8 Ways to Get C-Levels and Gov’t Execs to Start Spending in This Depression

Right now corporate and government officials are keeping spending and capital investments to minimum. Even if government projects are funded and have nothing to do with budgets, they are still being put on hold. Why, because it’s not right to spend now. It looks badly and ultimately the fear factor. Although capital spending is just what the economy needs. It creates jobs and has a direct impact on moral.

In a year or two this depression will be a memory and greater than 98% of all businesses and 99% of all government agencies will still be doing business as usual. So between now and then they still have to produce. And this is your opportunity. If you find out what’s really important to their survival, you’ll know what they will spend money on. If they are smart, they will invest now to have a leading position against competition when the depression is over.

So here is what to do to get them to open their wallets.

1. Network to key executives and decision makers to find out what’s important now for survival. Ask them, (a) what are their issues and concerns right now, (b) pepper them with other concerns you think they should have to see if they agree, and (c) ask what you and your company could possibly do to help them with it – even if it isn’t in your direct solution portfolio. You’ll get them thinking. Frame it around the idea that they wouldn’t even have to spend a dime. That will get them thinking even more. And this is what you want. They are so mired in miserly thinking that they can’t think straight.

2. Open your thinking. They may tell you things that you can’t help with, but if you open up your mind, you may see new opportunities that extend your solution portfolio. For example and architect friend was confronted with a scrapbook problem of his wife and kids. Business was slow for him, so he used his creative juices to design castle stamps based on designs of castles integrated into letters and numbers.

Now you don’t have to do anything if you can’t figure out a way to participate. However, you will establish yourself as a concerned vendor, and possibly a resource that these execs can call as they think of other things. This is the essence of a professional relationship – something you want to always develop and maintain.

3. Wave their magic wands. Ask them to creatively and openly think about what they would spend money on now if there was no depression, or they had tons of capital available to them – things that would help them now and/or once the economy is bustling again. This is different than the questions asked above. Somehow the magic wands release ideas that point to future actions.

4. Be creative yourself. If they can’t think of anything, or only mention a few, throw-out ideas you feel they should be thinking about and see if they feel the same as you. What you’re trying to do is understand their path to success. This is the arena you’ll eventually have to play in. It makes for great conversation which again goes to establishing relationships. And then you’ll be able to start structuring your approach around these ideas. These are what they will pursue as soon as they feel it’s safe to start spending. You want to be positioned as the valued resource who helped them prepare for it.

5. Up and out is my motto. Be sure to do the above with all the key staffers and executives. The more key executives you talk with the more you’ll learn. It’s not just the direct, functional manager. Talk with the sales manager, the HR manager, the CFO, operations, etc. Use your contacts or the previous person you interviewed to network you to the next person.

6. Get to the profit-center leader (PCL) or the ultimate funds releaser for government – and it’s not the CFO or comptroller. Be sure you conduct the above meetings with the execs before approaching the PCL. You’ll need their insights and information base of needs and ideas because if they are doing their jobs, they’ve already had conversations with PCL about them. Besides they will have to support any proposals or suggestions you’ll eventually offer to the PCL. Build you base before you go to the top. You’ll understand the PCL better and be able to converse at a higher level. Besides the more supporters the better.

Conduct the interview in the same manor as above similar questions about concerns, what would s/he do, magic wand, etc.

7. Wrap-up all your conversations with your appreciation of their time spent with you and that you’ve got a lot of information that’s creating lots of ideas and you’d like to review it with other experts in your organization and network and put together an information piece for you to present and them to review. Ask if s/he would be interested. If yes, set up a date to get back or for the review. This is where you’ll start enticing them to start spending. There is nothing like knowing what people want and then showing how they can get it if they spend a little money. Unfortunately it’s a process. You can’t assume you know what they want, offer it up and they buy. They have to go through their own process of buying also – hopefully with your help.

If the say “Not at this time”, ask in these words, “You don’t seem interested, please explain how come?” What ever s/he says, don’t argue or rebut. Accept it and thank her for her candor and then say, “What would you recommend I do?” Thank her again. Then decide if you want to do it or not, but sleep on it before you make your final decision.

If she says something about the timings not right or not now, this is a put-off. In other words, she’s not interested and wants to be polite. So push back a little and say something to the effect, “Please, it seems you’re not interested and if so, don’t spare my feelings, what about this doesn’t interest you?” This will take a little courage and you’ll have to practice saying it in front of a mirror to pull it off. But if you do, you’ll be so rewarded with valuable insights. You can call and thank me.

If appropriate, leave it with her that you will call in a few days about accepting her recommendation. If she tells you there is nothing you can do. Drop it for now and just keep her on you 2-3 month follow-up. However, this is only one person and it’s today. Be sure to keep interviewing others. If three tell you “no interest” then drop it and move to another client for now.

It’s amazing the metamorphous of 2-3 months regarding actions. But if you’ve done the above, you’ll know their desire and paths to get them – and these don’t easily change over time.

8. Do this process with your best customers. Even if you met with someone last week, set up a new meeting to do the above interview. Be sure to go up and out. Otherwise you’ll be getting only one perspective and it may be off a little or stilted to that person’s motivation. The more people you interview, the more you’ll see the real story evolve and this is what will show you the path to their pocketbook.

And now I invite you to learn more.