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Rethinking ROI

by David Brock on June 26th, 2022

One of the fundamentals in any kind of solution or value based selling is the ROI produced by the solution. Sadly, too few sales people even understand this, competing on cost and price, leaving the customer to determine the business case and the ROI of implementing a solution themselves. And they must do this, both to get approval to move forward, as well as to evaluate alternatives.

Over time, we have developed a much richer perspective of ROI, looking at things like opportunity costs, consequences of not changing or doing something wrong, and the less quantitative aspects of decision confidence, uncertainty, indecision. Again, too few sales people understand this, failing to help the customer feel good/confident about the decision.

But all of these focus on the outcomes produced by the decision a customer makes.

But there’s another perspective about ROI. Let’s think of it as ROI in the moment or real time. Stated differently, the customer, individually or as a buying group, constantly assesses, “Is this worth my/our time.” They think, what’s the ROI of the time I will be spending on this issue, with these people.

They worry about: “Are they doing the right things, are they considering the right issues, are they developing a deeper understanding of the problem/risks/alternative solutions, are they gaining confidence as they go through their buying/problem solving process.”

Like the first approach to ROI–the outcomes produced by implementing the decision, sales people aren’t very helpful in working with the customer on this type of ROI. They tend to focus on their own goals and what they want to achieve, getting the order. Too many sales people focus on their product, company, and how great they are. They may try to understand customer needs and buying process/team, but they limit this discovery to how/who they present and position their products and, “why you should select us.”

The customer constantly assesses the ROI of these interactions. Does it produce the best return on their investment in time? Increasingly, they are making other choices. They may choose not to engage, because they don’t see the ROI when a sales person makes an outreach, or their past experience with these sales people. Increasingly, they have alternatives to learn, leveraging digital journeys as producing much greater ROI, or leveraging other channels/methods that are helpful and create the return they expect.

ROI is a constant issue for the customer. The ROI of the decision they make, the ROI of how they invest their time in making the decision.

The customer(s) constantly make assessments, “Is this the best use of my time, right now?” If we don’t enable the customer to answer their own question in the affirmative, for each interaction we have, then they will–and should–invest their time elsewhere.

What ROI are you creating in every interaction (human or digital) for your customers?

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