Is there really no budget? The truth about selling to corporates

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My motto: never work with sh**ty clients

Let me share a little talked-about secret:

The real reason why your corporate prospects tell you they don’t have the budget right now to work with you.

Or, even more likely- why they put you off with a bland “we’ll be in touch”… (we all know how that goes, right?)

Did you really charge too much? Should you have offered a discount?

What pricing IS right to sell to corporates?

I’ll give you a hint.

It’s not that they don’t have the time right now. They never have – but that’s not stopping them from hiring another professional instead.

It’s also not that they don’t have the budget (see comment above)

And it’s definitely not because they don’t need what you are offering, that much is clear.

What’s going is they are confused by your offer. 😲

And by “offer” I don’t mean the work you are offering to do. Your offer is so much more than that!

I’ll talk about that in just one moment.

Something that always annoyed and baffled me in my initial conversations with prospects was this. They seemed so interested, essentially told me that had exactly the problems I could solve for them and needed exactly the help I could give.

However, when I presented my offer, I’d hear “it’s not a good time right now” or “we don’t have the budget at the moment”.

Or I hear nothing at all…

——–

Sales trainers told me not to let these objections get in the way.

To keep at it. To keep explaining what they had to lose by not solving their challenges. How much it would cost them if they stayed where they were. Keep telling them about the benefits of my offer…

I’d set more meetings, send follow up emails, asked questions until they’d go completely quiet.

And in hindsight, I empathize with them.

Most of these people were nice people, and what else can a nice person say when they’re simply not sold on my offer?

Yet, I couldn’t understand. They needed my help but wouldn’t buy?

It was massively frustrating and caused no end of self-doubt, moments of wanting to chuck it all in and wondering if I was really cut out for this consulting malarky.

The pain was real! Because when I did land clients, I loved the work and they were always incredibly grateful for the results they got. So I wanted to make a success of it…

But what I didn’t understand in those early days was that business clients don’t buy just a service.

Or a product. Or even your expertise. What they really buy is an offer that consists of 6 essential parts. And those parts have to be in alignment, otherwise, the whole offer seems wrong.

It’s like when you see a Gucci watch being offered for $50 on eBay. Or a Ferrari for $2,000 in a car sales outlet.

You just KNOW that there is something not quite right about this offer and will likely walk away…

What I was inadvertently doing was not aligning the various parts of my offer in a way that made full sense.

See, the essential parts for a corporate offer are:

👉 Credibility (I had that, being a chartered accountant + 20years experience)

👉 Product/services (what I actually offered)

👉 Results ( I did talk about this though I honed that a lot more since – I’ll talk about this in another post)

👉 Experience (what is it actually like to work with me – again, I should have done more here)

👉 Options (building up the courage to do this right took time and a clever process – will talk about this next week)

👉 Pricing (aligned with all the other parts)

And the pricing was actually one of my main stumbling blocks, as I learned.

When you start out with corporate clients, pricing can seem like a minefield. Even experienced consultants and coaches often struggle when they start offering something new or work in different ways.

There is a lot of advice on HOW you could price your services. But very little about how this fits your offer.

And there are some strong opinions about what is the best way to price yourself.

By the hour, by product, by results – gaaah, I totally get it: it IS confusing.

I was confused, EVEN THOUGH I had te special insights as a former CFO into how corporate decision-makers think.

So I am not surprised when others go the simplest way and benchmark against what others charge. ‘Cause, that must work, right?

Just it doesn’t.

Because this will only work if the pricing that everyone else charges aligns to the offer. And it will only be aligned to YOUR offer (remember: your offer is not your service) if you offer what everyone else does… which makes you that least profitable (and least attractive) of professional: the commodity coach, consultant or trainer.

At this point, if you stick with the benchmarking approach, you have limited options:

👉 Be a commodity, offer what everyone else does for the price everyone else charges and get the results everyone else has (aka not enough clients who pay their full value) or

👉 Have an offer that is imbalanced because your pricing isn’t right for your offer.

But there is secret option 3: ignore what others are charging and make sure your pricing is aligned with your offer.

This means 3 things:

  1. Aligning your pricing with your credibility (no, it’s not about how long you’ve been in business or who you worked with. It’s generally not even about the vast number of qualifications you hold!)
  2. Aligning your pricing with the results you achieve. If this is out of whack, clients will not buy – End. Off.
  3. Aligning your pricing with the options you offer. (Yes, I said options – I know that’s heresy in the eyes of so many sales trainers… yet I AND my students have amazing success with this IF done right.

Once I realised these points (and I will happily admit, I had help with that) the dynamics of my prospecting and sales conversations, heck in my whole business development changed.

Why your pricing has to make SENSE

For example, I realised it made no sense for me to position myself with my credentials as a former Big 4 consultant and CFO yet charge rates that were more fitting to the bums-on-seats consultants.

Similarly, I helped one of my students win her first corporate clients by significantly RAISING the pricing for her 3month program because the results she promised made no sense at the initial price.

Most professionals don’t realise that the disconnect in the different parts of their offer (they might not even be aware that there ARE different parts).

When you reconnect or align these parts you will likely hear much fewer of the “we don’t have the budget” or “can you give us a discount”. You likely find that a lot more prospects DO actually get back to you and that the famous “crickets” response after your initial conversations becomes as rare as the Dodo.

Because now, when they come away from the conversation, they have an offer from you that makes sense to them.

For me, knowing how to do this meant

  • closing 82% of all sales conversations and pitches – both for myself and my business clients.
  • And for my students, it means landing corporate clients in as little as 30 days or
  • charging $15k for 3x90min sessions.
  • Or even tripling their prices with previous clients without them batting an eyelid.

If you want to get results like these – all you have to do is implement the tips!

In summary

When prospects say there is no budget, the real reason most likely is that they are confused by your offer.

Help them say yes by making sure you align all 6 parts of your offer so that it “makes sense” to them

That means do not talk about huge benefits while only charging a tiny fee – that does NOT make sense

Miriam

Miriam

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Miriam Gilbert, founder of Impactfulness Lab, smiling

About Me

With more than 20years experience as a corporate decision-maker and CFO, 8+years running my own 6-figure consultancy I KNOW exactly what goes on in corporate mindsets – and how to sneak into their brain, charm their mind and get them to throw their budget at you.

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