You’ve Asked For a Budget and Didn’t Get an Answer – Now What?

Brian Onorio
Brian Onorio
January 4, 2019

The hardest element to verify before truly considering your lead qualified is the budget. We’ve gone over the four basic principles of a qualified lead before. To recap, your lead is not qualified unless you can provide sound details on these four criteria:

  • Budget – does your prospect have enough in their budget to pay for your goods or services?
  • Authority – do you know who is ultimately making the decision to cut a check?
  • Need – does your good or service align with the needs your prospect has?
  • Timing – at what point in time is your prospect ready to make a purchasing decision?

The acronym BANT is a good way to remember these criteria. It’s important to note that you do not have a qualified lead unless you can provide details on each criterion of BANT.

The Budget Song and Dance

Authority, need, and timing are relatively simple questions to get straight answers to. But everyone, from vendor to prospect, freezes up when it comes to the budget discussion. We’ve given some helpful tips on how to ask for a budget and get an answer before and this article will shed more light on the most difficult of qualifying activities.

Let’s face it. No one likes to talk about money. You don’t want to ask the question as the vendor and if you’re the one being sold to, you don’t really want to provide an answer. After all, whose business is it what your budget is? That’s a fine approach to take when buying a car, but B2B business providers often don’t have a handy price sheet leaving a wide chasm between real value and perceived value. Your job, as a salesperson, is to narrow that gap and ensure that real value and perceived value are perfectly aligned.

You Asked For a Budget and Didn’t Get An Answer

Now the fun part. You did your job and honestly asked for the budget that your prospect is working with. And you get one of these two stock answers:

  1. “I don’t know what our budget is” or
  2. “We don’t have a budget”

Let’s dissect this.

If you get stock answer #1 and assuming your prospect is telling the truth, then go back to the authority criteria of your qualification metrics. You’re not talking to the right person. Your job is now to navigate to the person who would have information on the budget. You can ask simple questions like “well let me help you figure that out. Is there someone else on your team we can invite to our next conversation who may be able to shed some light on your budget?” No one likes to be out-of-the-know. Ask this question and you’ll likely get them to concede and provide a name of a person who should be at that next meeting. There’s your authority. It’s important not to make your contact feel small over the course of this dialog. However, it’s incredibly important to your success that you have conversations with the person who is making the decisions. Walk this tightrope tactfully.

If you get stock answer #2, your prospect is probably not telling the truth. That doesn’t make them a liar, but they’re playing the game. They certainly do have a budget or, assuming for a moment they don’t, they most certainly have an understanding of what the upper limit to what they will feasibly pay is. This one is a bit trickier to navigate because your prospect, rightfully, doesn’t want you to provide them with a pricing schedule that is based on what their budget is. They want you to provide the best good or service at the best possible price, regardless of their budget. That seems fair, right?

Unfortunately, and especially with complex service offerings, it’s not quite that simple. But you can still navigate this to get an answer to ensure that you have a fully qualified lead.

Ask For Patience or Transparency

A great tactic that has worked well in my career is to follow up the song and dance with a very simple, very powerful statement: patience or transparency. It will go something like this.

I understand that you may not want to provide your budget, so I’m going to ask for one of two things: either your patience or your transparency.

If you don’t want to provide your budget, I’ll go back to the office and my team will assemble the “kitchen sink” of service offerings. We’ll throw everything at you that we think you need, put together a budget, and you may get sticker shock from it. But we’ll work together to whittle it down to the services you need for the budget you have. That will take time, so I ask for your patience.

Or you can be transparent with me and I can work with my team to put together the absolute best slate of services for the budget you have and the process will be much quicker.

Here’s why this is a powerful tactic. You’re giving your prospect options. They feel in control and either option here is good for both you and your prospect. If they choose patience, you’ve prepared them for the likely outcome of getting a proposal back that is large in size and scope but that you’ll work together to get it inside of their budget parameters. You’ve defused the likely scenario of your prospect having sticker shock and simply not returning your calls or emails.

Or, at this point, they may open up and provide you with the budget because they realize the true benefits of working together to solve your first problem collaboratively.

These techniques take time to master, but you can certainly employ them starting today. Step one is overcoming anxiety around the budget question and learn how to build trust with your prospect. If you mutually trust each other, you can expect a free flow of information back-and-forth that will help you overcome any hurdles with your prospect that you may have now or in the future.

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