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How to turn small business prospectors into potential clients

You’ve had them in your small business:‘prospects’ who aren’t really prospects at all. They’re not truly interested in buying. They’re just using your expertise to shop elsewhere, or are looking for rock-bottom prices, or are just seeing what’s out there. In real estate, they have a term for these time-wasters: “looky loos.” How can you figure out who’s a real prospect and who’s not?  

Looky-loos eat up a great deal of your limited time. They want to learn what they can from you and then move on. And they’re not just individuals—big corporate prospects can be ‘looky-loos’ too. You can use a whole lot of your resources in meetings and preparing bids and proposals, when all they’re really trying to do is get your ideas.  

After ‘wasting’ your time with even one or two of these tire-kickers, it’s easy to become cynical and too brusque or even rude to prospects who might turn out to be very profitable paying customers.  

A prospector in a river panning for gold.

Figuring out how much time and energy to spend on prospective customers is a delicate and difficult balancing act. Realistically, you have to be responsive – and above all, polite — to all potential customers. But there are ways to limit the amount of time, money, and effort you spend on dead-end shoppers.  

More:Lessons from Dr. King: The three kinds of people every small business must have

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