Is ROI the Best B2B Sales Tool?

Over the years, so many of us have used ROI, Return On Investment, as a sales strategy. But we rarely go back and get that endorphin rush of proving that ROI to our clients. It’s a strategic decision we make, at some point during the selling cycle, to measure and go after. 

It’s like that age old adage, “You can’t manage if you don’t measure.”

I sat down with John Cerqueira to unpack the ROI discussion that will help you, as sales reps, managers, or leaders, close more deals. More importantly, ROI discussions with your sales prospects and clients, throughout the selling cycle, will heighten your status as trusted advisor to their business. 

If you prefer to listen to our conversation about this topic on the go, feel free to check out sALES with ASLAN podcast episode 65:

 

ROI in the Sales Cycle

We’ll focus this discussion around sales training (online, virtual or in-person), but the concept is the same across industries. 

The beginning of the ROI conversation begins at the beginning of the interaction with your customer. The discussion is framed by the questions, “Why are you training?” and “When will you know that it worked?”  You can customize these questions whether you sell hardware, software, or services.

Prospects often come to us at ASLAN and say “I think I want what you offer.” You can get into the discussion about partnering together and wind up talking about the “what” (specific online sales training, courses, or workshops) and the “when” (timing of implementation). While these are all important and pertinent details, it’s important to stop and ask your prospect, “Why do you think your sales team/ organization needs sales training?”

There are a host of reasons that your customer may want to invest in your solution. For us, ASLAN customers are often looking to grow market share or increase revenue, by training their salespeople to improve their skills and effectively close deals. 

Depending on what you/ your sales reps/ your organization sells, there are different metrics that your customers will care about and want to measure: market share and revenue are common across industries. It’s important for sales reps to have that conversation with prospects, and for account managers to have with existing customers, about their goals and the metrics they want to focus on. 

How are they going to measure the effectiveness of your solution and the partnership?

 

How We Sell

Our process usually looks like this: align with senior leadership, build the program, roll it out to the sales managers, then deliver to the sales reps, and follow up by working with the managers again to ensure they can continue the reinforcement of the sales training with their teams. 

At the very beginning, when aligning with leadership, it’s vital to uncover and hone in on those key metrics that will matter to them throughout the sales relationship. Getting specific by taking it from “We want to sell more as a company,” to “We want to grow market share,” will help truly define the markers of success. 

Early on in the implementation process, customers already start to see behavior change, traction and anecdotal success. While it can be hard to quantify anecdotes, it’s great when we can see anecdotes turn into hard data. For example, a point of market share growth – that’s a “win” that has really moved the needle for your customer. 

When selling, if you can clearly understand and articulate your customer’s goals and show them the bridge to get there, it will make all the difference in being able to build value, advance the sale, and truly serve them in an OtherCenteredⓇ way. 

Learn more about our B2B sales training.

 

The Story Data Can Tell

What story does the data tell us? 

Obviously, this all starts with an upfront conversation that helps establish the value of your solution. We rely heavily on anecdotes, success stories, and so do our clients – but if you can outline these important metrics at the beginning of the sales process, your customers are more likely to want to put in the work, to dig into their internal data and find the proof of that ROI. 

How can we set the stage so our customer wants to participate in finding the data to prove ROI and provide it back to us?

 

1 – Connect with an organization at the executive level.

Projects can get lift-off from multiple levels within a company, but we’ve found that the most impactful results come to fruition when the executive leadership is involved, even if not intimately involved, but at least bought into the “why” behind their investment in your solution. Maintaining access to the executive level, or getting their involvement throughout the process, will also help get those key metric results provided to you. 

 

2 – Depending on the organization, and the leader/ point person who owns the project, they will want to measure those metrics and may give you access to those numbers. In doing so, it will enable you to help them even more, beyond the transaction itself. 

While the anecdotal evidence may be great, how did the project actually land? Looking back at those results will help you serve your customer even further. 

Is the data telling the story we want and expect it to? When you have that insight from the data, you have two approaches, which are equally important:

If the data supports the goal and investment, keep going and help your customer with continued reinforcement. 

If not, what do we need to do to roll up our sleeves and remedy the problems?

The goal is to drive results for your client, not just take the sale and walk away regardless of the outcome. 

 

Again, the goal is to get results for your customers. By having insight into their data and metrics, you can better serve your customer in an OtherCenteredⓇ way. If the company is not getting the results from your solution that you both want, don’t wash your hands and give up – roll up your sleeves and figure out how to improve and adapt to get those results. 

The point is, if you don’t measure those metrics (goals), you won’t be able to recognize success or failure. It’s a critical mistake not to go back and get that insight from the data, just because you may be afraid of what the results say. 

Your solution should provide value to your customer, and if you’re truly an OtherCenteredⓇ salesperson, it’s up to you to make sure it does. 

 

How ROI Can Help You Secure Budget and Future Sales

There is a decision maker involved in every sale you make. If you don’t know who that is, your chances of winning are probably not very good. 

Oftentimes, when we sit down with a customer to discuss a budget for a project, we uncover that there really is no funding readily available. We’re up against “doing nothing,” paving the parking lot, the new benefits program, etc. You get the picture. If you can’t produce an ROI, you probably won’t get the budget to roll out your project. 

So this topic really is a key component of selling, not just as a strategy up front but also to go back and ensure that our customer gets their desired results and is confident in their decision to partner with us. 

Sales reps, you can also use this ROI data to keep selling. What can you do now that you’ve proven success with your client? How can this help you close future sales?

There are two key ways we’ll highlight here:

 

1 – For a new client with a similar profile, you can speak to their industry and how success is measured. You can give them anonymous, general information about how you have experience with their world and how you were able to drive results for a client just like them.

 

2 – It affects your mindset and gives you specific talking points throughout the sales process to establish your solutions’s credibility. 

 

When reaching out to a prospect, you can use your experience to craft an OCP (OtherCentered Position) that says something like, “Customers like you that are looking to solve _______ have found XYZ to be the problems, and here are some unique ways we can potentially help you…” 

Or with a deep dive into Discovery, you are able to navigate the process with them by showcasing how you’ve had great results in their specific space.

You have a very clear example and believable, quantifiable measures of success. 

 

ROI in Sales and Marketing

The relationship between sales and marketing is one of the most important within an organization. Case studies and ROI studies, based on information from a company’s client success stories, really bring sales and marketing together. 

When salespeople can bring tangible data back to the marketing team, to create solid case studies and tools for the sales team to convey messages to customers that prove the validity of their products/ solutions (and that they truly do help clients actually achieve observable ROI), the magic happens. Sales and marketing working together can really accomplish much more when working together. 

This is a critical takeaway for using ROI as a sales tool. You can read more about the key relationship between sales and marketing, and how selling really is a team sport on our blog. 

 

Summing it Up

Anything that can help sellers assist their clients in recognizing the success they’ve had, but also help sales and marketing convey that message to future clients seeking similar results, is a win-win. 

Achieving an ROI starts up front – in the very early conversations with a client. It begins with the question, “What does success look like if we engage in this project together?”

Managing and measuring throughout the process anecdotally and then at the “end” with going back to uncover the story that the data tells. 

It really is about being OtherCentered. Before you consider taking a customer’s money, stop and be clear on what they want to get out of their investment in your solution and their partnership with you. Asking them, “What does your desired future state look like?” and carrying that throughout the whole relationship will truly elevate you to the status of Trusted Partner for your customers. 

 

What Next?

As VP of Marketing at ASLAN Training & Development, Scott’s passion is to share our solution with those in need and those who seek sales transformation. Find him on: Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

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About ASLAN

The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.