Budget, as an objection, is bullshit. There’s no such thing as ‘budget’.
- Lou Haberman, InsightSquared VP of Finance
What Lou is articulating is something that every VP of Finance or CFO knows to be true, but would never want to admit to anyone, and certainly not prospective vendors. The fact is there’s no such thing as budget – no company (except maybe Apple) has a pile of cash sitting around to give to vendors. These companies you’re trying to sell your product to don’t even know that they have this pain, much less that there are solutions (read: yours) to that pain. There are many B2B customer objections out there – but budget should never be one of them.
What’s a sales rep to do?
They need to ask their prospect – and then help answer – this one very important question:
“Why should you do anything at all?”
If you can give your prospect a satisfactory and compelling answer there, then you’re well on your way to unearthing that previously non-existent budget.
Literally Every Vendor is a Competitor
Companies often think of their competitors as those within their space, selling a similar product. Business intelligence companies are competing against other BI vendors, lead scoring software against other lead scoring options, telephony tools against other telephony tools. However, when it comes to uncovering available budget, you have to remember this important mantra:
Every vendor is a competitor.
You’re not only fighting for time, attention and yes, dollars, with your direct competitors, but really every other tool out there. Whether you’re a CEO, CFO, VP, Sales Manager, or Sales Operations admin, there are only so many projects you can do at any given time. Sure, you recognize that many aspects of your sales and marketing process could use improvement….but which parts should you prioritize?
That’s where sales reps come in.
People often mistake the purpose of selling as to communicate the value of a product to a potential customer. In truth, the purpose of selling – especially for SaaS startups penetrating a new market – is to create this previously nonexistent value. After all, your product could be solving a heretofore unheard of problem for the customer. That makes it a much tougher sell, since they don’t even know they’re experiencing this pain, much less that the pain has a viable solution.
What this Means for Sales Reps
Remember that unlimited and neverending list of projects that leadership and sales management at any company is always working on? The only way for your reps to get to the top of the list is to educate the market and close the business gap. Whatever pain your sales tool solves – sales reps wasting too much time, marketing creating the wrong leads, salespeople drafting up their own contracts, dialing phones instead of clicking to dial – the prospective customer needs to learn and feel this pain for themselves too. Chances are, they’ve already been feeling the pain – they just didn’t know it, or that there was a solution.
Raising awareness for the pain that your sales tool solves is not easy, especially on a 45-second cold call. The best way to do so is to articulate – in cold, hard, realistic terms – the answer to the question the customer is thinking to herself:
“Why should I do anything at all?”
And how sales reps can answer that question effectively is by doing their homework beforehand and identifying the potential customer’s important initiatives. As a sales rep, you really have to dig in to a company’s inner workings and understand the positive ways that you can transform their processes and their overall business.
Now that you’ve found the internal problem that you solve, you’ve raised awareness that your product can viably solve this problem, and you’ve answered the above question, it’s time to find that budget. And you do that by tying your solution to a cost, and subsequently an increase in performance.
Maybe your product will return 3 hours a week previously spent building sales reports back to your sales manager. Perhaps you can help their reps prioritize leads better so they don’t waste time chasing bad deals. Maybe you can save an hour a day by electronically drafting contracts, or find a better way to track a sales team’s activity levels, or increase average sale prices by 35%, or lower sales cycles by 60%. Whatever the case, you have to tie your product to a direct increase in performance – either by revenue, efficiency or any other measure. Be it through an ROI calculator, a relevant case study or some other method, tying your solution to a tangible improvement will soon have your potential customer digging under the couch cushions for loose change to give to you.
The bottom line is this: No sane CFO or VP of Finance will ever say no to something that could save the company money or make them more money. If your reps have done a good job of uncovering pain and communicating and proving the tangible value of your solution, your champion will take the budgetary fight to the CFO themselves, effectively fighting your battles for you.
Don’t ever let your reps settle for using budget as an objection, the reason they were not able to close the deal. Of course there is no budget for your solution – the market for it within the potential customer just does not exist yet. It’s on your reps to go out there and establish this market, communicate this value and then find that budget will magically appear out of nowhere.