Selling Your Services Based on Need Rather Than Budget

“It’s not in our budget.” This is something I’m hearing a lot of lately. People may like what you’re doing and would like to sign up for your services, but the coffers are empty. These are tough times. Like many of my colleagues, I get all fired up after a presentation. I see that my audience is excited and receptive, asking good questions and eager to enlist my services.

I walk away convinced that I’ve made a sale, go home and knock out a proposal and forward it, expecting the wannabe to become my new client. But that’s just not the way it works.

I just read an article that made sense to me. Start with a needs assessment. Find out what the client really needs–not what you think he/she needs, which requires some careful listening. Restrain yourself from babbling on about your services; your clients are much more likely to be interested in talking about themselves.

Once you thoroughly understand their needs, prepare two proposals. Option #1 is going to fall within their budget, so talk about what you can provide at that price point. Segue into Option #2, which really addresses the pain. Clearly identify the challenge based on your needs assessment and how you can resolve it. By carefully detailing your strategy, you will make Option #2 the preferred solution because it is thoughtful and carefully constructed to solve problems.

I have real-life experience that confirms the wisdom of this approach. I used to work at Bank of America (I know–who didn’t?) and we were always having budget and hiring freezes. But the funny thing was that when we needed more staff, we found a way to hire someone.

When it became clear that we needed new technology to work more efficiently, we found a way to add a new line item to the budget. Neither of these allocations of dollars happened without a careful needs analysis and demonstration of how it would help us increase productivity. When I look back on those days, I don’t think the actual dollar amount ever seemed to be an issue. People find a way to spend money if they’re convinced that it will help them work more effectively to grow their businesses.

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