Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Budget - Unless, Of Course

Companies everywhere are cutting or their budgets - which, of course is pretty discouraging for us salespeople. After all, no money = no sales, right? Not necessarily, says Linda Richardson on her blog.

Read on for her tips for getting the sale - even when there's no money to be found.
Many of the customers we are talking to may be like your customers. Their budgets have either been cut or all but vanished.

They also have something else in common: their goal to increase revenue and save money in the short-term. You already know how important it is to justify your value to a customer. But, never before has value justification taken on such a critical role in closing business. It now is the key to finding, unlocking, and creating budgets. And the nature of value justification has changed. We are not only in a spreadsheet world but a world that is demanding creativity in finding rationale to buy and identifying non-typical pockets where budgets may be found.

I spoke with a salesperson who, in my view, is a master at conjuring up budgets even when the customer had been unsuccessful in doing so him or herself. It is said that "Necessity is the mother of invention." This seems true for the salesperson. His product was so new and original that not only was there no budget for it (even in good times), there was no one with the responsibility for it.

After identifying who in the organizations were most apt to have needs for his product and then engaging in need dialogues with them and being told there was no budget, he leaned heavily on metrics and creative analysis to prove his product was a smart move and would help his customers achieve their objectives. He captivated and convinced one customer by showing that if his product increased the performance of one of the company's 500 sales reps by 5%, that increase would pay the full cost of the investment. This brought not only a smile to the customer's lips, it gave the customer a rationale to bring to his boss and get the OK.

He showed another customer how his product amounted to .0001% of their total revenue and compared that to the increase in productivity. For another customer who put money aside for replacement of full-time equivalents in anticipation of the company's 10% turnover, he showed that by reducing that fund by one person, the cost of the product was covered, and this potentially reduced turnover and gave needed support to his team of managers.

In each case, he was able to close because he spelled out his value justification in a way that was graphic, concrete, tangible, practical, reasonable, and believable.

Today, it's necessary to go beyond "normal" thinking about value justification. It's necessary to really understand the company's business, deeply probe the customer's needs and find a direct link of your product to the customer's shorter-term objectives, and then justify the price specifically. It takes searching every nook and corner for ways to illustrate value justification.

Closing starts in prep time when you think about the value you bring to the table and continues in the deep need dialogue you lead so you can graphically show dollars and cents value. While the value you show can be longer-term, today, the shorter, the better, and the more specific, the more compelling.

Learn more about Richardson's sales training and performance improvement solutions at


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