Sales teams need to focus on selling value. You’ve taught your reps and drilled them with training, but many assets still focus on the features and functions of your product, and too many deals come down to focusing on price. Your Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study can help shift conversations toward value earlier in the sales cycle.
The first thing you probably noticed about your TEI study is the ROI statistic. It’s a compelling number because it quantifies the return your customers could realize by investing in your solution. Marketing, sales, and customers alike love an ROI, especially if that ROI is higher than your closest competitor.
While the ROI number is a quick metric to share in marketing and sales collateral, it doesn’t capture the complete value of investing in your solution.
Companies that get the most value from their TEI studies shift away from exclusively focusing on the ROI and embrace the broader value story. Yes, the TEI study can be daunting for reps who wonder it it’s worth their time to internalize. Studies are usually more than 20 pages long, often read like a textbook, and have a lot of numbers. While a single ROI-figure headline is an easy way to summarize months of research into a single takeaway, I’d like to challenge you to help your reps look beyond the ROI and capitalize on the nuance explored throughout the document. Here are some methods that other companies have used to embrace the broader value story and focus less on a single ROI value.
1. Understand And Tailor The Financial Frameworks
Let’s hit the hardest part of the study first: the math. Beyond that ROI number (which is an output of the math), there is significant value in using the financial frameworks to:
- Identify the categories where prospects might realize benefits. Your salespeople should actively dig into and understand the financial frameworks: What is the baseline, how is it changing, how much is it changing, and why is it changing? The calculations are as transparent as possible and typically basic algebra. They can leverage the benefit categories and the customer testimonies that informed the categories to tailor conversations to align prospects with actual customer experiences and financial outcomes.
- Give prospects a template to help them build their own business case. The TEI study is so lengthy because it includes the line-by-line calculations for each cost and benefit category. Your salespeople can use the financial frameworks as a cheat sheet for helping prospects build their own business case. Simply replace the prospects’ customer information anywhere labeled “composite.” This usually includes easy-to-access figures such as revenue, employee count, and salaries. If your organization purchased our sales-enablement or lead-generation TEI calculator, you could input the customer’s data directly in that to get a better estimate of their benefits.
These days, for decision-makers to approve most (if not all) technology purchases, they require a compelling business case. The TEI study gives your reps a third-party structure for discussing and outlining a business case in the early stages of your sales cycle. It’s essential that your sales teams understand the financial framework and how to tailor the math inputs, as this will ultimately help prospects communicate those benefits and business impact to the decision-makers in their organization, moving them through the purchasing journey and over the business-case hurdle.
2. Hype Up Those Unquantified Benefits
There are things in this world that can’t be assigned a number … the joy in a child’s laugh, the cuddles of a puppy, and the impact of a technology on a company’s culture. Just because it doesn’t necessarily hit the bottom line of your P&L doesn’t mean it’s not a compelling part of a business case. By focusing on the ROI alone, you might lose sight of the cultural impacts discussed in the “Unquantified Benefits” section. Use the Unquantified Benefits section to:
- Explore niche or vertical-specific use cases. A typical TEI study includes interviews with four customers and then quantifies the shared business benefits. Customers sometimes share use cases that fall outside the norm and that are interesting enough to talk about qualitatively but not shared widely enough to quantify. Similarly, certain verticals might use your technology in a special way — again, worth discussing but not necessarily included in the ROI calculation.
- Start discussion of abstract business benefits. While it’s possible to measure the impact on company culture, or employee happiness, or the reduction of risk of events that haven’t happened, to do so would require extensive scientific measurement, controlled environments, and would likely rely heavily on assumptions. Since the TEI study reflects the real, measurable impact of a technology investment, we do not quantify (for the ROI calculation) any benefits that the customers themselves have not measured. Nevertheless, it’s important to consider the abstract, and that’s why we have the Unquantified Benefits section.
- Consider how technology investment may impact relationships. The ripple effect of a technology investment can be felt beyond the investing company’s P&L. We often write unquantified benefits that highlight the downstream impact — on suppliers, on end customers, on business partners. These experiences are outcomes of the technology investment, even if they don’t necessarily impact the ROI. Your prospects will probably want to know if they can anticipate improved relationships with their supply chain or if the technology has a sustainability component.
Given the relatively small population included in a TEI, the odds that a prospect will relate to these niche use cases or care about the ripple effect of the investment are high. So learn, live, love these unquantified benefits, and hype them up with your prospects.
3. Lean In To The Flexibility
I promise that this does not require you to be a yogi or to stand on your head. In the TEI study, methodology flexibility is defined as the ability to do something better, faster, and cheaper in the future as a result of a technology investment today. Or as we like to explain to clients, flexibility is the strategic impact of an investment or a glimpse at future benefits. Like the Unquantified Benefits section, these concepts are not included in the ROI calculation because they haven’t yet been realized. These are future imperatives, road-mapped plans, or further technology investments that might be sparked by the current technology investment. A good example of this is companies that invested in Zoom before the pandemic for internal meetings. While the investment was for internal calls, they had the flexibility to shift to customer calls if they needed to. Any way you look at it, this is worth discussing with your prospect. Get prospects excited about the potential that accompanies the product.
4. Let The Customer Quotes Be Your Champions
I don’t know the last time that I went to a restaurant without checking Yelp or purchased something online without checking the customer reviews. Forrester’s research shows that technology buyers and decision-makers act the same way in their work and personal lives. Buyers like to know what their peers have experienced, what they are saying, and how they’ve reviewed the product. Thank goodness that the TEI is built to help your salespeople meet these needs. Throughout the document, you’ll find an abundance of quotes directly from the customers who were interviewed for the study. Let these customer quotes tell the story, share the results, and be the champion for your product. These firsthand accounts may be even more powerful than the ROI figure.
Get more out of your study by using the whole story and embracing the nuance of the TEI.