Understanding the Numbers – A Guest Blog with David Brock

By David Brock

David Brock is the Author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide,” CEO of Partners in EXCELLENCE, and is a ruthless pragmatist. View David’s original post and read more of his work on his blog, Partners in EXCELLENCE, here.

When we talk about business, we quickly get to talking about the numbers–revenue, profit, EBITDA, EPS, growth, market cap, market share, customer retention, customer satisfaction, headcount, productivity, inventory, cash flow, assets, liabilities, and on and on. SaaS companies have invented their own versions of the numbers, including ARR, CLV, LTV, CAC, MRR, Churn, and so forth.

The numbers generally represent goals, or where we are in achieving those goals. The numbers aren’t what companies do, or why we do what we do, or even how we are doing those things, but they are indicators of how well we are doing those things and the progress we are making.

The numbers span financial performance, operational performance, productivity, activity, and other dimensions. Some are more important than others, some are leading indicators, some are trailing indicators, but it’s important to understand how they interrelate and the things that underly them (the what, why, how).

As a result, they are inevitably important parts of the conversations our customers are having.

Each customer and each function within our customers have different numbers that are important to them. And they measure their progress in very different ways. But it’s these numbers that are critical to them and helping them achieve their goals.

If we are to engage our customers in a meaningful way, we have to understand their numbers–those that are important to them, why they are important, what they mean. We have to understand their performance against those numbers.

We have to be comfortable in talking to them about their business–and their numbers. We have to be able to translate what we do to help them with their numbers. We have to be able to discuss how we can drive improvement in their numbers.

Sadly, too few salespeople understand and can do this. They haven’t taken the time to understand what they mean and how they can be influenced. They don’t understand which numbers might be the most important. They don’t understand how to talk to the customers about them and how to change them.

But it’s these numbers that our customers care about. And if we don’t understand them, if we can’t talk about them, if we can’t show how we can help impact them, positively, then we don’t understand our customers and struggle to have impactful conversations with them.

If we don’t understand the numbers, if we don’t understand what they mean to the customer, if we don’t understand what drives them and how we can help the customer influence them, we don’t understand how we create value with the customer.

But now, I come to another set of issues–do we understand our own number? Sadly, too often, salespeople and managers don’t understand their number. Of course, they know quota and quota performance. They may have pipeline metrics and activity metrics.

But understanding the numbers means understanding what they mean and identifying leverage points that drive our performance. But this is another blog post…

Value Heroics: Donna Borden – A Value Hero Who Understands that Value is Just as Important as the Tech

Throughout the summer, DecisionLink is honoring the Value Heroes of organizations as a part of “Value Heroes: A Summer of Recognition.” We are sharing Value Hero stories on our blog of the leading influencers in value management, which were submitted by the value heroes themselves or by the sales professionals that they have supported. Our celebration of Value Heroes concludes on August 13 with our “Value Heroes Summit,” a town hall, virtual forum where value and sales professionals can connect, share stories and best practices, and engage with like-minded professionals.


Value Hero: Donna Borden, Customer Solutions Director, SAP

I’ve been blessed to support some of the best salespeople in the world.

I’ve built my career in pre-sales, understanding both the technology and the business side of the transaction. Why? Because business value is the single most important consideration for any software purchase.

Customer executives will ask, “How will this impact my bottom line? How will this make things better for my customer? How will it bolster my brand? How will it positively impact my employees? How long will this take to implement and provide value?” As a Pre-Sales Director, I must ensure the customer is as comfortable with these answers, as he/she is with the functionality of the solution.

As an example, a large multi-level marketing beauty provider was forced to reassess their business solution, as their global “social commerce” model exploded. They were unable to source their products, unable to expand globally due to complex financial and regulatory requirements, unable to manage fulfilment across thousands of sellers, unable to manage product development on the scale required of a global company, etc.

I worked alongside the sales and the technical solutions team to develop a concise value proposition that outlined the financial and business benefits that come with adopting an enterprise ERP system. How did we measure this?

We considered and determined the financial impact of several items:

  • Higher productivity with real-time data and the ability to take action immediately
  • Better business insights with real-time financial data
  • Real-time reporting that allowed for dashboarding and drill-downs to see what is happening as low as the transaction level (quickly identifying problems)
  • Fast, accurate and compliant financial close with reporting available to thousands of individual sellers
  • Improved business agility in product development, cutting off days or weeks via collaboration and supply chain management
  • Real-time visibility into inventory and distribution

While this list is not exhaustive, it gives a view into the responsibilities of a Pre-Sales Director to ensure that we always identify and articulate the value of software purchase. I am grateful to always have an interesting customer, with a unique business problem. Providing business solutions that give customers a way to differentiate their business is always the greatest challenge.

