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How to Deal with Tire Kickers

Time is money. This is true for all professionals but especially so in sales. Every second wasted on a customer that won’t buy is a second that you could have spent on a customer that will add value to your business.

A good sales professional knows how to make a difference between a good and a bad lead to save time for everyone involved and make some money. Here is how you can weed out good prospects from those just looking to waste time.

What is a tire kicker?

This is a phrase that comes from car sales. When you’re selling a (used) car, you’ll inevitably have some potential buyers before someone with cash comes up and hands it over. When looking at your car (metaphorically), you’ll have people who really want to buy and those who just want to waste your time.


Tire kickers are people who are there to “kick the tires” on your car, without a cent in their pocket, just to browse and not to buy your (metaphorical) car. They exist in all industries and they will waste the time that you can spend on actual buyers.

Types of tire kickers

All tire kickers have one thing in common - they drain your resources, be it time or money. However, not all tire kickers are the same. Depending on why they’re wasting your time, there are different ways to stop them in their tracks.

The researcher

As a writer, I often look at different products to compare their offer, pricing, user experience and more. Sometimes, you’ll have to talk to someone in live chat to find out how much a product costs or what makes it better than an alternative. This is a researcher and they’re not looking to buy - they’re just digging around for information.

How to stop them: ask them why they’re looking at your product and what specific features/aspects of it they need. Usually, you’ll see from a mile away that they’re just fishing for information.

The job applicant

On our website, we have a Careers page and we always have a few openings. When people are interested in a position, they’ll do all sorts of things to find out more about it, including getting in touch with sales. This can be through email, live chat or even a call.

How to stop them: have a specific email just for recruiting purposes. When someone reaches out to you on any channel, ask them what they need from you immediately. If you have a chatbot, leave an option for contacting you because of an open position and forward visitors to an email address for HR.

The penny pincher

This one is actually interested in what you’re selling and they may get some use out of the product. The problem is, they’re not interested in the features - they just want to get it as cheap as possible and they’ll keep pressuring you about the price only.

How to stop them: ask them about their concerns immediately. If they insist on getting the product cheaper or getting an extension on their free trial, just tell them that your pricing policy is firm.

How to deal with tire kickers

As mentioned above, this is a pretty broad category with a few subtypes of people. However, there are some general tips for stopping tire kickers in their tracks altogether.

Come up with a buyer persona

Granted, not every customer you meet will fit into this pre-determined persona. However, it will give you a good idea of what your customer should look like. This can be especially helpful for junior salespeople or those who just joined your team.

Have a detailed FAQ section

Many of the questions you get will repeat themselves. A great FAQ page will help your customers find the answers to their questions before they even talk to a sales agent, saving you time and money. Moreover, self-service is becoming increasingly popular in recent years as a customer support method. A great example of this is CalAmp’s (a telematics solutions company) educational resources where they ensure potential customers can investigate and understand before requesting a demo.

faq section on the better proposals website

Talk to the right person

When someone is reaching out for information, you want to make sure that they’re the person in the company making a purchasing decision. In other words, talk to a CFO or a manager instead of a marketing assistant. The moment someone messages you or hops on a call, ask them about their role in the company.

BANT model

Lead the conversation

When someone is on a sales call, they’ll want to learn as much as possible about your offer. At some point though, you want to direct their attention from inquiring to making a purchase.

You don’t want them to get to this point naturally, so instead suggest checking out a free trial or purchasing a plan to get started with the product. They need to make the decision on their own, but nudging them in the right direction won’t hurt.

Do your research

Certain types of buyers make up the majority of tire kickers. The best way to find out who those buyers are is by doing your own research and looking into the average sales cycle to find patterns.

In our case, freelancers are the worst because they shop around a lot, churn very quickly and want to spend as little as possible. Armed with this information, our sales team approaches them in a different way compared to an enterprise customer.

Ask questions

The best way to find out if someone is a proper lead or not is by asking qualifying questions immediately as they get on a call. Find out where they work, what their role is, what problems they’re trying to solve, what other competitors they looked at, why they’re considering you and more. Having all of this information will help you determine if you’re talking to a tire kicker or a potential customer.


Tire kickers are inevitable, no matter what you sell and who you sell it to. The good news is that you can reduce the time wasted on them by quite a lot. Empower your sales team with these techniques and tools and you’ll have a more productive and happier team and more money in the bank.

Adam Hempenstall's profile image
Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He started his first web design business at 14 and has since written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Having helped his customers win $500,000,000 in the last 12 months alone, he’s launched the first ever Proposal University where he shares best practices on writing and designing proposals. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.