If It’s Such a Great Pitch, Why Don’t They Buy?

July 14, 2008

You’re asked to prove the ROI on your product for your customers. You come up with a model that demonstrates how much time is saved by your solution and then quantify that in dollars. Instant ROI! Provable, not just marketing mumbo-jumbo! You love it. The executive team loves it. Sales wants an Excel sheet so they can ‘prove the value’ to their prospects. Great work!

Except for one thing. The customers don’t care. Yes, they ask for proof of ROI. Yes, they listen politely when walked through the third-grade math. But they don’t care. And this time-saving pitch doesn’t make them buy. If you gain their trust, they’ll tell you so. Why?

When the vacuum cleaner was introduced it was supposed to save time – a clean floor in minutes instead of hours of sweeping and scrubbing. How much time was saved? According to Digital History, none. As cleaning got more efficient, standards were raised. Houses became much cleaner. And the average full-time homemaker continued to work 50-60 hours per week, the same as before the invention of the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine.

This isn’t just about vacuum cleaners. Think about email. Fast, frictionless communication. It should save the average office worker many hours of phone calls, opening mail, licking stamps, etc. Unfortunately, we spend that saved time weeding through hundreds of emails. Another example: is it easier to connect with people now that you have a cell phone? Sure. Does that give you time back? No, because you have exponentially more telephone calls than you did before.

If you’re asked to prove ROI and want something senior management will love, do the time-saving pitch. You’ll get a gold star.

To produce a pitch your customers will love, start by asking them what ROI is. It’s selling more, it’s making more money, it’s almost always about the revenue line. Time-saving is about the expense line…nice, but not as compelling. And the time-saving pitch sounds fishy to anyone who has a vacuum cleaner or email.

As long as your customers aren’t familiar with those technologies, you’re good to go. If you’re unlucky enough to sell into a market where vacuum cleaners and email are commonplace, consider another approach to proving ROI. Like maybe getting your best customers to talk about what ROI is to them and how your product provides it in credible, well sourced testimonials.

Nifty Daylight Savings Time watch photo (notice the two hour hands?) by Petoo

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