As a salesperson, I’m at the mercy of a prospect’s budget. And compliance teams are always asking for budget.
Which means I’m no stranger to getting this kind of email:
Hey, we’ve included this in our budget proposal. We’ll let you know if it gets approved! 🤞
And then I wait. And they wait. And then there’s usually some more waiting. And you could basically flip a coin to predict whether there's budget or not.
Frustrating, right? Does it sound familiar at all?
Well, I've got good news for you: you have control over your budget.
No, really. Sure, economic outlook, company performance, future goals, etc., all impact the kind of resources you'll have, but the groups with the most budget tend to be led by officers who know how to sell.
Not selling to new customers the way I do, of course. But selling internally. And guess what, they’re pretty much the same thing.
So with budget season upon us, I'm going to walk you through the basics of selling. Armed with these skills, you'll be prepared to get the kind of budget your team and program need to be successful.
Identify what problem your *boss* is trying to solve. 🤔
If I’m talking with a prospective customer about Broadcat's amazing content that can be displayed on walls throughout the office and they're a company that has moved to 100% remote working post-COVID, I’m in serious trouble (like I-should-be-fired kind of trouble). I’ve got to get on the same page as the person I’m selling about what problem they’re trying to solve and then propose how my solution solves *exactly* that problem.
The easiest trap to fall into when asking for money is thinking that your problem is the same as your boss’s problem.
Here’s an example:
As a salesperson, I need to reach out to people that the rest of the Broadcat team has never talked with—that’s the only way we can grow. But finding the right people to talk to can be hard, and getting an email address for those people can be even harder. So one of the first things I needed to do when I joined Broadcat was find a solution to that problem.
The solution, of course, costs money, so I needed to get approval. The alternative would be me spending hours every week randomly guessing email addresses or calling corporate offices and asking to speak with someone in compliance. Doing so would be incredibly inefficient and downright miserable for me.
But my problem isn't the one my boss is trying to solve. So I didn’t pitch my boss on spending money for a solution that would help me enjoy my job more. The problem the business is trying to solve is increasing revenue and acquiring more customers. So that’s how I articulated my solution: Spending money on a service that will help me identify good potential customers for Broadcat (and start conversations with them quickly) means growth for the business.
In short, don’t ask for budget to solve *your* problems. Ask for budget to help the *company* achieve its goals.
Contextualize the spend. 🧩
Context is everything. Isn’t it the most annoying thing in the world that sales reps want to get you on the phone before discussing pricing? Yes, we know how annoying it is. No, we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
The reason is because we want to make sure price is considered in the right context. For instance, if you compare Broadcat to a graphic designer you find on Fiverr, you’d think we were selling you PowerPoint files saved on floppy disks made of gold. But if you compared Broadcat to the design firm that made your company’s two-color logo, you’d think we forgot to add a couple of zeroes to our invoice.
I’ve seen a lot of compliance folks that don't help their leadership understand the context of their proposal ... and this is often the reason why those budgets don't get approved.
A common example is recurring vs. one-time costs. Take your training content provider. If they provide a training course, do you have to pay for that every year that you intend to use it? Or can you pay for it once and use it whenever you’d like?
It might be the case that you’re asking for a lot of budget this year for a one-time thing that will enable your team for years to come. It’d certainly be important for your leadership to understand that (and frankly, good leaders will ask these questions). But your proposal will leave a better taste in their mouths if you can address those questions before they’re asked.
Tie in the business case. 💼
Companies (and their leaders) always have three interests:
1. Make more money
2. Spend less money
3. Reduce risk
And these always get measured in terms of money. So anytime you’re trying to make the case for your plan and budget, you’ve got to put it in terms that leadership will understand.
Pretend you’re trying to procure budget for Broadcat in next year’s budget cycle. You chat with me, we walk through pricing, and you add that plus a couple of sample Broadcat pieces to your budget proposal.
Later, during a budget review, your boss, or maybe your boss’s boss, asks you about Broadcat. You explain that Broadcat has these really clever, colorful, and well-designed pieces that you just really think employees will respond to. Employees might even start to like compliance! Well that’s great. And it’ll be great right up until your CFO slashes your budget because he can’t see how colorful training content has anything to do with running the business.
Instead, do the math to support your case. For instance, you suspect that by using Broadcat’s resources you’ll be able to reduce the amount of time that employees have to sit through formal training sessions. With your employees' time being worth an average of $50/hour, an annual reduction of 30 minutes in training for all employees would be worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in employee time.
Or here's another way to put it in terms that business leaders will understand: you learn that it can take over a hundred man hours to design a single training aid like Broadcat provides. You get paid a competitive salary, so you’re proposing that the company save big bucks (several hundred hours x the cost of your time = $$$) by outsourcing a specialty service; in turn, you can use that saved time to do what only you can do: understanding what your business does so you can identify and manage those risks.
Essentially, to get approval for your plans, you’ve got to speak the language of the rest of the business. That’s money. 💰
You're not in this alone.
Budget season is upon us. Whether it’s Broadcat, headcount, or software, you’ve got something that you want to spend company money on. Exercise that newly developed sales muscle and make the case for your budget. 💪
And if you could use some help, reach out to the sales reps you're working with—they understand they can’t always talk to the final decision maker, but they're great resources to help you make a compelling case. 👍