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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Organized For A Living" - Article

Donít Waste My Time!

Many participants in my programs ask how to deal with potential clients who appear to be seeking INFORMATION and nothing more. In many environments these individuals are called time wasters. Time wasters come in every shape and form but they usually possess a few consistent characteristics -Ė they ask a continuing stream of questions, take up loads of our time, and seldom end up BUYING anything.

What is particularly interesting about these situations is that many time wasters donít set out to be that way. It is usually our FAULT that this happens because we donít control the sales process. And in many cases, WE become the time waster.

Most sales professionals know they are supposed to ask QUESTIONS to learn about their customerís needs but I have learned that the majority of sales people tend to be more comfortable RESPONDING to questions rather than asking them. Here is a simple factÖthe person who asks the questions is the one in control of the sales process.

I have conducted hundreds of sales training workshops in the last ten years and I consistently have people tell me they know the IMPORTANCE of asking questions. As the discussion continues I usually discover that they do in fact ask questions Ė- after they encounter OBJECTIONS or resistance from the buyer or customer. But that means itís too late. Now it will appear that you are trying to justify your product, service, price, etc. Sales people hear this, but it seldom sinks in.

After reading one of my weekly sales tips a sales person emailed me wanting to speak about an opportunity. He presented a couple of good points so I agreed to a telephone conversation. When we connected he immediately launched into a ten-minute monologue about his company and its services. At this point it still wasnít clear what he WANTED from me so I asked. He went on to say that he wanted me to endorse his product to my clients and newsletter subscribers. I then stated that my target market is mostly specialty retailers and asked how his product would help them. His reply, ďOh, it wonít.Ē He had now just wasted almost 15 minutes of my valuable time. If he had asked one simple question in his email he could have SAVED us both time because he would have learned that our companies were not compatible.

In some cases, your product or service may not be needed by your prospect or may not fit into their plans. This means you move on to the NEXT prospect. Donít waste their time and yours trying to reconfigure everything hoping something will work out. Virtually everyone I know is pressed for time. Respect that fact. Save your customers time by asking a few well-thought out questions BEFORE you suggest a product or service. That way you wonít become a time waster.

But, how do you CONTROL a customer who is a time waster? There are a couple of ways:
  • First, ask a few high-quality questions EARLY in the sales process to determine exactly what your customer is looking for and what their buying criteria are. One of these questions should be something that identifies the time-frame that your customer is working with.

  • The second thing you can do, particularly if the other person has indicated that they arenít making a buying decision in the near future, is to direct them to your website or offer other printed materials for them to REVIEW.

  • Third, ask them to make a buying DECISION. This approach is effective because the time waster will become uncomfortable and will often end the sales discussion himself.

  • The fourth strategy is to DROP them like a hot potato. Donít waste your time trying to close them. Be pleasant, firm and direct. Tell them that you must take care of other customers and move on.

You only have a certain number of hours of prime selling time in any given day. Donít waste your time selling to people who have no INTENTION of ever buying. And, avoid wasting the time of your customers.


Kelley Robertson is President of The Robertson Training Group and the author of, ďStop, Ask and Listen -- How to welcome your customers and increase your salesĒ. Visit his website at You may contact Kelley at 905-633-7750 or .

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