“Timing is everything.” A cliché, perhaps, but this basic fact is true in both your personal and professional life. In the latter, be your profession a musician, stand-up comic, day-trader, or a sales person, being at the right time, the right place, and having just the right piece of wisdom to impart, will almost always help you carry the day. My specialty is in financial sales execution, so I’ll confine my comments to the sales world.
Too often, I see sales folks do a brilliant job in identifying customer needs, architecting the perfect solution, and negotiating a contract that is a win for both the customer and the vendor, only to find out that the customer cannot shepherd the deal through the budget process.
Fortunately, one does not need luck or the talent of Bob Hope or Stephen Colbert for comedic timing to get your audience to buy in to financial selling; you just need to engage early and ask the right questions of the right people. Executing financial sales is not any different from what one does on the technical sale – you find out about your customers’ needs, desires, and constraints, then you architect a solution that will solve their problems or help you neutralize the objections. But you are most likely successful and profitable only if you contemplate this and make provisions for it early in the sales cycle.
- Insufficient budget
- Does not have the right kinds of budget – operating expense vs. capital expense
- Need to align expenditures to revenue generation or deployment
- Failure to convincingly show enough value (ROI) to elevate the investment priority
Other important things to know or have are:
- Customer’s financial evaluation metrics
- Financial decision process and makers
- Clear and concise presentation to make your case to the financial decision makers
Knowing your customers’ budgetary and financial constraints early in the cycle can give you a huge leg up on structuring a proposal that addresses these critical factors without resorting to deep discounts or downsizing the solution at the ninth hour.
As Sun Zsu put it more than two thousand years ago: “Know thyself, know thy enemy. A hundred battles, a hundred victories”, and “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
Engage early, learn what the hurdles are, and develop a game plan designed to win.