Q

How can I take advantage of year-end deals when I don't have the budget right now?

My favorite salesperson just called with the most amazing end-of-year blowout deal. But, given the timing, I simply don't have the budget to buy all that I want or even need for next year. How can I get this great deal when I have more money to spend?
This is a very common sales tactic – and can be seen at end-of-quarter, end-of-year and any other time where the salesperson has a deadline to meet. By design, the deals offered are so great that you simply do not want to pass them up. But be warned, the great deal is only great if it's exactly the thing that you truly need or want, and it's only great if you have the time to devote to a properly completed transaction. The so-called Half-Baked deals at the end of the year tend to visit you again and cost you well more than what you initially saved. But if you've been sitting in wait and now simply don't have the money, there are at least two things you can do to get the deal to follow your timeline. First, I have always tried to get the salesperson to explain why ONE SECOND (the clock tick from the last second of the offer period to the first second after the deal is gone) is the difference between the great deal and the standard deal. To date, I have never heard a satisfactory explanation, and I've usually been able to get the sales folks to agree to give me the same deal especially when they know that it's because I am waiting on a new budget. But if that tactic doesn't work, an alternative is suggested (usually by the salesperson) called a Letter of Intent (LOI). LOI's are, in most cases, very brief contracts to complete the transaction at a later date while locking in that great price. They can have the full effect of a contract if not carefully worded. So, while your organization may allow LOI's, always check with your legal department first.
This was first published in January 2005

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