ROI is funny. If you have any francophone tendencies (not that this is a disease) you immediately think “king” and if you read too many management books then you know it means “return on investment”. One thing is certain Return on Investment is King.
Return on investment, rate of return, whatever you will, has infiltrated out from being a funky finance term with the type of nuts and bolts meaning which turn bankers on, to being a sloppy business term with the type of fluffiness which turns bloggers on.
If you are selling a service it’s difficult for a company to judge how valuable you are going to be in the long term after assuming you will be a cost in the short term. If you are selling stocks, or life insurance plans then you usually have some nifty numbers and percentages in a folder somewhere to whip out and impress the crap out of the client. But if you are selling advice to small businesses about how to communicate on the internet, or the benefits of Feng Shui in the office your numbers are going to be pretty fuzzy at best and harder to sell the idea of ROI.
So how does an honest hard-working comtemporary business convince potential clients they are going to have some cool ROI action going on if just given the chance? Here are three ideas.
1. Be accountable.
ROI is about accountability. Not your accountablilty but your clients. So do your homework and find out how you are going to be judged at the end of your products life in the comapany. Has it delivered what they thought it was going to? Has it delivered something different? Can we analyze together the progress objectively?
2. Be honest.
If your service is not going to give a real sense of return on the investment is it worth frying a contact for one contract? After a company sees the uselessness of a service they will only order it once. If the company sees you are being straight up and trying to help them they will keep a positive impression. Again do some homework know who does what in fields which are close to yours and you never know some business may swing back at you.
3. Be clear.
Don’t bamboozle the punters with dodgey numbers. People love to talk about their companies, so let them talk. Let the person explain to you what they are looking for and listen attentively. If you need to change what you were going to say, then change. Have a conversation and remember the first two points, you want to be as honest as possible to have an objective and valuable analysis of the service you are going to sell. If the person you are talking to feels this they will be much more prepared to cross the Rubicon because they feel reassured. You are adapting your product to their company.
A heightened idea of ROI will be one of the effects of the current financial crisis, even by companies who aren’t affected by the crisis at all. Continue to jump like frogs, one lilypad at a time and good luck.