Lessons From The IT Budget Crunch

By Jason Compton

Ink has not flowed freely over software contracts in the past few years, but you probably know that already. Rough economic times and cries for fiscal responsibility have drastically reduced many companies’ discretionary budget for software improvements and sometimes even upkeep, requiring greater agility from software salespeople. Just as Selling Power provides strategies for your side of the table, buyers have their own coaches and resources. In the tight climate of recent years, they have been extra diligent students.

With most clients no longer interested in giving their business to the longest laundry list of features, relationships with technology decision makers have become paramount. Successful software sales requires reps to know what satisfies the CIO and where the customer’s needs are most keenly felt.

One invaluable tool in the software sales arsenal is Morgan Stanley’s “CIO Survey” series, a monthly panel gauging the attitudes and inclinations of more than 200 of the most important CIOs in America. While there’s no substitute for legwork among your own customer base, the survey provides organized insight over time into the trends that matter and the concerns that keep technology decision makers up at night.

The CIO survey is archived at www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch

Even though some software-on-demand experiments have been colossal commercial failures, clients continue to signal they are eager to shift their cash flow to favor more gradual payments over time for programs and services. If the solution is right but the contract terms are wrong, ask clients to help you structure a deal that provides fair return to both sides.

Don’t let a perceived budget crunch bring conversation to a standstill. After all, software buyers are under tremendous pressure to show positive returns on their investment. Make the conversation about benefits rather than payouts and you’ll be speaking the language of their success. “It’s less about budget and more about impact,” says Michael Brizz, developer of the Referral Mastery System. “If you can provide a solution that significantly reduces cost, they’ll find the budget.”