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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Follow the Money to Make the Sale

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | Comments Off on Follow the Money to Make the Sale

For a business owner, having a great product or service is essential.  However, many businesses are not successful because they fail to ask this question: Who has the money?

While the answer seems obvious, often the person who is the user of a product or service is not the payer, the person who approves the expenditure or writes the check.

I know a physical therapist who specializes in serving high school students. I was told that any athlete who wants to be successful should use this person’s expertise. But does the student have the money? No. Following the money, you start to understand that it’s not the teenager that needs to be convinced – it’s their parent.

A bioscience company specializes in providing “knowledge leadership.” They had a great relationship with the scientists working in key research fields. When I asked about how they monetize knowledge leadership, I got a bit of pushback and a blank stare.

An analytics expert has a great replacement product for a widely used viewer. The users thought it was a significant improvement.  However, they did not control the purse strings. When we did a pay-per-click campaign we got lots of views (technical experts), but not too many sales. As it turned out, the folks with the money were satisfied with what they currently used.

Analyze the issue

First, you need to understand what problem your product or service solves.

How do you solve it?

And what makes your solution different?

Next, learn what your user (maybe not the payer) is doing today. Is your solution an improvement? Are the benefits compelling enough to motivate the user to change?

Now ask the question: Who has the money?  

Tailor the messaging

When it comes to selling, you need to intrigue and motivate the user to want your solution.

But that’s only the start.

You next need to find a way to get the user to become your advocate to the person with the money. When you create the marketing message, it not only has to explain your value proposition, but you need to find a way to get the user to pitch it to the payer (buyer).

The most important marketing component often is not what your product or service will do, but how your product or service will make the user more successful.

Examples:

For the personal trainer, a video showcasing a student champion is more powerful than demonstrating a specific training technique. The parent (payer) will then be able to understand that if they spend money on personal training, their student athlete also can become a champion.

For our bioscience expert, the key is to focus on outcomes, not knowledge. Provide real case solutions where customers have worked with the team, acquired the knowledge, and implemented a viable commercial solution.

In a B2B situation, make sure you ask if there is budget already allocated. Understand who is involved in the decision-making process. Complex sales often have a technical buyer, purchasing person, and executive sponsor.

Remember that you may need to have different marketing materials for each one, because they have different drivers. Often, it is helpful to explain to the user (your advocate) which messaging or marketing materials might be most effective with different members of the purchasing team.

Are you making a presentation or site visit? Try to ensure that everyone involved in the sale are present, if possible. If a key person is missing, you may be wasting your time, or have to come back several times.

If you are having a conference call, you can evaluate potential success by who joins. If one of the executive sponsors isn’t on the call, you may have a problem. If you don’t know who the executive sponsor is, you’ll need to determine who the right person is to keep moving the sales process forward.

In the end, you can have the best solution available, but if you can’t explain to the person with the money the value to both the user and organization, you will not be successful.

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.