Tire Kickers


I’ve always wondered about the expression “Tire Kickers.”

I mean, I don’t wonder about the expression, I know where it comes from: the car business.

From Urban Dictionary:

Someone who is indecisive about purchasing a product or service, and never feels satisfied with what they are offered. In the end a tire kicker may or may not buy. The term comes from sales people at car dealerships. Tire kickers would come around frequently, kick the tires a few times on the cars that they liked, but never make a solid purchasing decision on any particular car or trim.

“That tire kicker has come here every day for the last month, don’t waste any time on him.”

What I do wonder is why the expression has so much traction (that’s a tire pun) that it’s carried over into other businesses like ours.

For as long as I’ve been in the electronics industry the term tire kicker has been used to describe people who won’t buy anything.

After all this time why haven’t we invented our own term? “Button pokers”?

That aside, I have other issues with the expression.

Too often, salespeople use “tirekicker” as an excuse for why they didn’t make a sale. “Ah, he was just tire kicking.”
Well, maybe, or maybe not.

It could be the case that they were just killing time. Certainly if you work in a store location in a busy mall a higher percentage of people are just wandering through.

Or, it could be that they were there for a reason, but the salesperson didn’t engage them well enough to find out what it was.

Pro Tip: People respond to a salesperson’s greeting with “Just Looking!” as an automatic reflex to avoid being accosted.

Not without good reason. As I’m fond of pointing out to salespeople-in-training, if every person you spoke to today was acting like a jerk maybe it’s you who was acting like a jerk.

Authenticity and being likeable will go a long way towards dismantling those automated reflexes, and finding out what people really want and need, in order for you to help them.