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Qualifying for Budget


Written by Eric Fry for the Nova Scotia Business Journal, published February, 2013

Shhhhh… we’re not supposed to talk about money - it’s not polite and it may upset the customer.

Salespeople can be somewhat reticent to talk about money or budget during the sales process because it may not be their most comfortable topic to bring up. So what’s the alternative? Well, one option is to leave the meeting with little to no knowledge about how much the prospect is willing (and able) to pay for your product or service. This can most certainly come back to bite them at some point during the sales cycle. Traditional sales people may uncover a prospect’s issues or pains but then hurry back to their office to write up a proposal they are certain should be accepted because the prospect has indicated they want to fix the issue(s).

Then it’s back to the prospect’s office to present the solution that was discussed the meeting prior only to find out that the budget the prospect had in mind is half of what the salesperson was hoping it might be. Is this real or just a negotiating tactic? Because the topic of money was not discussed, the salesperson’s solution is now considered overkill and expensive – if the deal is not completely over by then, there is a possibility that it could be saved by either cutting the price or confusing the prospect by backtracking on the first solution and re-selling a less expensive solution after he/she was sold on the initial one. Let’s be honest, the likelihood is there that the prospect may decide to just choose another supplier.

As business people in sales, you might have approached this sales opportunity differently. Are you introducing the topic of budget at the beginning of the selling process so that the prospect clearly understands that this will need to be addressed before a proposal is generated? Leaving the budget discussion until the presentation stage will most certainly introduce stalls and objections that can undoubtedly derail the sales process.

After you’ve qualified the prospect’s issues and pains, are you quantifying them in terms of what these issues are costing them on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis? Have you asked them what kind of budget they might assign to this to make these issues go away? Would you rather handle money objections or prevent them?

Crafting and asking compelling questions that qualify the prospect’s budget helps remove ambiguity throughout the selling cycle. Ask them early and ask them thoroughly - it will pay off in the end.

©2013 Sandler Training Inc. ( is an international sales and management training/consulting firm. For a free copy of Why Salespeople Fail And What To Do About It, call the Sandler Training at 902-468-0787 or e-mail