This is the final post of a 4 part series on why ultimately, prospects don’t buy from us. We have already covered no need, no hurry and no trust. This post is about no money to buy. Or at least, that is what we are being told.
To go back to basics, whatever we are selling and whoever we are selling to, people make decisions for their own reasons, not ours. Our job therefore is twofold. Firstly, to have a deep understanding of what we can truly effect in an organisation, down to a simple granular and economic level. Secondly, armed with this capability, to find and engage with the individuals and teams who benefit most from the change we are proposing.
In other words, to be able to say: “By moving from a manual, paper based approach to xyz, we can increase productivity by an average of 40-55%. In addition, we can eliminate costly duplication of effort and the risk of operator errors”.
We now need to engage with the people and teams who care most about what we can deliver for them. In the example above and depending on the size of organisation, it may well be project delivery, operations or finance, or something similar.
The key point is that price without value is just cost and it is very easy to say no to something when you can’t see the benefits. Or what’s in it for you, also called the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Unless we invest the time to identify the right people and communicate our value, it is almost inevitable that we won’t progress and sometimes this will be expressed as “nothing in the budget for that this year”.
Experience has repeatedly proved that when we do our job properly and position ourselves correctly, one of three things will happen. Firstly, we are too late as one of our competitors has already secured the business, maybe on a multi year contract. Secondly, our contacts see and clearly understand the value we bring and how it will help the organisation. Unless they are a decision maker and typically sit at board or senior management level, the best we can hope for from them is an introduction upwards. They will usually only do this when there is a WIIFM which reflects well on them and they “get it”.
This brings us to stage 3, where we are finally talking at board or senior management level.
If we are selling innovation and this means a change in their approach or business process, we will often need access to discretionary funding. After all, if this is the first time they have heard of this new approach, how could they have budgeted for it?
The stakes are highest at this level, as this is where the actual decisions are made. At any point, there will be multiple competing business cases and ideas for improvement on the table. Our task is to ensure we are close to the top of their list of priorities. Our challenge is to sell effectively at the level where decisions are made on what to do, in addition to how to do it, plus who to do it with.
Taking all of this into account, when is the best time to raise price? In the above scenario, somewhere between when we have engaged in detailed discussions with our original contacts and when we start talking at board level. Even then, it will be communicated in business value terms, such as the ROI payback period.
What we never do is talk detailed pricing before uncovering need. That would be commercial suicide and almost guarantee it goes no further. In summary, research, engage, uncover needs, determine business value, get access to decision makers by internal referral and prove the business case as the final step in securing the business. It’s not easy, but it is simpler and more likely to happen if we work to something like this model.