There’s a common sentiment that if it’s not in the budget, it won’t happen. However, after surveying over 100 emissaries, the days of strategizing appropriate times to market to clients through the fiscal year might be over.

Sara Nunez, Chief Executive Officer at Dream To Succeed US, discusses how funding out-of-cycle is no longer a big deal and what that means for investments and customer needs.

How budgeting is changing

How budgeting works in today’s market is much different than it used to. Due to changes like the digital transformation acceleration caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, budgeting is much less rigid.

Historically, we’ve been taught that there is a right and wrong time to market or sell to a client depending on the fiscal year. As such, you would calendar the right times of year to reach out — hoping to get your case built as a line item. If you miss the window and you’re not in the budget, good luck next year.

The competitive edge

After surveying emissaries, this no longer seems to be the case. Many are funding cases regardless of the fiscal year. And the reason? Opportunities. The pandemic has put a huge emphasis on the customer experience and raised competition.

The last thing a company would want to do in this situation is to lose out on an opportunity because it falls outside the old structure. However, while the looser structure may help companies be open to new opportunities, marketers will have to try harder to gain their attention.

“With big data analytics, they can be able to be more predictable; they will be able to allocate funds, and then be able to have them in a sandbox. So they can pick and use the dollars at any given point.” — Sara Nunez

Getting budgeting attention as a marketer

So how, as a marketer, do you differentiate yourself from the competition? The biggest way, for Sara, is to be aware of the shifting priorities in the companies you’re trying to sell to. If you can solve problems that competing sellers aren’t aware of yet, you’re ahead of the curve.

Imagine an automobile company that’s looking to expand into motorcycle production. If you, as the seller, knew about this expansion before any other competing seller, you’d be able to position yourself to sell solutions as soon as the official news dropped.

“In order for you to really call attention for the leaders, and to have an opportunity, you’ve got to become an insider, you’ve got to become a person who knows a lot of what’s going on in my business.” — Sara Nunez

A more fluid approach

A concern to be aware of with the new fluid structure is how projects or products exist within it. Before, if your project was written in as a line item of the budget, you could breathe a sigh of relief. Now, while you don’t have to worry about making the cutoff date to the fiscal year, you do have to worry about your case having a higher risk of being removed from the budget.

Sara’s advice is to partner with the companies you’re selling to rather than fall back on the traditional buyer-seller relationship. If you act as partners, removing a fruitless project or product from the budget is advantageous to both parties. If the return on the investment isn’t there, it won’t benefit the buyer or seller. Cut the project or product quickly as the seller and work with the business to find the best solution.

Don’t fight it; go with the flow and really find the best opportunity to meet the customer needs,” Sara suggests.

Loyalty is more important than sales

Beyond the investment return to both parties, there’s another, more important reason to act as a partner to a company: loyalty.

Often, there may be quite a few sellers who present a very similar solution to a company. The best way to stand out is to have a history with the company. If a company has two sellers with the same solution, but they only have trust with one, they’ll go with that one every time.

”I will encourage everyone to think about a different way of doing things because we are in a different era. And we have to be challenged to do things differently, to always support or to always drive that customer satisfaction that we’re looking for.” — Sara Nunez