“Where would you invest if your budget doubled tomorrow?”

It’s a weird question to ask, especially in the face of a market downturn and uneasiness in the SaaS community.

But stay with me: it’s a useful thought experiment (and real-life exercise) for revenue leaders especially when you don’t have immediate plans to double anyone’s budget or 2x spend anywhere in your business.

Not just because it’s fun to think about all of the tech and tools we would buy or the hiring spree that we would go on if we got to dole out 2x the cash.

But because it’s helpful to clarify our thinking on our strategy.

Regardless of your company stage, budget always feels tight and finite.

  • We don’t have enough people to keep up with quota.
  • Our account management team’s books of customers are too big to make an impact
  • We need to hire connecting function roles like enablement or ops to make our sellers and account managers more efficient
  • We need more data, more tech, more systems to make our teams smarter and more efficient

A “doubled budget” exercise forces your team to clarify their thinking on strategy

Our team’s budget lists are always long. And always seem to be ready at a moment’s notice.

The surprising thing? If you could magically grant their wish, increase the budget, but make the number specific and ask them to do it tomorrow …. your leaders and budget requestors would likely freeze.

It’s like the dog chasing the car. We don’t know what to do with it once we catch a quick and specific budget break.

Although it could feel like a weird time to do so … ask your team what they’d do with a doubled budget.

Double the budget to clarify strategy

If you run this exercise as not just a “gotcha’ moment but as a real practice at your business, you’ll have a much better sense for which of your team members and leaders:

  • Has confidence in what works for their team
  • Can look at budget asks as end outcomes, and not just a wishlist of people and tools
  • Seriously considers tradeoffs between competing asks

Think about it. Your leaders want to double the number of BDRs to help strengthen their selling motion upmarket. They also want to buy and implement an ABM tool and need more staff to support customer onboarding.

Plus, they’d like to see new hires on the marketing team to support new segments, international expansion and to build more case studies for the team.

A doubled budget tomorrow forces me to choose the short-term and long-term winners between these initiatives.

Having to prioritize more (or less) access to cash makes a leader prioritize the asks that are going to:

  • Pay off most directly to the business needs
  • Have a clear outcome, for the business and the teams that benefit from the initiative
  • Lay the foundation for the next play, solve a large operational problem or plug a hole that’s holding your business back
  • Weigh tradeoffs and dependencies properly, so that budget asks don’t beget more budget asks in a never-ending cycle.

Why the exercise makes sense right now

It may seem counterintuitive, in the face of a pretty uncertain an uneven market, some sense of tightening investment funds and LinkedIn feeds filled with news of RIFs and hiring pauses.

But looking at where you’d double your budget – not cut it – is the way to get true clarity on what works and what doesn’t. Whether we should actually spend more (time or resources) or not.

We as humans are risk and loss averse. Ask us to cut our resources in half, and we’ll naturally choose the things that cause the least amount of disruption. The ones that’ll go the least noticed or feel the least painful in the short-term.

But some of the most notable businesses, like Mailchimp and Slack, have grown in down and upended markets:

And it wasn’t because they spent more. Although some did. It was because they had clear strategies, bold bets and knew what big things would lead to success. 

Asking “what would you do with a doubled budget” will also answer “if we’re going to cut or pause, what can’t be on the table?”

Smart leaders are doing the same now.

They’re asking their teams:

  • What’s our clearest path to success? Where should we invest more?
  • What are we doing now that isn’t paying off? Do we fix, optimize or cut?
  • Do our teams know what our big bets are? Is that where they’re spending their time? 
  • What can we change – process, plays or people’s areas of focus – that helps us do more of what’s working?

So, run this exercise.

Ask your leaders to look ahead to the next month, quarter or planning cycle. Give them a doubled budget and help them commit to the things that’ll actually pay off.

It’ll help you start the right work, stop the waste and continue the strategies that pay off, regardless of budget size.

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Sales Assembly can help your business scale better, faster, and smarter. Contact us today to find out how we can help your SaaS business grow quicker and more profitably.