Decisions find us at every turn. Some are quick and easy to navigate solo. Others are collaborative, well researched, and often costly. In my world, a few years back, this was the difference between choosing what socks to wear and deciding whether to pursue a college education.
As you can imagine, choosing whether to go to college was neither a quick nor individual journey. My family and friends were adamant that the investment would contribute value to my life and pay for itself over time.
College became the dinner table’s “hot topic.” Cue flashbacks to the flood of glossy college pamphlets, opinionated family members, and slightly different versions of the same admission essay. It was information overload for one expensive decision.
Today’s executives also pour over research to make decisions. It’s no small feat to determine which technology will best serve their organization. Vendors must stand ready to prove value to buyers. Yet according to Forrester’s recent Q2 2023 B2B Customer Engagement Value Realization Survey, only 31% of respondents said that they can successfully quantify how marketing, sales, services, product, and customer success deliver value to their customers.
So how can a business case solve the pain that the other 69% of respondents face? As a member of the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) practice, I work with Forrester clients to understand why investing in a business case is important to win and retain customers.
Here are six reasons why our clients — and your peers — opted to invest in a business case:
1. Prove Business Value To New Markets
One manufacturing software-as-a-service (SaaS) client shared that it engaged in a TEI to prove business value to an untapped group of buyers — the automotive industry — at an upcoming conference. By detailing a customer’s journey through a before-and-after story, a TEI provides tech marketers with a narrative to open conversation with new prospects and to challenge prospects to question: What’s the risk of not investing in your product — the risk of sticking to the status quo?
2. Unite Organizational Buying Groups
According to Forrester’s report, Using Buyer Insights To Align Campaign Resources With Business Objectives, 39% of purchase influencers said that their recent purchase decision process involved four or more buyers. A SaaS client recently explored a way to dive deeper into its existing customer accounts by understanding how its product could benefit entire organizations. This client commissioned a TEI refresh to expand the original use case, which illustrated the technology’s value for one siloed department. A TEI study recognizes that qualitative benefits complement quantitative benefits. For example, employee experience may be hard to quantify but may act as a stepping stone to realizing value cross-departmentally.
3. Strengthen Seller Negotiations
In addition to customer anecdotes and quotes, the TEI includes model table frameworks — a gem for sales teams. One media client illustrated how its sales team crafts custom proposals for prospects to help the buyer quantify the impact of the technology for their own organization. By walking through the benefits, the sales team reiterates value that impacts the client and their team’s day-to-day processes. This empowers sellers to start a relevant conversation with buyers, ultimately improving negotiations and avoiding the need to offer discounts immediately.
4. Offer Objective Content
In Forrester’s Q2 2023 Content Preference Survey, 86% of respondents, technology buying decision-makers at global enterprises, agree or strongly agree that they are more likely to trust a vendor’s thought leadership position and claims when backed by objective, third-party-authored content or data. Our clients echo the power of objectivity. In particular, a marketing SaaS client commissioned a TEI to highlight recent growth in its customer base upmarket with prospects and investors. A separate client shared in conversation that “this is not an asset our team would recreate.” A TEI’s narrative articulates the voice of customers — and customers alone.
5. Prioritize Timely Product Feedback
Writing a business case gives product teams the chance to stop, listen, and reflect on customer needs and expectations. One media client, which chose a niche use case for its TEI, admitted gaps in its customer insights for this audience. The client shared that the company’s commitment to the TEI was as much an opportunity to prove customer value as it was to digest product feedback. Is your product hiccuping where it shouldn’t be? Which key challenges do customers face that your team has not considered? What future use cases does the customer aim to achieve? While the TEI illustrates value for a customer’s current use, it also creates a jump start on brainstorming future value initiatives.
Just as the TEI defines flexibility (the strategic value that can be obtained in the future because of the initial investment) in its case study, I conclude with a reason that may not be as obvious as those above but that has the potential to unlock future value with buyers.
6. Mitigate Risk In Product Adoption
Many business cases include cost in their analysis. A TEI goes one step further to assess implementation and ongoing management. The analysis accounts for the labor involved in testing, deploying, and training product users. We talk with clients about explaining up front the costs of buying and using the product to both emphasize the effort that buyers put forth during deployment and to outline a realistic timeline for adoption.
Through our conversations with clients, we recognize that each tech vendor has unique marketing needs. The investment in a business case may be to focus efforts internally, to support sellers, or to offer product teams feedback, or, externally, to target new customer markets or expand organizational buying groups. Whatever your reason is, remember, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.