Inside Sales Tips: Sort Tire Kickers From Buying Signals

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Depending on the type of lead used to generate them, a prospect can either be a Tire Kicker or a Buying Signal. Knowing the difference can help you move your prospects further along the lead funnel. In this post, you’ll learn the difference between Tire Kickers and Buying Signals, which can help you achieve exponential growth in your business sales.

In this article:

  1. What We Discovered about Our Buying Leads
  2. The Difference between Tire Kickers and Buying Signals
  3. Sorting Sales Leads
  4. The Mistake We Made
  5. Free Lead Response Management Study

Tire Kickers | How They Differ from Buying Signals and Why They’re Also Essential Business Leads

What We Discovered about Our Buying Leads

woman buying online stocks | Inside Sales Tips: Sort Tire Kickers From Buying Signals

Sales can be tricky because customers can differ – some of them may have started as Tire Kickers. About three years ago, we were analyzing the leads that come from our website. We’re trying to find out if some were better than others.

Everything we do at XANT is according to metrics. Instead of just hiring marketers, we hire math and economics majors in our marketing department. It is all about studying and testing and analyzing.

So we charted out our leads and we found that there were two obvious “clusters” of leads based on the types of offers we had made to generate them. I call them “Buying Signals” and “Tire Kickers” and we found there was an 8 to 1 difference in the results they generated based on overall revenue.

The Difference between Tire Kickers and Buying Signals

When are prospective buyers Buying Signals? Buying Signals are just that, respondents to offers that clearly say, “I’m anxious to talk to somebody at XANT about making a purchase decision.” I have “need,” not just “interest.” Anything product-centric, pricing-related, commitment-based, etc. We learned that even a toll-free number is an “offer” somebody can choose to accept on a website (and is often the very best one.)

Tire Kickers want to learn something. They aren’t ready or don’t have the time to buy. They have the “interest” but not the need. These prospects may not even know they have a need yet or the intention to buy.

The way to turn Tire Kickers into Buying Signals is to spend time providing compelling information and education.

Sorting Sales Leads

two businessman using touchpad | Inside Sales Tips: Sort Tire Kickers From Buying Signals

Our research shows people who are Tire Kickers are eight times less likely to buy than a Buying Signal.

I remember interest is the counterfeit of need. It belongs to the marketing department, whose job it is to educate. In contrast, need belongs to the sales department, whose job it is to build value and close to fulfilling the need.

The kinds of Buying Signal leads include:

  • Free trials
  • Demos
  • Product overviews
  • Contact us
  • Product slicks
  • Pricing requests
  • Proposal requests
  • Toll-free phone numbers

The kinds of Tire Kicker leads are:

  • Company overviews
  • Whitepapers
  • Research papers
  • Webinars (including on-demand webinars)
  • How-tos
  • Forums
  • Blogs

The Mistake We Made

What did we do? We cut out most of our Tire Kickers and focused on Buying Signals. We even scaled back our well-known research papers like the one Inc. Magazine quoted.

What happened?

For a certain time, it was well. Things went great for about two months. Our sales went up, then they went down. And our leads started drying up. We couldn’t figure out what happened until one day, we looked at previous leads and found people typically downloaded two to three Tire Kicker offers before moving to the Buying Signal leads. It was a “lead funnel,” and we had stopped the new leads from entering it.

So immediately, we put back all our Tire Kicker information leads and expanded them.

It was almost a disaster, but it turned out to be one of the most important things we have ever learned.

I hope this article helps you in selling by defining Tire Kickers and Buying Signals. They illustrate why both are important in the business. In this way, you can tailor your strategy based on how far in the lead funnel your prospective buyer is.

Do you have Tire Kickers in your business? How do you transform them into Buying Signals? Share your tips below.

Up Next: How to Prioritize Sales Leads

Author: Ken Krogue | Google+
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 10, 2011, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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