It’s not just the ROI that Drives the Buy!


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You may think arming yourself with facts and data will help you convert prospects into customers, but it’s more important that prospects believe you truly understand their business, the industry, the company, the LOB’s and the Individuals within the organization. This issue comes up time and time again in our interviews with clients, they want their solution provider to understand their business.

This is hardly surprising, since you can’t add value without having a clear picture of the business and the client’s position in the industry. Once you understand their business you can better understand the core business issue. The three critical components that drive the sale:

  1. Demonstrating that you truly understand what their business issue is, and how it negatively impacts the company’s performance (current state)
  2. Knowing what their desired outcome will be, and how that will improve their overall success (future state)
  3. Knowing the prospects “measurements for success” (not yours)

Understanding and clearly articulating these three key decision criteria with your prospect enables the “why buy”. The ROI is strictly “how” they will buy your solution, which is the “what” they will buy.

People buy based on emotion and justify with fact. You may resist this statement. You may want to shout – but the truth (truth that will help your business grow) is – your client rationalizes the purchase base on facts (ROI), but they make decisions based on emotion or feelings (can you eliminate my business problem and meet my measurement for success?).

The single biggest motivator in buying is not data, nor is it facts; it’s emotional response. Humans buy when they feel comfortable, when they feel they can trust you, when the process feels natural and reassuring, and when they come to believe that buying will make them feel good.

To succeed in selling, you’ve got to speak to the need your customer feels. There are a lot of good reasons, not to mention the entire history of successful selling, to back this up. As you can see from the DDI (Development Dimensions International) study below, ROI analysis is dead last in terms of what the client is looking for. In part, this is true because the ROI analysis is almost always slanted to the supplier’s point of view.

Source: DDI (Development Dimensions International)


Of course, people have both logical and emotional buying motives. Some recent consumer surveys show that 20 percent of the decision to make a purchase is logical and 80 percent is emotional. What is logic? It’s reason supported by facts. What is emotion? It is a feeling that leads us to act and react.

So, what is more important when persuading people – facts or emotion? We don’t mean to imply that customers never want cold, hard facts. Of course they do. You should always have them prepared and available, and you should present them when the time is right. But it is not facts that convince customers to go with your company. It’s emotion – do I feel you can you solve my problem?

Customers need to feel that you really understand their business issue and how it is negatively impacting their organization. They also need to feel that you will deliver their desired outcome and that you will meet their measurement for success. That measurement may not be the traditional business case ROI but rather what they have established as success. They will then use the ROI facts to “pay for” or rationalize purchasing the solution.

… But it is the ROI that Closes

While clients should be emotionally vested in you to consider the purchase decision, your client advocates still need to show that the return is worth the investment, otherwise you will not close. This is especially true if the contemplated investment of time, money and resources is significant. That is why customer knowledge is so critical – you cannot assist your client advocate in creating a compelling ROI without it!! And if you have the knowledge and can assist them in identifying their return so they can obtain the investment decision, you are a very valuable asset indeed … to them and to your own company!

Mladen Kresic
Mladen Kresic is President of K&R Negotiations, a team of professional negotiators who improve profitability by providing the negotiation training and tools necessary to Win Wisely™ at the sales negotiation table. He has served as lead negotiator for numerous acquisition and divestitures, strategic alliances, licensing and strategic sales deals. Mladen has negotiated, consulted and delivered programs on six continents and in over 40 countries around the world.


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