Where is ROI Best Applied in the Sales Process?


On average, 76% of deals are now won or lost early in the decision making process – going to the solution provider who helps your Prospect uncover and prioritize the issue and set the buying agenda, while only 24% are won / lost during the later competitive bake-off phase.

This was presented at the latest Forrester Sales Enablement Forum, and is a marked increase from the 65/35% split of just two years ago.

At the same time it has become more important to engage and justify your solutions much earlier, your Sales team is being invited later and later into the decision making process – after some 60% of the cycle has already been complete.

ROI and financial justification have traditionally been used in later phases, to create the business case for economic-buyer / CFO approval.  However, savvy vendors are now leveraging financial justification much earlier, to engage more proactively, provocatively and with compelling insight earlier, especially helping the Prospect uncover hidden opportunities and quantify the “cost of doing nothing”.

Financial justification (the rational), combined with value storytelling (the emotional connection) can be best used to help Buyers answer the following key questions successively in the decision cycle:
  • Why Change? – Quantify the Pain
  • Why Now? – Justify the Gain
  • Why You? – Prove Your Not the Same

Quantify the Pain
Too often, your sales professionals dive into the value of your proposed solution before the Prospect even understands that they have an issue worth addressing. This is putting the cart before the horse, and part of the reason why sales is invited later into decision cycles – because they sell before they deliver consultative insights and advice.

Early in the decision making cycle, it is important to help your Prospect confirm that issues they have are costing them, and even more important, helping them uncover issues that they might not have been aware of.

To make the issue come to life, the pain can be quantified, tallying the “Cost of Do Nothing”. This can be accomplished by tallying the productivity losses of sub-optimal processes, high cost of ownership of legacy systems, overspending on avoidable costs, high risks and the likelihood or realized impacts (fines, losses) and potential missed revenue opportunities.

Recommended Sales Tools
  • Interactive White Papers and Benefits Estimators– evolving from traditional white papers to deliver a more personalized door-opener or leave-behind that includes personalized quantification as to the “cost of do nothing”, value of change, and more targeted value messaging and case studies.
  • ValueStory – providing the value storytelling and “back of the napkin” diagnostic assessments and “cost of doing nothing” calculations to help the buyer uncover issues and prioritize action.

Justify the Gain
Once the Prospect knows they have an issue that is worthy of attention, they must then prioritize the solving of the issue versus all the other priorities on their plate. And in this “Do More with Less” economy, there are many priorities to address.

It is important at this stage to deliver:
  • Peer Comparisons - Helping the Prospect understand how their issues benchmark versus the competition, and how their current capabilities might be lagging and putting them at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Financial Justification – Providing the Prospect with financial metrics which show how this proposed solution’s benefits, ROI, payback, Net Present Value  (NPV) savings, Internal Rate of Return and investment risks compare to other projects, all competing for precious resources and budget.
Recommended Sales Tools
  • ValueStory – providing the value storytelling, diagnostic assessments and peer benchmarks and benefits calculations to help prioritize the issue and proposed solutions over competing opportunities and projects.
  •  ROI Analysis Tools – delivering the financial justification to prioritize your solutions’ value and cost-benefits analysis versus other competing projects.

Prove Your Not the Same
Hopefully you have been able to help set the buying agenda, framing the issues and solution towards your unique differentiators, but regardless, you are often not alone in the later stages of a deal.

At the final stages of the purchase decision, you have to help Prospects understand how your solution will:
  • Deliver incremental value   - with more potential savings, greater business benefits and lower investment risks.
  • Result in lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – with not just a lower purchase price (a typical focus at this stage of the decision), but lower costs to manage and support the solution over its entire lifecycle.
Recommended Sales Tools
  • TCO Comparison Tools – comparing your solution versus competitors head-to-head to demonstrate lower costs to own, and superior incremental value.


The Bottom Line

Not just useful in later stages of the sales cycle, financial justification is now crucial throughout the decision making cycle to help Quantify the Pain, Justify the Gain and Prove Your Not the Same.

Several sales tools are available to help make the justification easier, leveraging automation, benchmarks, data-driven analytics and visualization, including Interactive White Papers, Benefits Estimators, ValueStory and ROI / TCO Analysis Tools.

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