Is selling an art or science? What about buying? I’m favoring art. That doesn’t mean you can’t codify and make elements of each process repeatable and measurable, but we’re dealing with human interactions and that throws a wrench in the works. As buyers we just don’t have the time to rationally assess and scrutinize every available option. And, sometimes we make illogical decisions. Even in the world of the consensus purchase, more primal, binary decision-making ‘rules of thumb’ or heuristics take over. Thankfully one of these is known as the estimation heuristic which is our innate ability to weigh the expected rate of return compared to the investment (in time, money, resource etc).

Quantifying value - comparing solution choices

It goes without saying that it is way too late in the process to throw in a generic ROI statement at the back of your proposal and hope this ‘neutralizes’ the procurement team. Although it’s quite alarming that the majority of client sales proposals we review have no value statements at all. So when the buyer is comparing offerings, price becomes a much greater factor.

So what makes a good value statement?

  1. Make sure the client cares – Don’t just focus on addressing the stated operational challenges. Work with the client through the sales process to uncover underlying causes and potentially identify unrecognized areas of business benefit. Prioritize and focus on the top 1-2 outcomes.
  2. Quantify it – ROI calculations centered around the results of implementing your product or solution are OK, but not as powerful as monetizing the impact of addressing the underlying business opportunity/problem. Or putting it another way, the cost of doing nothing. This is more likely to support a shift from the status quo (and the dreaded losing to no-decision).
  3. Picture it – Presenting potential business outcomes graphically has a much greater impact than just a table of numbers. Use charts, graphs and other pictorial representations.
  4. Link to your differentiators – Show how your company/solution uniquely supports and positively influences the primary business outcomes. Support with case studies and other evidence.

Customer centric communications