Problem: Why is money so difficult to discuss? Salespeople frequently hear from prospects that budget is “no problem” at the beginning of the sales call. However, once things start to get close, the story often changes. We’re told that we “have to sharpen our pencil,” “get more competitive,” or offer “additional discounts.” Yet, once the sale is won, price seems to evaporate as an issue and pressure is put on the vendor to improve quality or service. Often we hear from salespeople that money is the number one issue in getting and keeping the business. “We need to have more competitive pricing, better discount structures or we just can’t compete.” Sound familiar?
Analysis: There are several reasons that investment or budget is discussed only superficially. First, is the unfortunate, self-limiting belief (which afflicts many, but not all salespeople) that discussing financial issues is impolite. Second, experience has shown us that a discussion of price typically deteriorates into a negotiation situation which is uncomfortable. Third, we’re afraid that the prospect may not be able to afford our product. Fourth, deep down, we may not be convinced that our product is really worth what we’re asking.
Solution: Don’t ever get yourself into a situation where you’re making a proposal without finding out two things: 1) how much the problem is costing the prospect, and 2) how much they’d be willing to spend assuming your solution completely fixed the problem. It’s imperative that you understand all the financial parameters related to the sale. One effective way to make sure budget and related money issues are discussed is for you to set a “trap” for yourself. It goes something like this: “Mr. Prospect, one of the things that I sometimes find difficult to discuss is budgetary issues related to purchasing my product. I’m not sure why that is, but I want to make sure that we take some time to talk about that today. Is that okay with you?” This “trap” lets the prospect know up-front that money issues will be part of the discussion and gives you an excuse to bring them up. You might say, “Do you remember that we wanted to discuss your budget for this type of purchase? Can we do that now?”
Oh, yeah! One last thing—don’t spend your valuable selling time with someone who doesn’t have the financial resources to buy your product or service.