“Is there a budget?”
Uncovering budgets and finding out what level your prospect can invest at is a critical part of qualifying who you can do business with, especially if you are in a business where you can offer different solutions at different prices. Unfortunately, this is a topic a lot of sales people avoid. One of the reasons they avoid this topic is what we refer to as a “money concept” problem. Due to instructions many salespeople received when they were young… “It’s not polite to talk about money”, they now find it uncomfortable to talk with prospects about their budget. It often seems that they would rather spend time on prospects with no money than go through that “uncomfortable” process of qualifying people for money. What they fail to understand is that not talking about budgets and how much someone is willing to spend, not only wastes time, but can also put their prospect in an uncomfortable position.
First, they run the risk of telling someone a price they can’t afford. Even though they might have other options available, the prospect makes an assumption that what they have been presented with is the price and they feel forced to look elsewhere.
Second, they might make the mistake of presenting a price that is too low. They run the risk of having their offer compared to more expensive options and the prospect may draw the conclusion that what they have is in some way inferior. Often times the prospect doesn’t inform the salesperson that they are uncomfortable with what was offered. Instead, they tell them that they need time to “think it over”, when in reality they have already rejected the offer!
Solving this problem requires changing perceptions about money and learning how to ask the right questions. Once it is understood that not uncovering budgets could make prospects more uncomfortable than talking about money, it should be easier to develop a different perception about the subject. Start out by finding out if the prospect has a budget. If they have a budget established, you need to know how much money they are willing to spend as well as who makes the decision to spend it. Not asking these questions puts you in the position where you are less likely to present an option that meets their money expectations. If they are unwilling to share this information with you, most likely it’s because they are using you for a price check.
Remember, without knowledge of your prospect’s budget and how much they can spend, the likelihood of making the sale is greatly diminished.