises of ‘loads of business’ in the near future – many people say that but this ‘promise’ is hardly ever delivered on. By accepting terms that devalue your company, what you are displaying is that your company is okay with it, and accepts that it is worth only so much. What this could set off is a series of requests to lower prices – from existing customers, and in the market as a whole, thereby causing some serious damage to your company. It would become a lot harder for your company to get top class rates from any customers – existing or prospective.

Another warning sign that a prospective customer is wasting your time is that they would approach you without a fixed or even tentative budget in mind. These prospects may want to start an association, but this would probably only be a ‘dream’, since in reality they may not have a single buck to spare for the association. Those with a budget would proudly announce it, while the others would actually have no idea of the kind of finances they would have or need to make the association work. It is best to avoid such prospects – they would be wasting your time, and if you were to form an association, you can be sure that you would be running from pillar to post trying to collect payments. This would be a further waste of your company’s time, efforts, and money, which you can avoid by staying away currently from a time wasting prospect.

Serious prospects will have a clearly formulated plan and direction in which they want to take their business, and would know exactly how your company fits in with their vision. You should know that a prospective customer is wasting your time when they do not seem to know what they want and expect from the association. Without clear goals, they would simply be directionless, would have a number of starting points and pauses, and yet would never seem to know where their business is headed. They might even ask you to map out a plan for how your company can boost their business, however, their aim would only be to help themselves, with your company out of ‘the picture’ once you have been able to formulate a direction for them. The other thing that such prospects would do is asking for several different proposals – without really specifying what they hope to achieve from any of them. You should know that they are simply wasting your time, and not interested in forging a relationship in the near future.

A prospective customer is wasting your time for sure if you find yourself repeating details and information to either the same person in the company or having to deal with several people, and repeating the information. Such a lot of repetition, and making your company work so hard, without anything actually moving forward, should be enough of a warning. Your company would remain unsure of whom the decision maker in the company is, since there may be many who could say no, but your company never meets the one person who could actually seal the deal. A number of calls, several requests for meetings, and other such efforts on your part seem to fall on ‘deaf ears’ and the result is a wasted chase.

We do not mean to be overly critical, but the fact is that business owners may have encountered such kinds of prospects, and yet seem unwilling to learn from their bitter experiences. It is prudent to keep your defences up in the current cutthroat business environment in order to know when a prospective customer is wasting your time, and which association could lead to disaster.

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