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Dialog 6 : "We Haven't Budgeted for This"

Scenario

You've just made a presentation for your corporate valet service. Your prospect seems intrigued but says, "We haven't budgeted for this." This statement could mean, "This concept/product/service is too new. Of course it isn't in the budget—we've never even heard of it before!" Or "I don't want to spend money on something risky." Or "I like this product, but I truly don't have the money." Or "I don't want your product and I'm trying to get rid of you politely."

Strategies

You'll use probing questions to try to ascertain the true nature of this objection. If you sense this objection is legitimate, you'll offer creative solutions to make your offer workable with, for example, the Exception strategy. If that strategy leaves you at a dead end, you can try a Reduction strategy. In this strategy you do not reduce the price; you reduce other features in order to limit cost. For example, you offer to sell one product instead of the entire product line, or you offer to sell two weeks of a service instead of the standard one-year contract. Alternatively, you can employ a Bundling strategy in which you find an item that has been budgeted and tie a new item to it.

Insights

"If money talks, I need a hearing aid."
—Joe L. Whitley

Insights

"Show me a millionaire, and I will show you almost invariably a heavy borrower."
—William Nickerson

Figure 3.6 We Haven't Budgeted for This.

Further Considerations

If the best you can get from a prospect is an RFP (request for proposal) to submit for the next round of budgeting, be sure to find out exactly what that process consists of and follow all necessary steps. Check and double-check that you have all the proper forms and required paperwork, that you distribute the materials to all the right parties, and that you do so on time. In addition, confirm a callback date so you can meet with your contact before the budgeting process begins.

Be Careful

Avoid the appearance of telling a prospect how he should run his business. Offering a suggestion as a creative solution is one thing ("Perhaps this could be covered under some other budget category"). But dictating or presuming to know the internal workings of a company could be very off-putting ("Take it out of your office products budget" or "We both know budgets are made to be broken").

Consider yourself and your contact as a team. Reference your efforts with "we" and "ours." Enlist her support in all possible ways. You may want to prepare a short letter of endorsement and see if she'd be willing to sign it. Then send the signed letter to the other decision-makers and include it with any written proposals you're presenting. Also, see if she can introduce you to some of the key players in advance of any required budget meeting. Also see if she could get you in to make a presentation during the budget meeting.

What the Experts Say

Some businesses operate under strict budgets; others are looser. Some budgets are prepared annually with a review at the six-month mark; others may be done quarterly. Some businesses follow a calendar year for budgeting; others conform to a fiscal year. A fiscal year frequently begins after a business's "busy season" and is set up at the beginning or end of that quarter (but not in the middle of it). You might be able to glean some information about a company's fiscal patterns from its annual report.

Experience Shows

You can find annual reports at Web sites such as http://www.wsj.com, http://www.reportgallery.com, and http://www.prars.com.

Ask Yourself

  • Do I keep notes about the annual budgeting date for a particular company so that my timing will be right the next time around?
  • Do I put a reminder on my calendar to call before that date and say to my contact something like, "I know your company will be doing its annual budget soon, and I'd like to meet with you in advance"?
  • Do I continuously add facts to the organizational chart I keep for each of the companies I deal with? Do I show who teams with whom on purchasing decisions and other relevant issues?
  • Do I know explicitly what my company will allow me to offer a customer in terms of delayed billing, credit, and financing plans? Do I have support materials that explain those plans in detail?
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