Last week I covered how asking about budgets can actually—and often—lose sales.
However, there ARE situations where budget is truly an issue. Far fewer times than the illusion of a budget blocks a sale, or a lie about a budget, but nonetheless it does occur.
In this case you simply need to put on your detective's hat and become a problem-solver to explore how they can come up with the money to buy.
The first step is to ensure they are personally sold on what you're offering. Otherwise, they won't do what's necessary to locate the needed money, right?
Prospect: “We just don't have the kind of money you're asking for. It's not in our budget.”
Sales Rep: “I see. Let's talk about that. What I'm reading from you is that this is something you personally are sold on, and would really like to do. Is that right?”
“Ok, let’s talk about that. I want to be sure we’re on the same page. First, if the budget/price
Listen carefully to their answer.
If they hem and haw, or flat out say “no,” their commitment isn't strong enough. They're not sold yet. You've got a bigger problem than the price and budget concern. You need to help them understand the value they'll get so they'll “go to bat” to find the money.
If they do agree that they want to buy, but they're handcuffed by the budget issue, your next step is to shift to questioning.
“Is there someone who could approve the money for this?”
“Which other categories might we be able to list this expense under now?”
“Are there any miscellaneous or special budgets you can draw from?”
“Can you borrow from next year's budget in order to get the funds now?”
“Which other departments might also be able to benefit from this purchase and might be able to share, or entirely handle the investment?”
“What have you done in the past when you've identified something like this that you really wanted, and that would pay for itself? How did you come up with the funding for it?”
“What have you done in similar situations?” (Whenever you can identify a precedent, it's easier to repeat it than to plow new ground.)
If you still come up empty, another idea is a downsell. If the total amount is the issue, recommend an alternative that might not be the perfect solution, but a passable, less expensive one that would fit their budget in the meantime.
And at the very least, shoot for getting commitment that they will put you in the next budget. Discuss time frames and do follow up so a competitor doesn’t weasel in.
“When is your budget year over?”
“When do you need to make requests for your next budget?”
“How much money did you have in the budget under this category last year, and what can you expect to get this year?”
Art Sobczak helps sales pros prospect, sell and service accounts more effectively by using conversationally, non-sales messaging, and without “rejection.” Get a free ebook of 501 telephone sales tips at businessbyphone.com/501-tips-ebook. Email editorial @mhwmag.com to contact Art.