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In the past few years I have been invited and attended a number of seminars and conferences reference sales, customer relations, negotiation tactics and more, but none of these seminars have addressed issues that really take up time and effort when you are hands on full on sales.

This article’s sole purpose is to help sales people whose time, effort and enthusiasm are valuable and limited resources in their profession. It is a simple guidebook to equip them with the tools in order be able to allocate their resources more effectively and efficiently to serious customers, and not time wasters. By definition, these are the customers who won’t give you a yes or a no, rather just drag the sales process with no seeming end.

Working in sales you are always under constant pressure whether that would be by your peers, sales targets,customers, management or competitors, hence why every resource you have must be carefully allocated to deliver the best results and not wasted on customers who are simply not on the same page as you.

Below is the five types of Time Wasters one can encounter while working in sales:

1.”The Wanderers”: These are customers who simply don’t know what they want. You will often hear them using  “I’m just looking”.  Their inquiries are very vague, and the range of what they are looking for is endless. They will browse from cheap to extensive, big to small, with no real sense of direction.

2. “The Secret Agent”: These are customers who don’t share information about themselves or what are they after. As sales people we are trained to grill people within the first two minutes of our interaction in order to get the idea of what needs and wants the specific customer is trying to satisfy, therefore us being able to assist them much more efficiently. These sort of customers though, you will see that they are very reluctant in sharing what exactly it is they are looking for, or why they are looking for it, neither give you any information that will help you point them in the right direction.

3. “The Pinocchio”: Everybody knows the story of the little wooden boy, whose nose would get bigger and bigger every time he lied. Surprisingly enough we also encounter customers who lie, and most of the times it is too obvious, when they do it through over promising! If only I had penny for every time I heard this from a customer:  “If you give me a good deal, I have a big network, lots of friends, you know” or “You will make a lot of sales out of me”. This is the classic situation. When a customer starts with “If you help me, I will help you” then you know you got to let it go. Rule 1 in sales, never lie and never over promise! Yet, some customer are so willing to do it, because after they get the deal they want, then they don’t have to bother with you ever again. To top it up, they will make all these grand promises, and at the end of the day there will still be no deal.

4. “The Royalty”: These are customers who are willingly ignoring the sales person and process. They see themselves as above the process and that you are beneath them, hence they don’t want to deal with you. A frequent recurrence with this type of customers, is that they have a tendency of using one of these right from the get go of the conversation:  “I want to see the boss” and/or “Only tell me the best price!”. No chance for a conversation, no feedback, they don’t give you a chance to put forward your best self; basically they don’t want to bother with you, or with what you are offering, so why should you? Don’t give in, there is no best price in two minutes, nor will you see the boss right away (unless you have an appointment). If you are greeted in such a way, always be polite, but simply make it clear that unless you want to be part of a discussion with me, then you will not be taking up anymore of my time.

5. “The Suspect”: Most people let out certain vibes when you meet them. Some make a good impression, some make a terrible impression. An experienced sales person, much like an experienced police officer, has a gut feeling when it comes to certain customers. My advise is that if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Always trust your gut!

Seeing customers every day, one cannot afford to spend a single minute or amount of effort more than what they should have, with a person that has all the characteristics of a Time Waster. Through my years of experience in sales, and the large number of customers I have been dealing with on a daily basis, I have come up with three ways in which one can swiftly handle and deal with these customers:

1. Learn to say “NO”: By nature we don’t like to say no to other people in case we might sound rude, but a NO in this scenario has a strong and definite impact. It clarifies from the beginning the boundaries of the discussion, and doesn’t allow for the customer to take a lead and drag on unnecessarily. It shows that your time is valuable, and we should get on point.

2. Leave them be: You introduced yourself, you showed who you are, you did everything by the book, but seems like you are not getting through? Give them space. Go on about your other business, and let them wonder about. Eventually one of two things will happen: Either they will come looking for you, or they will simply see themselves out the door.

3. Refer them to a different source: This is an automation process. You can simply refer them to an alternative source, i.e. your website or any other online platform you use, and let them spend time by themselves, checking everything they want to check for themselves. There is no reason for you to be dragged into it. Customers can take days if not months before deciding, so simply let them do this at their own time, and not yours.

All customers deserve and must be treated with respect and one must always devote time to analyse, listen, understand and guide customers in the right direction in order for them to be able to satisfy their needs and wants. However, time is not unlimited, nor is the salesperson’s enthusiasm and energy, hence why it is a great advantage to be able to swiftly identify and handle customers with these traits. After all, the most fundamental principle in business and sales is that “Time is Money” (Franklin B.)

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

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