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“Show me the money, Jerry”
Those are the words from a classic movie scene in the film Jerry Maguire (see the video at the end of this post). It’s also a great phrase to keep in mind when selling to senior executives that will sign off on your deal.
I saw an example of this recently in my own buying environment.
Two software firms approached me with a product in the same space. Luckily for them it was a space where we were actively looking. Since we were interested in finding a solution in this space, I took an initial meeting with both firms.
As a buyer, I knew that my decision maker (in my case our CEO) was not going to buy anything in this space unless there was a clear ROI. To him, it did not matter how well the technology worked, how many platforms it work on or how great the user experience. What mattered was the money.
What he was really looking for was the statement “This will cost you $y and you will make $y times 3 in revenue for that investment”. The “show me the money” statement.
The first firm started their web meeting with slides about their firm. When it was established, how big they are, who they work with.
Because I’ve been on the sales person’s side of the table so often and because I write about this stuff, I often can’t help myself but to gently coach sales people when I think they are off track.
So I said to this salesperson “You know this is great but I’m thinking about my CEO and how I have to sell any solution in this space to him. What I really need to see is the ROI on your solution”. But this salesperson seemed not to hear me. She just carried on through her slides. Her next slides showed her product. And there were a lot of these slides!
I’m not really sure what the next dozen, or so, slides showed as all I was thinking was “show me the money” so I can show the money to my CEO–otherwise this is going nowhere.
I started to wonder if this firm’s product had any track record of showing ROI. Anyway I thought I’d try again “can we skip ahead and talk about the ROI and financial results your product has achieved for others like us?”
Nope. No luck. This seller just carried on through the many features of her product. Luckily this was a web meeting so I started checking my email.
When the seller finally finished her allotted time. She said “any questions?” I said yes “I really need to see examples of the ROI your product has caused for companies like ours” She said “Oh yes, I will get back to you on that.”
I felt a little bad for her. She probably did not have that information to hand. Maybe her marketing department had not created such ROI examples for her. (Tip: if marketing does not give you what you need to sell effectively, create it yourself. You will get paid back many times in your commission check for the time you spend creating this stuff.)
Second meeting. The second company started by presenting some case studies of their product. I thought “OK, not bad at least they are not showing me features”. They were just about to launch into a demo using one of their example cases when I said “What I really need to see is the ROI on your solution. I’ll need that if I’m going to present this to my CEO”
Critical point #1: they listened! Critical point #2: they had that information available.
We jumped straight into “well with client #1 they made $y by selling x units of their product based on our offering and each unit cost them $z to make. So you can see they made $p in profit.”
Then we discussed my assumptions for how these figures would pan out in our case. “I don’t think we can sell as many units as your example company but even if we sell only half the number they did we would still do better than break even”. “Hmm that doesn’t sound too risky. I think my CEO would be interested.”
This meeting was actually quite quick but I walked away with 3 case studies showing what this vendor’s software could do in financial terms.
Then I sent my CEO an email. The email went something like this:
“I just met with this firm that has a solution in xyz space. You know we’ve been looking for such a solution.
They showed me 3 cases.
In case 1, a company like ours, made $y by selling x units based on this product and each unit cost them $z to make. So you can see they made $p in profit
In case 2, a company like ours, made $y by selling x units based on this product and each unit cost them $z to make. So you can see they made $p in profit
In case 3, a company like ours, made $y by selling x units based on this product and each unit cost them $z to make. So you can see they made $p in profit
Let me know if you would like to meet with them.”
Guess what? He did. In fact it was an easy decision. “So they made $p profit based on $y revenue by selling x units each unit cost them $z to make. Sounds interesting. Yes, let’s meet with them.”
So company #2 advanced the sale. They showed us the money.
When you’re selling keep in mind that most decision makers (the ones that actually sign your contract and check) care about financials. They don’t care about features and functions. They often don’t even care about operational metrics (“this will let us service 14% more customers”). No in the end if they are senior enough, what they care about are $’s.
Speak their language. Translate what your stuff does into $’s, i.e. “show them the money”
In case you need a little pick me up, you should play the 90 second video clip below from the movie Jerry Maguire. It’s hard not to smile or laugh while watching it.