There was a time, perhaps, when a glowing smile, a handshake, and a swipe of the pen was all it took to renew a year of sales to a valuable buyer.
For the rest of us who are not stuck on quaint memories – but instead, need to make deals in today’s less collegial and more value-seeking environment – it’s time to anoint return-on-investment (ROI) as the rightful heir to the deal-making throne.
If you or your sales professionals can’t deliver a clear and coherent case on the ROI of your offering, you’ll likely find yourself tucking dreams of the past – and not commission dollars – under your pillow.
But more than just money is at stake if you cannot elevate the ROI of your solution to your buyer. With COVID having some sort of impact on virtually any buyers’ bottom line, you may not even get an appointment if you can’t quickly articulate the value you can offer, and the benefits of adopting your product or service.
A recent study underscores the need for a coherent ROI discussion right now: 55 percent of B2B buyers have cut their budgets for the balance of 2020, and 47 percent have halted all engagements with new vendors – with 37 percent of those waiting until at least the 2nd quarter of 2021.
With this in mind, we at The Brooks Group have assembled the pitfalls to avoid when attempting to elevate your solution to your buyer. Think of these as immediate dead ends – conversation killers – that can hermetically seal the door of opportunity between buyer and seller.
1. One size does NOT fit all
If you fail to do your homework, and do not understand what forces and factors are affecting your buyer at this very moment, you’ll end up delivering a generic message that may miss the mark. Take the time to understand what will resonate with the company, and in particular, with the people that you will be speaking to. For example, if the CEO will be present (a more regular occurrence these days that we documented in this blog), leave the tactical conversation at home and focus on the strategic objectives they have in mind for their business.
2. Don’t be a “space invader”
In our new virtual selling reality, one huge change is that you are bringing your sales pitch into your buyers’ home. The lines have been blurred between the personal and professional environment, and this has had an interesting and not unexpected side effect: As a seller, you run the risk of being seen as an intruder if you dare to bring nothing of value to a conversation that originates in their home. This puts a premium on messaging that must be focused, customized, and sensical.
3. Assuming the worst
COVID has not been a crusher to every business – in fact, many companies are experiencing a once-in-a-generation lift thanks to increased demand for their relevant product or service. Thus, do not assume that everyone is having the same struggles. For instance, a buyer who provides packaging for online retailers like Amazon is going crazy right now – for entirely different reasons. Make sure you are as prepared to discuss how your offering helps to address the challenges of success as you would be to talk about how it can help a business at a negative inflection point.
4. Avoid yesterday’s leftovers
In much the same way that you should be focusing your discussion on the current-state benefits of your offering, don’t leave the crystal ball at home. Customers are craving insights to help offset the current uncertainties – how you can help them innovate, and thrive, in the new normal. Make sure you can connect your message, not just to today’s value, but to tomorrow’s opportunities – how you can increase efficiency, support strategic initiatives, or bring clarity to the murkiness that exists in today’s world.
5. Your competition – might be nothing
If you think your ROI case is rock solid when considering the competition, you’ll be surprised to learn that in today’s budget-tight world, YOU may also be your own competition. If your offering is not mission-critical or something that has immediate utility to your client, they may choose the status quo, and simply do nothing. So, your value proposition must include a discussion about timeliness – why your buyer should make a change, and why they should do it NOW.