What Are Tire Kickers? (Meaning, How To Avoid + More)

If you’ve recently started working as a salesperson, you might have been advised by your manager to be wary of ‘tire kickers’ and avoid them as much as possible.

But if you’re new to the field of sales, you may be wondering – what are tire kickers? Keep reading to learn everything I’ve found out about this topic!

What Are Tire Kickers?

Tire kickers are individuals who visit stores, car lots, or inspect a car/vehicle without a serious intention of purchasing anything, and only leave after asking endless questions and wasting people’s time. The name “tire kicker” originally refers to customers who would inspect a car in endless detail “kick the tires”, without the intent of ever buying it.

If you want to learn more about why tire kickers are bad for sales, how to get rid of them, and more, keep on reading for more useful tips!

Where Did The Phrase Tire Kickers Come From?

The term ‘tire kickers’ originally referred to those who visit a car dealership multiple times, kick the tires of multiple cars to signal their interest, but leave without purchasing anything.

By kicking tires and acting as if they’re inspecting them, these people put out a false impression of being interested in making a purchase.

However, since this phenomenon is common across many industries, the term ‘tire kicker’ is now used to refer to any person who is very likely to waste time and leave a store without making a purchase.

Why Are Tire Kickers Bad For Sales?

Tire kickers are harmful for your sales because they overshadow potential customers by wasting a significant amount of employee time in asking endless and irrelevant questions.

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As well, they also spoil the sales metrics of an organization (i.e. employee performance cannot be tracked accurately because of the mix-up with potential customers), and are particular time wasters for those who work on a commission-based salary.

Additionally, tire kickers also exhaust the energy and patience of workers who are required to treat every customer with a high level of regard and help them reach a decision in any way possible.

How Can You Identify And Get Rid Of Tire Kickers?

One of the major signs of tire kickers is that they keep asking different and more in-depth questions without moving forward and talking about payment.

Keep in mind that tire kickers can be of various types, so it is crucial to recognize them and send them away before they succeed in wasting too much of your time and energy.

Listed below are the main types of tire kickers you will encounter in your sales career, along with tips on how to identify and get rid of them:

1. The Student

Keep an eye out for students, as they generally visit stores for research purposes and ask a variety of questions without showing real interest in purchasing any products.

You can easily avoid students by asking questions about where they come from, and adding in the option of ‘job title’ in online forms if that’s where you get your inquiries.

2. The Applicant

If there is a vacancy in your company, some candidates will try to learn more about your company by pretending to be a customer who is looking to purchase an item.

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You can avoid these individuals by simply asking about their reason for signing up for a purchase trial.

3. The Cheapskate

3. The Cheapskate

Cheapskates are primarily looking to get the best discount deals on a particular item, regardless of the brand or company.

Even though they might initially be interested in purchasing your product, they will switch instantly to another brand if they locate a lower price.

Cheapskates can be easily identified, as they ask multiple questions, all of which are closely related to the price of an item and any possibilities of getting discounts.

4. The Hobbyist

Hobbyists may invest a lot of time in your products but will have their own opinions about them, making those opinions known to you.

You can avoid hobbyists by not answering their long list of questions, which will mostly be centered around particular features of a product.

5. The Researcher

Researchers are generally on a mission to uncover important details about your product, industry, and market, and are just there to acquire information on behalf of someone else.

You can avoid researchers by directly asking them why they are comparing your product, what their priorities are, and who the buyer is behind them.

6. The DOA

A Dead-On-Arrival (DOA) person has already chosen to buy a competitor’s product, but is visiting your store to coerce your competitor to offer a better price.

In other words, they want to use the price you offer as a form of leverage to negotiate with their actual supplier.

Therefore, there are four things you need to keep in mind to identify and avoid DOA people:

  • They don’t make the decision
  • They are researching other products
  • They can’t answer the question “How will you make a decision?”
  • They want a quote with a low price
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7. The Undercover Spy

The Undercover Spy

One of your competitors may send an undercover spy to pretend to be a buyer at your store and get important information about your products.

Although they are tough to spot, you can identify an undercover spy by keeping an eye out for excessive questions that revolve entirely around your product.

Additionally, they may also ask questions about several employees or upcoming features which are yet to be launched.

8. The Time Waster

Time wasters might be potential buyers, but they will feel no shame in wasting a lot of time on the employee they are speaking with.

Time wasters can be identified as the people who will chat unnecessarily about absolutely anything. Also, note that they are most likely to reschedule or cancel their purchase.

If you want to know more, you can also see our posts on why do dogs pee on tires, why are tires made of rubber, and how tires are recycled.


Tire kickers are individuals who fake interest in your product, waste your time by asking constant questions about the product and your company, and leave without purchasing anything.

Such people are bad for sales since they waste valuable employee time and ruin sales metrics. Tire kickers can be of various types including researchers, cheapskates, undercover spies, applicants, and more.

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