How to Stop Wasting Time on the Wrong Sales Prospects

Last Updated: May 31, 2017
Nothing is worse than wasting a ton of time and effort on a client who ends up not doing business with you. Here’s how you can tell in advance which prospects aren’t going to pan out before you’ve invested too much time with them.

We have all worked with clients who end up not being a good fit for whatever reason. Usually, the one regret we have for these clients is all of the wasted time. Instead of continuing to waste time with clients who aren’t meant for your business, consider implementing some of these strategies we’ve discovered to identify the wrong clients.

Schedule a Call

When a prospective client contacts you online, schedule a call. This tests whether the client is available enough to speak on the phone. If you can’t get the client on the phone, or it takes many days before he or she responds to your emails, it’s your first indication this client may end up wasting your time.

Ask Questions Pertaining to Your Business

As much as you want the client, it’s a good idea to find out if he or she is a fit for your services. Ask a series of questions that pertain to the services you offer. This way you know if you will be able to provide what the client wants. If you don’t think you can, cut ties during the call by saying, “I don’t think my services can help you, but you can contact this person.”

Send an Email with Questions

If asking prospective clients questions during a call seems inappropriate, consider sending the questions in a follow-up email. This is perfect for professionals such as life coaches, who want to know if a client is going to do the work needed to improve their situation. If the client answers the questions in the email promptly, you’ll know you two are a good fit. If not, you can simply move on or let the person know it won’t work. 

Check Reviews

Some businesses can search for reviews to find out if a particular client will be good for them, such as Business-to-Business’s (B2Bs). Reading reviews online on how they handle their customers and partners can help you decide if you should enter into business with them. Delayed payments, rude customer service, or other bad reviews may be a warning sign you will spend much more time than you should with the particular business.

Identify Expectations

Clients should know what is expected of them. Telling them these expectations upfront will give them a chance to walk away before you start working with them. This avoids the situation in which you work with them for some time, and then they decide to leave you without payment for the services provided up to that point. Some businesses have documents that outline all of the expectations to hand out as soon as they have a prospect, which can save a lot of time on both sides.

Provide Estimates

You can save a lot of time if you provide estimates for the services as soon as possible. Many consumers shop only based on price. Quotes with minimal time invested are best. This may not be possible for some businesses, as an assessment must be completed before a quote can be given. However, finding ways to cut assessment time down can help get the quote out to the prospect sooner, which reduces wasted time.

Give a Sample

For business owners who work on large projects, it might be a good idea to start giving samples of the work that will be done before moving forward with the bulk of the project. Many times, people will work on a large project, only to have clients reject it and move on to someone else. This can be devastating, especially if a lot of time was spent on it. Offering a sample or setting up milestones will reduce wasted time when a client ends up not liking the results.

Change Your Perspective on Wasted Time

Wasted time is not always a bad thing in business. There’s a lot to learn from it. Each time you waste time with a prospective client that doesn’t work out, you learn why it didn’t, so you can avoid a similar situation next time. In the meantime, implement some of the solutions mentioned here, so you can reduce wasted time right away. You may be surprised at how many people you end up cutting ties with right away because they just don’t fit with the way you run your business. 

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