If you accept the premise that the questions a salesperson or vendor asks a prospect indicates the focus of their business and their commitment to helping their clients then the worst question you could ask is: “What’s your budget?”
Here is a partial list of the terrible things that question says about you and your company:
- I have a budget or quota to meet and I need to know how much of that you would potentially be able to get me
- We want to know how much we can sell you
- We don’t have the time or the inclination to find out your true needs and make a fair and effective recommendation based on our knowledge and expertise
- We base our recommendations on how much money you have to spend
- We’re looking to qualify you, from a potential spending standpoint, before we invest a lot of time in helping your company
- We’re more concerned with how much of the available budget we get rather than determining how much you actually need to invest to get the result you want
- We assume the client has already decided to use our product or medium and have already put aside a bucket of money specifically for our business
- We are all about transactions and aren’t really concerned with demonstrating or showing you how we can be effective for your business
Are there legitimate reasons for needing to know what the budget is? NO!
Prior to starting my own marketing company, I was a sales representative for over 20 years and I never had a single client say “What you sold me didn’t work, but it fit my budget – thanks!” A professional salesperson or representative should be able to develop other techniques for determining what the investment should be for his/her client to get the result they want. The likelihood is that you wouldn’t be calling on the client or the client wouldn’t have reached out to you unless there was a reasonable potential that you could help their business.
A professional salesperson or representative should be able to develop other techniques for determining what the investment should be for his/her client to get the result they want.
By spending the time to understand their needs, goals and desired outcomes you should be able to recommend the proper investment. If they respond with “We don’t have the budget for that”, then it would be a simple matter of asking “How did you develop that budget?” This can then lead to a meaningful conversation about the investment necessary and what alternative programs you might be able to develop that would more closely align with their budget. In this scenario, the topic of budgets was introduced by the client and sets the opportunity for you to discuss the potential misalignment between the budget and the outcome you have determined they want. And in the process, you’ve demonstrated that you’ve taken the time to understand their business and are more committed to getting them results than meeting your budget.