Sales Prospects That Are Wasting Your Time And How To Spot Them

6 min readJul 6, 2022
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Every sales rep knows the feeling of wasting time on prospects that won’t move forward with your product or service.

It’s frustrating, especially when there’s another deal in the pipeline that could be closed right away.

But how do you know if a prospect is serious about buying what you’re selling?

A simple checklist can help identify potential issues before they become a problem. Here are some warning signs that should trigger your “Sales radar”:

Prospects won’t take ownership

  • Prospects who won’t take ownership of their decision-making.
  • Prospects who don’t want to make a decision.
  • Prospects who don’t want to commit to a decision.
  • And, finally, prospects who won’t take ownership of their decision-making process (even after you’ve asked them directly!).

Your prospect doesn’t ‘get it’

It can be difficult to figure out whether or not a prospect understands what you do, but it’s important that you do.

Ask them to explain your product or service to someone else without using jargon. If they struggle, it might be time to move on before you waste too much of your own time.

Another sign that this isn’t the right person for your business is if they don’t understand why they need your product or service.

A good salesperson will always ask questions about their customer’s needs and problems in order to better understand what kind of solution would work best for them.

Be sure that if you’re talking with a potential customer, they actually have an issue they’re trying to solve by working with you!

No budget — or no authority to spend money

The second type of bad prospect is the one who has no budget or authority to spend money.

This may be because they are just starting out in their career, maybe they work on a shoestring budget at an agency, or perhaps they have an entrepreneur mentality where they have to prove themselves before asking for more money.

This prospect isn’t going to be worth your time.

They’re not going to buy anything from you right now; there’s no point in trying to get them excited about things that aren’t viable options yet.

You can still make friends with them and learn about their needs so you can stay top-of-mind when things do change, but don’t waste too much time with this person if it seems like nothing will ever come from it.

Prospects don’t know how to buy your product

For example, let’s say your company has developed a new piece of software that automates the process of finding and tracking leads for clients.

Your prospect doesn’t understand how this software works or what it does. They don’t know what problem it solves for them — or even if it does solve a problem at all.

They don’t know how to buy your product because they lack information about why they need it in the first place.

If you can’t get your prospects interested in learning more about your product by explaining its benefits and value, then you have big problems on your hands (and they are wasting both of yours).

Lost the deal due to competing priorities

This happens when the deal is too small to move up the priority list at the prospect’s company.

The salesperson may have been in front of a decision maker, but that person was out of town or going through a major change and didn’t pursue it further.

It could also be because the timing wasn’t right for this particular sale, since deals can take months or even years to close.

If you’ve been talking about a deal for three months and nothing has happened yet, chances are good that it will eventually fall off your prospect’s radar as they move onto other priorities.

They’re window shopping

The easiest way to spot a window shopper is by their questions.

If they’re asking you about your product or service, but they keep asking questions instead of making any commitments, you’re dealing with someone who’s not ready to buy.

Another clue that the prospect isn’t serious? Their answers are vague and noncommittal: “We’ll see” or “It sounds interesting.”

Window shoppers are also notorious for bringing up money as soon as possible — they’ll ask if there’s an introductory offer or how much it costs before getting into the details about what your product does for them.

Your prospect is just getting started with their research.

This is the most common scenario. Your prospect has heard about a problem, and they recognize that it’s something they want to solve.

They might know what their options are but not completely understand them yet. You can spot this situation because your prospect will likely ask questions like “What do you mean by that?” or “Can you tell me more about…”

If you’ve ever been in this place yourself as a buyer, then you know how frustrating it can be when someone doesn’t take the time to explain things properly. You’re trying to learn new things!

But if your seller doesn’t give enough information or explains things poorly, then all of those good intentions go out the window pretty quickly.

The prospect is brand new.

This type of prospect is brand new. They don’t know about you or your industry, but they think they do and are ready to buy.

The problem is, they haven’t done their homework and don’t have the right information or knowledge to make an informed decision on their own.

It’s an easy mistake to make — you’re a salesperson and you want to close sales! But you should never let a prospect who is brand new waste your time. Instead, try this:

If it’s possible, ask questions that help the prospect do their own research on the topic at hand (e.g., “What kinds of features are important for this?” or “How much money do we need to spend per month?”).

This will give them some time and space away from you where they can learn more about themselves before making any decisions about purchasing from your company.

* If it’s not possible for them to do research without contacting other people within their organization (e.g., marketing), then explain why doing so would be beneficial before moving forward with any further discussions.

* Don’t avoid calling them cold turkey out of fear that it won’t go well; if anything goes wrong during these initial conversations then there will likely be no more opportunities left open later down the road anyways!

You can also try implementing a tool like Nutshell to help you manage and organize your sales pipeline.

This is an easy-to-use sales prospecting tool that automatically finds prospects in your industry and allows you to reach out to them via email or phone.

Once they respond, their information is automatically transferred into your CRM system so that all of the details are in one place.

With Nutshell’s customizable outreach templates, you’ll always be prepared for every conversation with a new prospect.

Nutshell takes care of managing the details so that no time is wasted on trivial tasks — you’ll have more time for closing deals!

Don’t waste time on prospects that aren’t ready to make a decision.

When you’re busy, it can be tempting to take on every prospect that comes your way. But there are plenty of sales prospects who aren’t ready to make a decision and will waste your time.

Prospects who aren’t ready may not be familiar with the product or service they want, they may need more information before making a decision, or they may not have the budget for what you’re offering right now. These kinds of prospects typically fall into one of these categories:

  • They don’t know what they want (they just know they want something)
  • They don’t know how much their business can afford right now (and so it’s likely their budget is too low)
  • They haven’t learned enough about their needs yet (or haven’t done any research at all)

In conclusion, it’s important to recognize that there are many reasons why a prospect might not be ready to make a decision.

After all, sales is a process and the buyer has to go through several stages before they become an actual buyer.

If you can identify these stages early on, then you can save yourself from wasting time with prospects who aren’t ready for your product or service just yet.




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