F*cking Tyre Kickers (and How to Avoid Them)

F*cking Tyre Kickers (and How to Avoid Them)

I’ve been in the marketing agency world for a while, and I love it. I’ve dabbled in other sectors, but I gravitate towards agency life.  

But, for all that I enjoy, there are a few aspects that drive me nuts. The worst is dealing with crappy prospective clients—those with bugger all manners and even less money.

Let me know if this sounds familiar: you spend a ton of time with a prospect, understanding their needs and challenges, preparing and submitting a proposal and then nothing. Silence. Often not even a note of thanks for sending in your plan. Ultimately the project doesn’t happen.

I don’t mind not winning a piece of business. Scrap that. I can tolerate it. But, a wall of silence is unacceptable. It’s just rude.

Here are some ideas for how to avoid tyre kickers and save yourself a tone of wasted time.

Idea 1. Positioning. 

If you’re attracting tyre kickers there’s likely to be something wrong with your positioning. You need prospects to look at your agency and understand quickly:

  • what you do
  • who you do it for (and who you don’t do it for)
  • why they should contact you rather than another agency

If you’re selling yourself as an “award-winning full-service agency”, you need to work on this.

Here’s an example of proper positioning from my friends at The Pull Agency:

“Combining a scientific approach to brand development, and a creative approach to technology, to deliver game-changing, award-winning transformations for health and beauty brands.”

This statement leaves you in no doubt who should and shouldn’t get in touch.

The first step to avoiding tyre kickers is to improve your positioning to attract the right type of clients. Why not write-up what clients you do and don’t work with and in the process help people qualify themselves in or out of your sales process.

Be brave. I dare you. Put up a page on your website that dissuades people from getting in touch.

Idea 2. Define a Formal Sales Process

The next biggie is your sales process.

You probably don’t have a defined process for taking an enquiry from the first contact, through to signing your contract.  

If you do, you will likely exclude tyre kickers early on and before you spend too much time on submitting your proposal.

How? For a start, your process will ensure you accurately qualify a prospect.

I use the classic BANT qualification model. Ask yourself, does the prospect have:

  • Budget: If the prospect owns the company, what are they prepared to spend? If they are an employee, has the budget been approved? Is the budget suitable for you to deliver something of high quality and make a 25% net margin?  
  • Authority: Does the prospect have the authority to sign-off on the project you are trying to win? Do not spend time on a proposal until you are in contact with the person who is going to approve your project.

Years ago, my agency was appointed to design a CRM and loyalty card scheme for Pizza Express. After the marketing manager signed off on our proposal, we found out he had no authority. The marketing director was entirely out of the loop. We drank Champagne, but the project never happened.

  • Need: Is there a defined need behind the project? If there’s no pain, there’s no motivation, and your project may well drift. You need to understand this so you can shape your proposal.
  • Timescale: Is there a defined timeline for solving the pain? No? Wait until there is. There is no point investing time chasing leads where there is no deadline. Deadlines make things happen.  

Include these qualification criteria in a sales pipeline so that bad prospects do not get too far into your process, eating up valuable time, energy and resources.  

Map your sales process out in a CRM like Pipedrive or Nimble too. Make sure you monitor performance with handling and moving prospects through your sales process.

Idea 3. Discipline

When times are tough, like now, when the business world is melting, it’s easy to think you have to chase every lead. Get busy because that will solve your challenges.


Focus on defining the exact type of client and project you are looking for and pursue them with discipline. This focus will be hard because there will be opportunities that look good from the outset, even if they’re in a new sector or a slightly different specialism.

You know what I mean. If you usually provide lead generation services for e-commerce companies, sure you can help with their Amazon strategy. Or if your focus is PR for food and drinks brands, you can handle a furniture company too, right? Wrong.

Focus on your specialism and get busy attracting those prospects that have the budget, authority… you know where this is going.

There you have it. Rant over.

If you’re dealing with tyre kickers, it’s your fault. Work on your positioning, sales process, qualification and discipline.

First published on Linkedin in May 2020.