How to stop wasting time with tire kickers

On Monday I posted a screen capture of an email conversation I had with a prospect. This post sparked controversy and some interesting conversations. Someone even sent me a direct message to tell me that my comments on the post made me look like a prick!

So I thought I would tell you more about this specific deal and the tactic I used to avoid wasting time with a tire kicker.

Some context

A few weeks ago, a director of sales contacted me to ask if I could run a training session on selling into EMEA. As I have some experience doing that, I proposed to book a quick chat so I could learn more about his initiative and understand how I could help.

We hopped on a quick discovery call and I identified what caused this person to chat with me, what kind of outcome they expected, and when they thought they could make a decision.

At the end of the call, I suggested next steps and gave some homework assignment to the prospect. He came back to me with a list of requirements and topics to focus on.

We booked a second call so that we could build a plan together and prepare an offer. At the end of the call, I told the prospect that I needed to understand who else was involved in making a decision, otherwise it would be hard to justify the amount I proposed for the session.

He told me that he would deal with this internally, and he even refused to share the name and job title of the person involved in the decision. First red flag.

A few weeks later (second red flag), I received an email from him asking to build a business cases with direct questions from the management. So naturally, I replied that I would be happy to do that, but I would need to chat with the people who asked the questions.

And third red flag, my prospect refused and said his boss was too busy to jump on a call. So, instead of building the business case and work for free, I replied that I couldn’t help if the boss didn’t want to speak with me.

As you’d expect the deal stalled, and I’m considering it lost.

Why did I do that?

Now I see you coming. You’re thinking that I was dumb to let an opportunity go like that, when I could have simply built a business case to get the deal through.

Except I had no guarantee that the business case was needed to close this deal. During our email exchanges, the prospect asked me if I was really strict on price, because it would be challenging to justify it. What I saw coming was a lengthy email negotiation, without even knowing who’s calling the shots.


I pushed back to test if the deal was serious, because I prefer focusing on serious opportunities, instead of wasting time on a deal with so many red flags. Thanks to my prospecting system, I’m able to create enough opportunities to walk away from “maybes” and focus on solid opportunities.

In conclusion

My tactic to test the energy of a deal is simple. If people cannot intro me to people who make a decision, then I refuse to invest more time in the deal. I’m happy to work with them if they do the work and come back to me, but I need to speak with all the people involved in the decision.

I do it because:

  • they have different initiatives
  • they expect different outcomes
  • they can identify more use cases and therefore increase my deal size

As a solopreneur, my time is limited. Pushing back when prospects cannot intro me to their bosses is my conscious choice to work strategically, and to stop acting as an order taker.


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