It’s only natural for customers to be skeptical of a seller’s business case. It’s instinct. It’s their job. It also serves them well. Overcoming their skepticism requires much more than skilled objection handling. Build your defense early and protect your business case! Here are a few tips to Sharpen Your Edge:

1. Create Co-ownership: enlist the customer to participate in any way possible – in the business case design; collaboration on benefits, approach to quantifying them, and especially…

2. Assumptions: You absolutely, positively need customer input and agreement on assumptions.

3. Build cross-functional support early: most solutions have a primary area of impact and benefits, but related business processes, owned by different managers, may have direct or indirect benefits as well. Build support wherever you can.

4. Key Assumptions: Emphasize assumptions that are most important to the predicted results; ensure understanding and agreement.

5. Key Success Factors: Identify what must be done or not done, by you and by the customer, to bring about the predicted results. Not just in the business case but throughout the entire sales process. This builds credibility for you by acknowledging that success isn’t automatic and everyone has accountability.

6. Leverage Experience: demonstrate wherever you can that the approaches used in the business case are confirmed by experience.

7. More Co-ownership: if it fits, have a customer participate in the business case presentation.

Don’t forget that an executive’s attempts to shoot down your business case may even be a positive sign since they wouldn’t bother if they weren’t interested. All the more reason to prepare early and defend effectively!

Don’t lose your Edge – Good luck and good selling!