Tire Kickers: How to Spot and Avoid Them

RepVue Editorial Team
RepVue Editorial TeamJan 11, 2024

Months of emails and follow-ups. Several product demos that seemed to go really well. So many questions answered. But it never feels like you’re any closer to closing a deal. (And you probably never will.) 

Another “tire kicker.”

Spending too much time on tire kickers can drain your resources and prevent you from focusing on more promising leads. And while identifying tire kickers can be a challenge, it’s an important skill for every salesperson to develop.

Let’s explore what tire kickers are, how to spot them, and what you can do to avoid wasting your time on them. With these tips, you’ll be able to streamline your sales process and focus on the customers who are most likely to make a purchase.

Understanding Tire Kickers

Definition of “Tire Kicker” and Origin

A tire kicker is a potential customer who shows interest in a product but has no intention of making a purchase. The term originally referred to people who visited car dealerships and literally “kicked the tires” of multiple vehicles without ever buying one. (Seems like a strange hobby.)

Tire kickers are a common occurrence in sales, and they can be frustrating for salespeople. They often spend a lot of time browsing and asking questions, but they never commit to making a purchase. They would be harmless if it weren’t for the amount of time they waste for salespeople who are trying to close deals and meet their sales targets.

Psychology Behind Tire Kicking

Today, there are several reasons why someone might act like a tire kicker. For example, they may be unsure about the product or service and need more information before making a decision. They may also be comparing prices and features across multiple vendors.

Some tire kickers may simply enjoy the process of browsing and asking questions without ever having any intention of buying anything. Others may be trying to negotiate a better deal by pretending to be disinterested in the product or service.

It’s essential to understand why a customer may be tire kicking. Only then can you identify which prospects can become customers once you address their concerns and which prospects aren’t serious about making a purchase. 

Tire Kickers Impact Your Time and Resources

The biggest impact tire kickers have on businesses and salespeople is the waste of time and resources. Tire kickers can take up a lot of time by engaging extensively, asking lots of questions, or raising endless objections, without ever committing to a deal. This can result in a loss of productivity and revenue for the business.

Are tire kickers limiting your earning potential? Compare what other sellers earn here.

Setting up qualifying questions, using lead scoring, and regularly tracking your prospects’ progress through the sales process can help you weed out tire kickers and focus your time and resources on more promising leads.

Another way is to create a sense of urgency around the sale, such as offering limited-time deals or incentives. This can help to weed out tire kickers and encourage serious buyers to make a purchase.

Identifying Tire Kickers

Identifying tire kickers will save you a lot of time and effort. Below are some common behaviors and red flags to help you identify tire kickers.

Common Behaviors of Tire Kickers

Tire kickers tend to exhibit certain behaviors that can give them away. One common behavior is asking a lot of questions without showing any real interest in buying. They may also be indecisive and take a long time to make a decision. Another behavior is being overly focused on price and trying to negotiate a lot without showing any real interest in the value your product or service provides.

Unfortunately, these behaviors aren’t limited to tire kickers. A lot of your best prospects will also ask questions, take time to make decisions, or focus on the cost of your product. Use your best judgment here. If these behaviors go far beyond what you’d expect of a prospect — or if they take your time away from other prospects ready to buy — that’s when these behaviors should be considered concerning.

Tire Kicker Red Flags 

There are also some red flags to watch out for when it comes to identifying tire kickers. The first and most important red flag is when a potential customer does not fit your target persona. 

For example, if you primarily target enterprise businesses and someone from a small or midsize business expresses interest, they may be a tire kicker. Another red flag is when a potential customer shows a lack of any timeline. If they don’t have a time by which they expect (or need) to make a decision, they’re probably not serious about buying.

It is also important to watch out for potential customers who keep asking for freebies or discounts without showing any real interest in buying. They may also be trying to take up a lot of your time without any intention of making a purchase. These are all red flags that can help you identify tire kickers. Save yourself time and effort by focusing on potential customers who are serious about buying your product or service.

Dealing with Tire Kickers

When it comes to dealing with tire kickers, it’s important to have a strategy in place to avoid wasting time and resources on prospects who have no intention of buying. Here are some tips to help you effectively deal with tire kickers.

Effective Communication

One of the keys to dealing with tire kickers is to communicate effectively with them. Be clear and concise about your product or service, and make sure they understand what you’re offering. Listen to their questions and concerns, and address them in a professional manner. Be patient and understanding, but don’t let them waste your time.

Setting Boundaries

Another important aspect of dealing with tire kickers is setting boundaries. Let them know that your time is valuable, and that you can’t spend hours answering their questions if they have no intention of buying. Set a time limit for your interactions, and be firm about sticking to it. If they’re not serious about buying, it’s better to cut your losses and move on.

Don’t Hesitate to Get Tire Kickers Out of Your Pipeline 

If you’ve determined that a prospect is a tire kicker and has no intention of buying, get them out of your pipeline as soon as possible. Don’t waste any more time or resources on them. 

Politely let them know that you don’t think your product or service is a good fit for them, and that you won’t be pursuing the conversation any further. This will free up your time to focus on more promising prospects.

Example Email to Tire Kicker

It can be hard to know what to say to a tire kicker when removing them from your pipeline. 

(You may even want to express your frustrations after they’ve wasted your time. We get it, but do your best to avoid that urge.)

Here’s a polite way to let them know that you won’t be pursuing the conversation any more:

Subject: Reflecting on Our Recent Discussions

[Prospect’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. After carefully reviewing our discussions and your specific needs, it seems that our [product/service] may not be the best match for your current requirements. 

At [Your Company], we strive to ensure that our solutions align closely with the unique needs and goals of our clients. I wish you the best in finding the perfect solution!

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Turning Tire Kickers Into Buyers

Turning non-serious tire kickers into paying customers is unlikely, but addressing the fears of those who are hesitant is definitely possible.Some potential customers may struggle to commit to a purchase due to fear of making an incorrect decision or feeling that the timing is not right.

Offer them incentives to make a purchase, such as a discount or a free trial. Show them how your product or service can benefit them, and address any objections they may have. 

For instance, if a prospect is experiencing indecision caused by an overwhelming number of choices in products, vendors, or prices, it’s beneficial to highlight the advantages of your offering. Share a straightforward cost-benefit analysis, emphasizing how your product or service could enhance their profit margin, boost their market reputation, or give them a competitive edge.

With the right approach, you may be able to turn these types of tire kickers into loyal customers.

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