Figuring out whether the buyer can afford your solution is nearly as important as figuring out whether they can use it. After all, need doesn’t matter without the ability or desire to buy.
But talking about money with your prospect can be tricky. Not only can these conversations feel awkward, but you may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.
That’s where this list can help. To identify whether a buyer can -- and will -- pay for your product, use these 50 questions.
50 Sales Questions About Budget
Questions to Ask Every Prospect
The following questions are relevant whether you’re talking to an entry-level employee doing initial research for his boss or the C-level executive signing off on the deal. Use some (like #1) to discover details of the buying process and others (like #3 and #5) to inspire urgency.
1) Has [company] bought [this exact product, a similar product] before? How was it funded? What was the approximate price?
2) Based on the info you’ve given me, this problem is costing [you, your team, your department] approximately [X amount] per [week, month, year]. How does your allocated budget compare to that amount?
3) Based on the info you’ve given me, [you, your team, your department] stands to gain approximately [X amount] per [week, month, year] by investing in this opportunity. How does your allocated budget compare to that amount?
4) How much money would it take to build this in-house?
5) How much have you already spent trying to solve this problem?
6) Our solution typically falls between [X and Y range]. If you believe [product] can help you [achieve A results, solve B problem, meet your objective by C time], would that be feasible?
7) Before you invest [significant amount] in this initiative, you can spend just [price of introductory package or product] to see if it works for you and will drive [desirable result]. Is that a number you’re comfortable with?
Questions to Use With Your Champion
Customer champions are rare. Use your ally to your advantage by asking tougher, more direct questions about cost.
1) Is the budget owner an “executive sponsor”?
2) Is the budget authority sensitive to price?
3) Are you willing to work with me to find budget for this initiative if push comes to shove?
4) We can play around with price depending on the other terms you request. Approximately how much do you think [decision maker] wants to pay?
5) Can you tell me about the other stakeholders? Who is motivated by price? Is anyone pushing for the lowest-cost solution? What motivates them and what are their objectives?
6) Does the budget authority subscribe to the “buy cheap, buy risk” philosophy?
7) What other vendors are you considering?
8) How much budget did you use last [month, quarter, year]?
9) Do you often have unused budget?
10) What happens if you don’t use your entire budget? Do those funds roll over or expire?
11) When does your current budget cycle end?
12) When does your organization typically make major purchases?
13) What is Procurement’s review process like?
14) When a product seems like a game-changer but you don’t have the available funds right away, what does your team do?
15) Would [a payment plan, lower price for a longer contract, reduced service fees, discount for a referral customer] make a difference to the [decision maker, stakeholders]?
16) Can you draw from your future budget if necessary?
17) How do you typically get approval for purchases out of your budget?
18) Would [typical results] sway [final decision maker] to invest in [product] for [X price]?
Questions to Use With a Junior Stakeholder
Lower-level employees are often asked to look into potential options before passing the final decision off to their manager or a buying committee. You want to tread carefully when you ask budget-related questions -- it’s easy to sound patronizing. Once you’ve insulted them, you’ll probably lose their support.
To avoid this trap, call out their expertise or ask for their opinion.
1) Has the decision making team set aside budget for this project?
2) When you were given the responsibility of researching [vendors, solutions to X challenge], did you get a ballpark figure?
3) Whose budget is this coming out of?
4) Did you get any idea of how much [your manager, the signing authority] thought [company] should pay for this product?
5) Does this project already have approved funding, or do you need to request it?
6) What do you know about the budget for [product or service category]?
7) Can you describe the people involved in making the decision?
8) How heavily will price factor into your recommendation?
9) Does [decision maker] typically reject tools based on price?
10) Does [company] have a Procurement department? What are their financial considerations?
Questions to Use With the Budget Authority
This person has the most knowledge and influence over the purchasing decision. With these questions, you can identify potential roadblocks and move them closer to a “yes.”
1) Is price one of your main evaluation criteria?
2) Have you decided on a budget range for this purchase?
3) What’s the approximate ROI you’re hoping to get?
4) How does your department’s budget figure into the organization’s budget?
5) Are you working within a budget?
6) How much budget do you have set aside [this month, quarter, year] for [general product category]?
7) How much are you currently spending per [month, quarter, year] to address [problem, opportunity]?
8) How major a priority is [relevant business area] for your [team, department, business] this [month, quarter, year]? Does that align with your budget?
9) What is [result] worth to you?
10) [Customer stakeholder] said you were working within a budget of [$X and $Y] -- is that correct?
11) Would this be easier for you to push through if we [unbundled the package, billed you separately for X and Y, started on a lower rate]?
12) Is price the only thing stopping you from moving forward?
13) How much would you be willing to pay for [X component of product] by itself?
14) If we removed [X feature or add-on], the price would go down by approximately [Y percent]. Is that an option you’re interested in?
15) Would you be interested in hearing some of the creative ways my customers have found the budget for this purchase?
Once you’ve qualified your prospect for budget, identified any major roadblocks, and delved into their top priorities, you’ll be well on your way to making the sale. Get ready to spend that commission.
Originally published May 2, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017