What if ROI (Return on Investment) and similar indicators of value are only smokescreens to protect the buyer from harm if things don’t work out? Afterall, decisions don’t demand a demonstrable ROI. Here are examples:
What’s the ROI on your cell phone? Your computer? The mahogany desks in the c-suite? The offsite meeting to develop a strategy that doesn’t get executed?
What about the 10 person-hours of discussion over whether to spend $1,000? It happens…in the interest of “fiscal responsibility.”
How about common corporate travel policies that force a $200 cheaper flight for a 4 hour-longer trip that takes on additional risk of missed connections or a $100 cheaper hotel room outside city limits that puts the sales person in an hour of extra traffic to get to the downtown client meeting?
In the Agile and Scrum worlds, releasing a product too soon brings “technical debt” that normally has an interest rate that makes predatory lending look like a great alternative. Ask Boeing about the 737 MAX.
If it were as simple as making logical decisions based on good faith financial analyses, imagine what the world would look like.
People buy emotionally and then justify intellectually.
“What’s the ROI on this widget/service you’re selling?” a prospect might ask. The salesperson – armed with marketing’s vetted data in a glossy presentation – enthusiastically exclaims 5X (or 5:1 or 500% or whatever the powerful economic case might be). Yet the order never comes – lost to no decision or a competitor.
My experience with ROI, NPV, value selling and other financial arguments is that it takes the intellectual off the table and lets us get to the emotional drivers of a decision. It sounds something like “Now that we agree this makes financial sense, what’s REALLY going on?”
You might even have to use the F word with your prospects. The F word is “feelings.”
So, it’s good form to have the rational part of the argument understood when a decision goes to committee.
Need help looking through the smoke to get to the hearts of the matter?