At a certain stage of the deal, there are a few things buyers sometimes say that make sales professionals panic.
One of them is when the potential buyer comes back and asks you to rework the numbers in your business case. For example, let’s say you’re trying to sell a very expensive solution to a big account. Let’s say this solution will help save the prospect $1 million each year. However, your stakeholder comes back to you and suddenly asks for a business case to support $500,000 savings, rather than the full $1 million. At this point, many sales professionals start to panic or worry that their deal is losing credibility.
The Importance of Your Business Case
Remember, these cost savings are your business case. It's very important to have your case ready so you can use facts to justify your value to the high-level finance executive who will likely be examining all the paperwork related to the potential deal with a fine-tooth comb. If that executive sees he or she can save $1 million, you've paved the way for a successful close.
Back to the above example: Based on what I've seen, that is not necessarily cause for alarm. In fact, it might even be a good sign. The reason sales professionals don’t realize this, is that they don’t understand the kinds of internal conversations that are going on in the prospect’s company. It’s very likely that your sponsor/champion remembered back to a previous project authorization when the CFO asked them, “ OK, that sounds great. So because this will save your department $1 million next year, I am going to cut your budget by $1 million. Do you still want me to approve this project?”
Naturally at that point your sponsor might rethink the business case a bit if they hadn't already built-in a buffer. A case that supports a half a million dollars in savings would leave them some room for error and, if the original estimate were correct, some excess funds for the year. That’s often why the sponsor returns to the sales rep and asks, “I want this business case to be more conservative. Can we cut the savings in half?”
Keep Internal Conversations in Mind
Always remember that you don’t necessarily know what conversations are happening internally among prospects. This isn't really your business case, it’s your prospect’s. They need to own the numbers, because they understand all the moving parts involved in partnering with you on adopting a new, expensive technology solution. Your goal should be to give your internal sponsor whatever props he or she might need to put on a successful performance for the CFO (or whomever will be signing off on the final decision).
The next time your deal seems like it’s headed south based on a request for a revised business case, don’t lose confidence. It could be that this is actually a sign that you’re moving even closer to closing the deal.
Can you remember a time when you thought a deal was taking a turn for the worse? Did a strong business case help you? Share your thoughts in the comments section.