pipecast episode one - budget

Budget Objection Handling – The PipeCast Episode 1

On this first episode of the PipeCast, I speak with Richard Smith, Co-Founder of Refract about navigating the challenging budget issue.

When faced with an objection about budget, do you counter with an offer, nurture or neither? Does this tactic differ by stage in the deal?

Refract helps companies increase deal velocity and decrease missed opportunities, through improved sales conversations. You can learn more at www.refract.ai.

A Step by Step Guide to Enterprise Sales- Part 2: Connecting With the Buying Influencer

Part 2 of a 3 part guide. See part 1 here.

Too often, a masterful storytelling salesperson will wow his or her audience on a call, only to find out that their efforts were wasted on people who lack the ability to take the discussion to any material place.

It was Mike Tyson who put it most eloquently when he stated “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth”.

What I am hoping to address in this section is how we can avoid this situation and navigate more freely through an institution, making sure to avoid the “punches” along the way and close the deal.

The first step – sales development

The first step in the process actually starts upstream with Sales Development.

It is the job of a Sales Development Rep (SDR) to ensure that the appropriate people are invited to the call, so that the conversation will be beneficial to all parties.

In preparing to approach each personality, I think it is worth us outlining some of the likely players that will be involved in the buying process:

Champion

  • Responsible for the day to day implementation of the project/solution
  • Has the most to benefit/lose on a daily basis from your service/product
  • Likely to respond very well to your demonstration of how you can add value to their company
  • Will rally support internally behind your service/product
  • Oftentimes, they are middle/lower management and do not have control of the purchasing decision, but can make enough noise as to attract their Supervisor/Director etc to the next demonstration

The Champion is your ally in this process and needs to be treated as such. Build a relationship with this person, reinforce the benefits of your product/service to their company and themselves and be praiseworthy of their support at all times.

Technology Buyer (if you are selling technology/SAAS)

  • Responsible for vetting the technology purchases of the company
  • Likely to be held responsible for anything that goes wrong in purchasing a product or service and is therefore likely to be very risk averse
  • Will have a list of questions, which often don’t always relate to the product/service you are selling, but it is important that you hear them out and address them

Often, this person will respond negatively to attempts to build an interpersonal relationship, but if you can satisfy their questions, take them seriously and if possible, go beyond their requirements, they will be a staunch supporter and ally, and with the Champion, will likely make a convincing argument to the Economic Buyer.

Economic Buyer

  • The person holding the purse strings (in a smaller company)
  • Or responsible for making purchasing decisions on any large purchases over the threshold limit of the buying department in a larger company or institution
  • At times the Economic Buyer may also be the Decision Maker.

In larger companies, governments and even universities, the Economic Buyer is kept separate from the decision making group, oftentimes for two main reasons:

Firstly, in the case of Governments and Universities, they are there to ensure that there is no bias in choice of vendor.

Secondly, their job is sometimes to renegotiate the rates and terms in the contract. As such, it is important to factor this in to your pricing when quoting larger institutions.

In many cases, the Economic Buyer is directly linked to the legal department and together, they form the Purchasing Department.

When dealing with this group or personality, it is important that you follow a clearly outlined closing plan (which I will cover in my next article) to ensure that you can bring the decision to a head as quickly and as pain free as possible.

This includes planning your question and answer process, as well as navigating the legal battleground. This specific relationship has the highest risk of going sour, given the heightened tension in the process as either party makes a final attempt to assert its will.

As such, keeping a cool head, directing the process and being responsive and professional will help you win their approval.

Decision Maker

  • Often the person charged with making a final determination
  • Usually has no specific interest in the product or service you are selling and is simply there to rubber stamp the contract, trusting on the opinions of the Champion, Technological Buyer & Economic Buyer

In some instances however, the Decision Maker is also the Champion. For obvious reasons, having the Decision Maker and the Champion as one personality is a massive benefit, but it does come with its challenges.

Oftentimes, the Decision Maker’s enthusiasm for a product or service may raise the eyebrows of their colleagues/employees in the lower departments and actually work against the salesperson, so it is important to manage that relationship and not take for granted the opinions of those “lower level” employees.

In order to avoid any unforeseen pitfalls, be sure to prove the value to parties on all levels, even if you have the “thumbs up” from the Decision Maker.

Final thoughts

Navigating the purchasing process is a skill that comes with time. It is important to constantly make sure that each party is being addressed and that you are being directed to the appropriate parties.

If you need, create a map for yourself and the buyer or a checklist, to ensure that once each step is completed, you have a clear direction of where to move in the sales process.

In my next article, we will focus on closing techniques and tips for maximising the chances of success at each level in the decision making process.

Happy hunting,

David

A Step by Step Guide to Enterprise Sales- Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part guide. See part 2 here.

“We are so excited by [your software/SAAS product]! We’ve loved the presentation and our test! It is going to be a huge help to [save us time/money/make us money/scale our business]. Where do we go from here?”

For those of you SAAS veterans who have been in this position, you would instantly realise that while you may have nailed the demos up until this point, your work really only starts now.

There are many layers to B2B enterprise sales, with each layer presenting challenges and gate-keepers designed to shrivel up that early excitement and your bonus cheque along with it.

Oftentimes, despite our past experience in selling to many different types of organisations, we forget key steps along the way and find ourselves out maneuvered, lost and blind-sighted by an unanticipated decision by the “higher ups.”

In the hope of arming my fellow salesmen out there, I have put together a guideline, which I will publish in parts, to ensure that you can digest, critique and recreate the process for yourselves – never again to be dizzied by the complex world of B2B sales.

Please note: In this process, I am not going to cover the personality aspects of selling, such as building rapport and connecting with the buyer, as that should come naturally and each person has their own personal preference when it comes to engaging with the buyer.

Step 1, the objective

The first step in this process is to identify “the single sales objective” – why are they buying?

If the lead is from an inbound source or if your Sales Development Rep (SDR) has done a great job, then you are likely to know the answer to this question before the call, as they may have told you this already, at least in parts.

Contrary to public opinion, most of sales is not about talking. It’s about listening.

It’s about revealing layers of your product or service and truly hearing the responses of the buyer at each point. You will need to constantly be adapting your offering and ensuring that you address the buyer’s concerns, ease their pain and demonstrate the benefits to utilising your product/service. Some initial questions which you can ask to get the  buyer to open up about their needs/pain point could be:

If you are not sure how they are addressing their needs:

“[Name], I’d like to make sure that this call is as relevant to you as possible, so before we dive in to the demo, would you mind telling me how you currently address your needs with regards to [problem your product/service is solving]?”

What I love about this type of question, is that it demonstrates that you value the buyers time and are focused on helping the buyer.

Consultative selling is a great method for building relationships with buyers and in the first call, when the buyer is at the height of their uncertainty as to the value you are offering, it helps them realize your interest in their needs.

If they already have a solution in place:

“[Name], can you tell me about your experience with your current [system/process/product]? What do you love about it? What do you think could be improved?”

The positives about this type of question is that you give the buyer the chance to talk about themselves and elaborate, but you have added some clearly defined directions in your question as to where you want them to take their responses.

People love to talk about themselves and how they feel and this too is a great in road to allow you to dig further into their response and flesh out the real motivation that is driving their decision.

Depending on your product or service, this may be the critical conversation in your sales process, so it is important to ensure that you outline exactly what it is that is going to generate the value for the buyer or alleviate their pain.

My next article will focus on finding and connecting with the buying influencer. If you enjoyed the read, please like and share!

Happy hunting.