Given our current times, I’m sure you’re finding decisions are moving up by at least one or two levels in authority; deals today are under much greater scrutiny. As organizations try to find their way through 2020, deals that do get approved must be associated to top business priorities. In ValueSelling, we call this the Business Issue(s).

Alignment to top business priorities was required six months ago, before our worldwide pandemic. However, our buyers with budget and authority were able to approve “nice to have” projects. Fast forward to today, that same deal now requires us to go up a level or two higher to get final approval. And this may be a level or two higher than we’re used to dealing with in the past. These higher levels are now digging deeper into deals and asking questions like “Why should we do this?” and “Why should we do it now?” In addition to is it worth the investment given all the uncertainty around us.

Some of you may think of these top business priorities as the compelling event, the thing that drives urgency for them to change and change now. The key characteristics of it need to be: timebound, measurable, and it needs to be something that someone of power cares enough about to drive budgets, authority, and a willingness to take a risk given the times we’re in.

Trust me, six months from now, a year from now, five years from now, you’re still going to be looking for those critical Business Issues (top business priorities). Also known as “the leaky roof” for those that have taken ValueSelling training with me in the last 12 years.  Why am I calling it the leaky roof? I’m willing to bet that there are things around your house that you would like to improve. Need to change. Unacceptable to you. However, all homeowners have limited time, energy, and capital to be able to address all those improvements.

Let me take you to my first home in Georgia. As we walk through my home, we would first come in via a wooden front door. It was beautiful! When I bought the house. Little did I know that the Georgia weather would cause it to swell and fade. Now, that’s a problem I want to address. Luckily for me, there’s a perfect solution available…a beautiful glass and steel entryway.

I had oak floors throughout which were beautiful as well, but they had some of the same issues due to weather and my two Golden Retrievers loved to scratch them. They started to look tired and worn, which was another problem. Lucky for me again, there was a solution available to me…slate floors throughout.

I’m only going to complain about one more thing… the builder’s grade stove. It wasn’t even gas! The kitchen is the heart of any home. All our celebrations and gatherings occurred there, and I had to look at that ineffective eyesore. It was a problem. And I found the perfect solution, a fancy stainless-steel stove. You know the ones, they’re giant monstrosities, and they’re awesome!

I would have loved to fix all these problems. Unfortunately, I only had a certain amount of time and resources to be able to work on the house. Organizations, big and small, are exactly the same. They all deal with thousands of problems and must make decisions on which to address first.

Now, let’s assume that my house had a leaky roof. Fixing the roof would be a must do type of item. If I don’t address it, I could get mold and mildew, and I could lose the entire house because of it. That leaky roof is a top priority. It takes precedence over all those other problems. In fact, it’s so important, that I am willing to take budget away from solving those other problems or borrow money, so that I can fix the leaky roof.

Let’s transition to thinking about your pipeline and opportunities today. Are they associated with a “nice to have” problem that needs to be fixed, or are they associated with “leaky roof” top level priorities? Top level priorities drive an organization to shift dollars and do things quickly, even with the uncertainty in the market today. In fact, top level priorities are the only ones really getting funded today.

Take another look at your qualified opportunities. Find the leaky roofs and make sure your project is associated so that your deal gets enough momentum to get over the finish line.

Happy selling!

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Carlos has 25 years of experience in the enterprise software industry, including sales, service, business development, creation of partner alliances and business operations. He’s advised companies including Comcast, NCR, Sumo Logic, ServiceNow, and VMware.

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