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5 Questions To Ask Yourself When Separating Prospects From Time Wasters

June 5, 2015 | Sales

As a business owner, you will have discussed many deals, opportunities, and heard promises from prospects that never came through. You know the type, they ask a 101 questions, waste hours of your day and promise to call you next week, but never do.

Talking to these ‘prospects’ wastes time, provides misleading sales forecasts and sets the foundation for a less than optimal sales funnel.

The problem?

You’re placing prospects who are not prospects in your pipeline, wasting time and money.

Over time, your sales pipeline bottlenecks and sales reps are unable to segment real prospects from time wasters. Instead, they divide their time equally to everyone, not giving enough time to real prospects and giving too much time to time wasters.

The solution?

Ask yourself these 5 questions to know if your prospect is really a prospect.

1. Are you talking to the decision maker or a sideliner?

Who are you talking to and what power do they have? Talking to someone who has no influence on the decision making process is like putting a car in neutral and hitting the gas.

You will quickly know if they are the decision maker or not from talking to them. Do they refer to other people in the company, or tell you they cannot make a decision until they speak to other members of the team?

Avoid discussing price or solutions in great detail when talking to what I call ‘sideliners’.

You won’t be able to get a detailed understanding of their problem and the solution you can provide. Nor will you understand the decision maker’s needs or thought process about price-to-value to set the correct price.

2. Have they shared private information with you?

Anybody who has shared private or sensitive data with you is someone who trusts or has confidence in your business.

sales propspects

Take the time to really listen to what they are saying, how long is it before they start sharing proprietary information with you? Do they mention how your product could improve their business?

If they are being coy, you may have a time waster on your hands.

3. What’s their deadline for making a decision?

Your sales team should place a higher importance on prospects who are looking to take action now (or very soon). They are ready to buy and you need to make sure it’s you they turn to when they do.

A prospect who has 18 months to make a decision is not a deal you’re going to close this weekend. In a blocked pipeline, target time-sensitive prospects. Gauging the prospect’s time frame helps forecast quarterly sales targets and rank prospects in order of importance.

4. Have they told you their weaknesses?

They are seeking your help because they have a problem that needs fixing. Prospects who want help will clearly state the problems they are having and why they are looking for help.

Time wasters will hide their weaknesses because they are not confident to tell you – or aren’t ready to be helped. Don’t push them either. Give them as much time as they need to tell you, until then, don’t push or allocate too much time on selling them something they are not yet ready to buy.

5. Which weighs higher importance for them – quality or money?

Once you identify what your prospects values more, you can move them through your sales funnel. Some put quality above everything else, others place time as the biggest importance, while many say the cost of the solution their biggest priority.

Here’s the trick: you need to ask this question during the probing phase as they will be honest. If they are happy to use your product and you get to the negotiation stage, they will tell you price is the most important thing,

If you ask them now, they will be honest.


These 5 questions should be asked to all prospects to decide whether they are serious leads or time wasters. If they are unwilling to answer any of the 5 questions above – don’t pass them to your sales team. Instead, remove them from your pipeline and place them back in your sales funnel for further nurturing.

James Dickerson

Founder of CrushCampaigns

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