ROI reigns supreme in the regional solutions domain

These are tough times for IT providers, but they needn’t be if you focus on providing customers with a clear and measurable return on their technology expenditure. Manjeet Singh, managing director at Microsoft specialist Columbus IT Middle East, argues the case for keeping ROI at the heart of your sales pitch.

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ROI reigns supreme in the regional solutions domain Manjeet Singh says success in the solutions space is all about managing the sales cycle.
By  Manjeet Singh Published  August 12, 2010

In solution sales, return on investment (ROI) still remains the king. When times are good, you have the luxury of doing things your own way and whatever you touch tends to turn to gold. Unfortunately, however, times can quickly change.

If you have heard any of the following lines in your sales meetings then you can be sure that the hangover from the good times is still not over:

- “They just won’t decide”

- “They want more for less”

- “They don’t have cash to pay”

- “It’s not a priority for them”

Like the Chinese say, ‘everything is an opportunity’ and we have a great opportunity on hand to be a little introspective. Why is it that some solution sales organisations enjoy steady growth, while others are subjected to the market volatility?

A possible answer lies in the way they manage the sales cycle. A lot of channel partners have developed bad habits over the last few years and they look for a short-cut in the sales cycle. We see these partners in the market constantly because these are the companies complaining about the poor market conditions.

On the other hand, the ones that have stuck to the basics and can show and prove a return on investment to their clients are never short of business.

Five tips for success

Going back to basics and spending quality time working the ROI is a sure-fire way of winning business in today’s market. It goes without saying that clients won’t follow the ‘me too’ approach anymore. If the investment is significant, the decision-maker will sign only when the returns are clearly defined.

ROI can actually be very simple and versatile. Here are my five easy steps for ROI dummies:

1. Get to the pain areas of your prospect and get their agreement on the issues.

2. Translate everything into numbers. This could mean the cost of duplicated effort, the cost of delayed decisions, the cost of stock outs or the cost of doubtful debt, for example.

3. Address the pain with the new process, tools, automation or best practice and quantify the customer benefits.

4. Get the right audience and talk ROI numbers. There might be ROI calculators built by your principals that you can use. If not, develop a simple macro version yourself.

5. Finally, pick your order (and hopefully the cheque!).

Results business

The bad habits of not doing the numbers will die hard, but there is no harm in giving it a try. The results might just astonish you and it is certainly going to differentiate you from many of your competitors.

There is a well-known saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the IT solutions business, an ROI number is worth a 100-page proposal.

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