If you caught my recent article What Is an ROI Calculator, you know that online calculators are powerful marketing tools.

If you haven’t read that, go check it out. I’ll wait.

So you know that an ROI (return on investment) calculator improves the customer experience with 100% user-driven content.

What you might not know is that an ROI calculator can actually boost your sales in three ways.

1. Help Customers Calculate the Value of Your Solution

Your customers do a lot of research before they reach out to you.

Current statistics make that pretty clear:

  • Forrester’s survey participants revealed that they do more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
  • CEB found that the average B2B buyer is 57% through the purchase decision before engaging a sales rep.
  • Acquity Group discovered that 94% of B2B buyers say they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.
  • Acquity Group also reported that 83% of buyers look for information on supplier websites.

What do those numbers mean to you?

It means that if you can provide information to your customers that proves the value of your solution, you are doing a large part of the sales job before the customer even needs to interact with your company.

Customers are selling themselves on your solution.

There’s no better way to prove the value of your solution than an ROI calculator.

With it, your customer can calculate their return should they invest in purchasing your solution. They input their information, and your ROI calculator presents them with their potential results, right there on your website.

ROI is increasingly important to marketing departments and B2B buyers. In fact, Leapfrog’s 2015 study found that the need for marketing budgets to deliver measurable KPIs continues to grow, and businesses are more often requiring external partners to be aligned with their financial goals. HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 report found that demonstrating ROI is the #1 challenge marketers face.

An ROI calculator instantly puts a dollar value on the worth of your product or service. This improves trust and transparency right from the beginning.

Here’s a simple one from HubSpot:

2. Be the Helpful Expert – Not the Salesperson

What pops into your mind when you hear the term “salesperson?”

Plaid jacket?

Used cars?

Pushy and manipulative conversation tactics?

That’s how your customers feel about the traditional sales process, too.

Who said that being traditional was the best way to make sales, though?

The market has changed. The economy has become digitized. People’s buying habits have transformed because of this.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to transform your sales tactics, too.

According to HubSpot’s report, today inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing. Inbound content continues to be more important than outbound marketing efforts to companies of all sizes, though it remains dramatically more important to companies with fewer than 200 employees.

Your customers have access to a lot of information about your company and your solution. They also have access to information about your competitors’ solutions. In fact, they likely have access to just as much information as you do. Which means that they’ve already begun comparing and contrasting your solution with your competitor’s when you first talk to them.

Information is no longer your ace in the hole.

Discounts and deals turn the sales conversation into a race to the bottom (and your solution into a commodity).

What’s the biggest benefit you could give a customer for talking to you? What’s the best way to build a positive relationship with your customer right out of the gate?

Share your knowledge and expertise. Be a helpful expert. Help the customer make the right decision for them, even if that means they buy from someone else.

That may sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out.

Sales today is a long game. According to a study by sales expert Steve W. Martin, 24% of inside sales cycles and 23% of outside sales cycles are between 61 and 90 days in length.

Long-term success means building long-term relationships. Customer loyalty is the currency of the kingdom, because loyal customers become advocates.

They share your company with their friends, family and colleagues. That social proof is more valuable than a Super Bowl ad spot.

What does this have to do with ROI calculators? Everything!

An ROI calculator paints your company as a helpful expert. You’re giving the customer valuable information without asking for anything in return. When that calculator helps the customer make an educated decision, they share it with others.

Voila. You are no longer a pushy salesperson. You are a helpful resource.

3. Collect Rich Profile Data to Boost Your Sales and Marketing Intelligence

An ROI calculator gives your customers valuable information without asking for anything in return … but that doesn’t actually mean you don’t get anything in return.

The data your customers are inputting into the calculator can be collected and analyzed to provide deep insights into your customers’ wants and needs.

You can use that insight to create more detailed buyer personas, so your sales team can build better relationships with your customers.

Here’s an example from American Express.

Note the details such as major purchases and benefits leveraged. This information helps sales and customer service representatives understand how to address his main concern: Are these travel benefits really that valuable to me?

Insight gathered from ROI calculators can also help you build more intelligent marketing campaigns – campaigns driven by actual customer data. No more throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. You can make educated decisions.

The ROI of an Interactive Calculator

If you’ve ever used an online calculator to find out what your monthly payments will be for the car of your dreams, or figure out how much house you can afford, you already know how easy and valuable this type of content is.

ROI calculators take the value of an online calculator up a notch. They not only help your customer figure out what your solution will cost them, but also what your solution will give them in terms of actual dollar values.

Now you’re not just another company out for a buck. There’s a concrete financial reason to do business with you.