We all have days when the sales issues seem just too hard to conquer. The customer finds a cheaper alternative, you find a strong existing supplier relationship too hard to crack, there is a simple lack of budget, or like the majority of opportunities lost, there’s just ‘no decision’ made at all.

A principle that is often missed in the sales environment is the principle of Return on Investment (ROI). For some people this is just not on their radar, and yet it can provide a totally fresh approach to sales that is easy to grasp and can turn the old principles of a sales approach on its head.

The basic approach to ROI in sales is to focus on the benefits of your product, service or organisation and to match those benefits to the customer. Once you have matched the benefits to their needs, you need to be able to equate those benefits in some measurable value (the return). This is normally measured in dollars or time. The use of benefits isn’t new – but the translation of benefits into the tangible return to the customer (the next logical step) is often missed out.

What gives you added appeal is when these benefits are only available through your product, service or organisation. These then become ‘key benefits’ and if you can show they are essential to your customer, your job of ‘selling’ becomes much easier. In fact the customer is more likely to ‘buy’ rather than you having to ‘sell’.

Understanding how to relate the dollar benefits to actual savings or profit to the customer creates a sense of ‘real value’ to them. For example, if you can show your benefits will cover the cost of their building rent for a year or pay for their administration costs for six months, then you have shown them real, tangible value.

In the case of a well-known retail store in Auckland, the company accepted the vendor’s sales proposal on the spot when they were shown the additional profit they would make from an improvement in sales related to a sales training programme placed in front of them. The return was realised in the first month.

Most people will tell you that an ‘emotional’ purchase is what people buy on. And yes, that’s true. Getting the emotion to buy into the story, the ‘feel good’ component of the purchase is really powerful.

However, with some emotional purchases, buyer’s remorse becomes evident. However powerful the emotional purchase, a logical purchase where things make perfect sense and the buyer would be crazy not to go ahead creates a longer lasting ‘feel good’ factor.

Showing the customer that your product, service or organisation will save them money so that every day they delay it’s actually costing them, provides a strong argument that can turn the ‘no decisions’, the ‘existing supplier relationships’ and the ‘cheaper alternatives’ buyers all into a successful sale for you.

Learning the simple methodology around ROI in sales can give you that definitive edge in your role and can provide you with a fresh approach and renewed confidence in your products, services and organisation.

Derek Good is the director of Learning Planet.

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