There is an age-old debate about which came first, the chicken or the egg?
While that debate may never be solved, there is one “which comes first” situation that shouldn’t be up for debate and that is, “See the solution first OR know the budget first?
In our work helping client’s develop their sales talent, there are two topics that get avoided on a regular basis. Plus, both are to the detriment of the salesperson. Those two taboo topics are discussing the incumbent and discussing the budget. We will address the incumbent discussion in a later blog. For now, let's talk about the "dreaded" budget discussion.
When we refer to the “budget”, we are referring to it in three categories commonly known as
TMR—Time, Money, and Resources. It is our experience that the stronger sales professionals don’t shy away from that discussion. They aren’t afraid to ask, “How much have you set aside to make this problem go away”?
They are successful because they follow these rules:
Rule #1— Have the conversation. The 800 lb budget gorilla is in the room, so talk about it. If you have taken the OMG sales assessment, look at the section on “Ability to Discuss Money” to see if that is a weakness or strength. If it’s a weakness, put a plan together to help overcome this obstacle.
Rule #2— Provide context. Regardless of the investment your prospect needs to make to fix their problem, it needs to be framed in the context of their pain and your ability to eliminate it. If the pain is minimal, then your solution won’t seem that great. We’ve had prospects tell us their problem is a “two comma” problem, meaning their cost of turnover was over $1 million dollars. That’s context. Know their cost before you proceed!
Rule #3— Don’t show your solution until you know the budget. It’s really that simple. If you have ever provided a solution to a prospect only to hear them say, “that’s more than we intended to spend”, then you have an issue discussing the budget. Does it make sense to know their appetite for change, including budget, before you provide your solution? Here is where the strong sales professional is different. If the prospect doesn’t want to discuss budget, they know it can be for one of two reasons. You haven’t uncovered enough pain or they simply want to use you as a pencil sharpener for the competition. You don’t get paid to be a pencil sharpener so don’t become one.
In closing, don’t be afraid of the conversation. In the history of sales, no one died from discussing budget, I doubt you will be the first.