How to Spot A Time Waster Early in the Sales Process

How to Spot a Time Waster

There are a number of clues that you can look out for to spot a time waster early in the sales process.

Firstly, we have to take people at face value. If they say that they are interested, we have to believe they are interested. We have to believe they are looking to change accountants until we can prove otherwise.

However, there are a number of things that we can look out for in this early stage:

Take notice of how quickly they agree with you in the meeting.

When you meet them and are talking with them, watch out for people who are agreeing with absolutely everything you have to say. This means that they can ensure the meeting is over and done with quite quickly.

This can often be a sign that people are looking to get you out of the door rather than seriously considering changing to you.

They have brought you in to find out who you are, what you do, and how much it costs. Often, they then go on to talk to their own accountant about it afterwards. Once they have had that talk about another accountant with their existing one, they look to get a discount from them.

Signs to look out for:


“Oh everything you said is fantastic, right, yes, yes, okay, great, that will be fine, thank you very much, bye.”

In my experience, this type of individual is not a potential new client but rather someone looking to get a discount from their current accountant.

Watch out for inconsistencies.

“I really want to change but I am not going to tell you who I am with or what I am paying.”

“I really want to change but we are not going to have a second meeting, just email me a proposal.”

“I really want to change but it‘s not urgent right now.”

If you look out for inconsistencies, this can be a red flag that people are on a costing exercise.

It might be even worse than that. It can be a time-wasting exercise for some reason other than them actually being interested.

When there is a family member in charge of the accounts.

It is not necessarily impossible to break, but again, it is more of a costing exercise than anything else. So watch out for fast agreement during your meeting.


One of the biggest clues to spot a time waster is the fast agreement to everything you say. Their objective is to get you out of the door quickly.

Be alert to inconsistencies in the conversations. Watch out for blood relatives in charge of vital finance functions externally or internally.

In my experience, these are the three key signs that someone is not serious about moving to your firm. It demonstrates that they do not want to achieve greater value and make more progress in their business.


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Author: Martin Bissett

Martin Bissett is a premiere level consultant, author, and keynote speaker for the accounting profession worldwide. He founded the Upward Spiral Partnership Ltd., a UK-based consulting firm that specializes in implementation of business development and leadership skills for superior quality accounting professionals. Browse Martin's courses OR