If your sales pipeline feels like you’re herding cats, it might just be that you’re focusing on the wrong animal. Metaphorically speaking.
Newsflash: half of your prospects are a bad fit for the products and/or services you sell. If you try to close deals with these folks, you'll only waste your time, inflate your company's refund rate, and lower your brand's reputation in the marketplace.
Fortunately, there are ways to identify and eliminate bad-fit prospects from your pipeline before they drag you down. Keep reading to learn seven signs your prospect is a bad fit.
Sign #1 - They skip scheduled meetings
It takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a prospect, which means you need to be persistent if you hope to close more deals and boost revenue.
That being said, prospects who answer your calls and agree to meet with you, only to skip the scheduled meeting at the last minute, might not be a good fit for your company. Of course, scheduling conflicts and unplanned emergencies occur. One missed meeting isn't a big deal.
But if a potential customer repeatedly misses meetings, it's probably time to disqualify them. They obviously don't need what you sell or they would make a point to talk with you.
Always remember: time is your most valuable resource. Don't waste it on bad fit prospects who don't need your products and/or services. If a lead doesn't respect you enough to attend a meeting they agreed to, you're better off spending your time elsewhere.
Sign #2 - They're not ready to buy right now
Modern consumers are savvy. Most of them spend a great deal of time researching their options before pulling the trigger and purchasing a new product or service.
There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it could be argued that customer self-education makes the salesperson's job easier because many prospects already know the ins and outs of a product or service before they contact a sales rep.
But here's the thing: don't spend a large portion of your time on prospects who aren't ready to buy right now. Why? Because you could invest hours into building a relationship with them only to learn that they won't have the budget to make a purchase until next year. Or they've only contacted you because their boss wanted them to research potential solutions.
Prospects who aren't ready to buy shouldn't be kicked to the curb (unless they display some of the other "bad-fit" signs in this article.) Instead, add them to your lead nurturing list. That way, when they decide they're finally ready to buy, you'll be top of mind.
Sign #3 - They can’t answer important questions
The best prospects know exactly what they want, how much they're able to spend, and when they'd like to make a purchase. Before you invest a mountain of time into the sales process, make sure your leads can answer important questions like:
- What does success with our product look like to you?
- What's your budget for this kind of product or service?
- By what date do you need to purchase this product or service?
You shouldn't have to educate prospects on why they need your product or service. This just extends the sales process and makes it harder to close deals. Instead, focus your efforts on leads who understand the problem they face. That way you can spend your time telling them how your product or service solves their problem better than your competitors.
In addition, do your best to avoid prospects who don't know their budget and/or don't have a purchase deadline. These folks will probably just waste your time.
Sign #4 - They constantly haggle on price
Contrary to popular belief, price is not the biggest obstacle to sales. But a lead still has to be able to afford your products and/or services if you hope to close a deal. Because of this, we suggest asking about a lead's budget early in the sales process.
Now, what happens if a potential customer has the budget, but constantly haggles with you on price? This is a sign that your prospect is a bad fit.
In many industries, price negotiations are normal. Don't be surprised or offended if a lead asks for a small discount—especially if they plan to buy products in bulk, want to sign up for your highest priced package, or show other signs of being a great customer.
But consider disqualifying a prospect if they consistently ask you for a major price break. This usually means one of two things:
- They lied about their budget and can't actually afford you.
- They don't understand the value your products/services provide.
You can't do anything about the first issue. If they don't have the budget, they don't have the budget and you need to send them on their way. If they don't understand the value of your products, you can explain it to them in greater detail, though you probably already have.
That's why, in most cases, the "haggler" proves to be a bad-fit prospect.
Sign #5 - They're the wrong demographic
Your company can't serve everybody—and it shouldn't try to. There's a specific type of customer who will really benefit from the products and services you sell. These are the people you need to spend your time on. All others just aren't a good fit for your offerings.
For example, if your company makes software for small businesses, disqualify leads that own or work for enterprise organizations. If your business offers landscaping services in Northern California, disqualify prospects who live in Los Angeles unless you plan to expand that way.
Some leads are bad fits because YOU can't serve them properly. Nothing wrong with that.
To avoid wasting time on the wrong demographics, create a buyer persona (or two, or three) for your ideal customer. Include information like their age, gender, occupation, industry, income level and/or budget, etc. But don't forget about psychographic details like their hopes, fears, and daily challenges as well. All of these details are vital to a successful sales process.
Sign #6 - They aren’t willing to share personal details
You should also tread carefully around leads who refuse to give you personal information. A prospect who isn't willing to share their contact details, the city they live in, the company they work for, etc. probably isn't ready to buy. Who knows? They might never be willing to buy…
It's possible that the "lead" you're talking to is really employed by a competing organization. They have no intention of signing on the dotted line; they just want insider information.
Not all prospects who refuse to share personal details are spies. Some of them are just in the process of researching their options. They keep a tight lid on information because they don't want you to contact them until they're sure your products/services can solve their problem.
Either way, an unwillingness to share personal information is a sign a prospect is a bad fit.
Sign #7 - They're rude and/or disrespectful
Finally, a prospect who is intentionally rude and/or disrespectful probably won't buy from you either. And if they do, working with them will make you so miserable you'll wish you never sold them a product or service in the first place. Better to pass on these leads.
Think about the reasons why a prospect might be rude to you:
- They're an unpleasant person: If this is the case, they'll probably complain about your products, demand refunds, and write bad reviews of your company. It's better to rid yourself of them before they have a chance to harm your company.
- They're angry because their boss asked them to research solutions: Maybe they think they're qualified for more important tasks. This will make it hard for them to see the value your solutions represent. Plus, if they're not the decision maker, you'll have to pitch your products twice: once to the rude research assistant and once to their boss. This is a massive waste of your time.
- They're having a bad day: We all have bad days. But if a prospect takes out their frustration on you, they might not be the quality professional you want to do business with. Selling to them might be more work than it's worth.
Of course, rudeness and disrespect won't prevent a lead from making a purchase. You'll need to decide for yourself if dealing with this kind of individual is worth the headache. But, in general, bad behavior is a sign of a bad-fit prospect.
Focus on good fit prospects
The best way to improve your sales numbers is to focus on the right prospects, i.e. prospects who need your products and/or services and understand the value you provide.
Now, let's be clear, just because a prospect displays one or two of the signs above doesn't necessarily mean they're a bad fit for your company. Don't automatically disqualify them. Just proceed with caution and be willing to hit the eject button when you feel the time is right.