What is a business case?
In management terms a business case is the reason why a specific task or project has been initiated. In sales terms it’s the reason why your prospect is considering your products or services.
While most sales individuals get to what a prospect needs in a solution many fail to understand why they need it. An ideal business case should contain the following information:
The status quo
Problems with the status quo
The impact of those problems on the prospect’s business
The trigger behind initiating the change
Must haves that the new solution should contain and why they are must haves
Everything else like who the decision maker will be, the numbers involved and time lines are irrelevant to the business case. They only serve as additional qualifying parameters.
A common mistake made by most salesmen is trying to get every single bit of information on the first call. The singular focus of the initial contact with the prospect has to be to understand the business case. Once you have the business case, you can truly understand what is valuable to the prospect.
Questions for building a better business case
1) Why are you considering our services/product?
Most organizations usually have a solution in place and there is usually a reason why they want to move away from the solution. The question above not only gets you those reasons but also lets you know a little bit more about the current solution that is installed. Our experience has shown that most organizations only want to switch because their solution is either outdated or cannot adapt to their growth plans. However, as a good sales individual we recommend keeping your ears open when you ask this question.
2) So what are the challenges you are facing with your current solution/service?
A natural continuation of the first question. However, by getting your prospect to outline issues with the current solution, you get great insight into what ails your prospect and in his own words. Remember, don’t look at these problems as a feature list but as actual challenges a manager or a business owner is facing.
3) How are these challenges hampering the way you work?
You know what is wrong with the current product, now is the time to ask your prospect how those challenges are impacting his business. This question is awesome not because we use this all the time at Inside Selling but because you actually get the prospect to acknowledge he has a problem. In fact, in a few cases we have actually had prospects acknowledge that they have never really translated these challenges into a business impact before!
4) Why are you looking for a solution now?
So you know what ails your prospect and how it is hurting him but it is equally important that you also understand the trigger behind initiating the change. Most business systems/services are in place in an organization for years before they consider switching. What is important to understand is why they are making the switch at a specific time. This not only helps you understand the urgency of making the switch but also helps you understand how important the solution is in the overall scheme of things.
In a services based scenario the trigger is even more important because this usually gives you insights into time lines. A typical response would be like “Our current contract is running out on xyz date and we are looking at options”
Remember: You may get the answer to question 4 with question 1. So stay sharp!
5) Are there any more must have requirements?
While the business case typically revolves around the current problems being faced. Many a sale gets dropped midway because while the solution meets all existing needs, sales individuals forget that the new solution is designed to be an upgrade. Naturally, anyone looking for a new solution would like to get more than just an answer to their problems.
Therefore, by asking about must haves you are making sure you do not pour countless hours into something that your solution simply cannot do.
6) Can you help me understand why these must haves are important to you?
In continuation to question 5, you also need to know the value that these must haves will bring to the organization.
Having dealt with so many customers over the years we have discovered that sometimes must haves are just a feature list provided to a colleague by someone in a higher position.
When we questioned the importance of those features we found out that the prospect himself did not know the importance hence we were able to work with him and show him workarounds in the process.
When it comes to services selling, question 6 usually gives considerable breathing space in terms of customization and making sure you are prepared up front.
If you like do share and remember to subscribe to our newsletter.