Just remember, always tie your discussions back to the bottom line!

Value Heroics: Marvin Heery, Alton Dinsmore & John Poparad – Heroics Happen on Both Sides of a Sale

Throughout the summer, DecisionLink is honoring the Value Heroes of organizations as a part of “Value Heroes: A Summer of Recognition.” We are sharing Value Hero stories on our blog of the leading influencers in value management, which were submitted by the value heroes themselves or by the sales professionals that they have supported. Our celebration of Value Heroes concludes on August 13 with our “Value Heroes Summit,” a town hall, virtual forum where value and sales professionals can connect, share stories and best practices and engage with like-minded professionals.


Value Heroes: Marvin Heery, Alton Dinsmore & John Poparad
Submitted by their Colleague: Jim Berryhill

How important are business cases to sales cycles?

Buyers have them 100% of the time. Sellers have them when they want the BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES FOR THEIR SELLING EFFORTS.

I was fortunate to learn this very early in my career.

In 1983, I was a sales rep for Applied Data Research (ADR) and worked with a team at Arnold Air Force Station in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The project involving our Datacom DBMS and IDEAL, a ground-breaking new 4th gen application development solution. Our products gave IT the ability to develop apps more rapidly, manage their data better, enable end-users to do their own querying and reporting, and more.

Along the way, we put together a justification (now we would call it a ‘business value assessment’ or ‘business case’) based on a half-dozen applications that would be delivered faster, for less cost, etc. We got funding and I closed a $500,000 deal, which represented 50% of my quota and was considered a really big deal back then.

Here’s how important the business case was: A few months later, I went to a reception at AAFS and met the Lieutenant Colonel who was commander of the base. He taught me one of the most important lessons I ever received when he said:

“Son, there were projects we preferred over yours. However, when crunch time came, your business case was well prepared, and we knew it would ‘pass muster’ where others were not. So you got funded.”

The Value Heroes of the story were Marvin Heery and Alton Dinsmore, superstar SEs at ADR who made our solutions fly, and John Poparad, a civilian contractor working for the Air Force. Absolutely critical, the customer is always a part of the “Hero Team”. I lost track of John a long time ago. Alton is now a Senior Solutions Architect at Equalum. Marvin, recently deceased, was affectionately known as “Marvelous Marvin” at ADR and CA. I’ll have another article about Marvin later in the Heroes campaign.


To read the full story along with a list of can’t miss lessons learned about value, I posted an article about this sale. You can see my previous post on LinkedIn:


The Value Digest – June 16th, 2020

At DecisionLink we’re all about value. When we’re not building enterprise-class software solutions for Customer Value Management (CVM) like ValueCloud®, we’re busy exploring what’s going on in the world of value and sales leadership. In ‘The Value Chronicles’, published every second week, we’ll be sharing some of the news and editorial that has caught our eye.

We’re not post pandemic yet, in fact some weeks it feels like there’s a long way to go! And as for the new normal, that keeps changing too. So, it’s important to find some constants in the way we work and the way we sell and market to our customers. For us, that constant is customer value. First as a strategic asset and secondly as a something that can deliver growth and leadership in just about every market space. Judging by what we see in the media related to enterprise value management and the success of companies that have focused on customer value to drive success, we’re not alone.

Here’s a few things we’ve seen this last week or two:  

  • According to IDC, COVID-19 is forcing companies to re-evaluate their technology and processes. In a feature entitled, “COVID-19 Response: SaaS Supports Digital Transformation” you can explore how SaaS and cloud software is supporting digital transformation.
  • CRN Magazine reported “ServiceNow Partner ‘Fired Up’ For Changes Aimed at The C-Suite”. ServiceNow is taking aim at the C-suite with changes to its partner program using a down-the-middle pitch that the company can save customers $5 to $10 for every dollar they spend on the platform. One new offering, Now Value, is a suite of services and tools for partners to showcase the cost savings and efficiencies that customers can find using ServiceNow. It includes an online calculator. Partners can use this tool to determine what companies can expect to save, and in which areas the platform can streamline. “It’s hard to listen to these guys without getting fired up and have your mind racing about the potential of this,” Rob Rishel, executive director of the ServiceNow practice with CAI, Inc., tells CRN.
  • In Forbes, Julie Thomas, President & CEO of ValueSelling Associates, and a speaker, author and consultant, wrote “Three Keys Of Value-Based Selling”. Julie adds, “Value-based selling focuses on your buyer and the value they receive by doing business with you. As a sales leader, your team has an advantage when they can compete on value, rather than price. Although the idea is easy to understand, it takes skill and practice to make value-based selling work for you.”
  • Harvard Business Review suggest the “4 Questions Sales Leaders Should Be Asking Right Now”. Whether a business faces a sales slump or sales bump in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s difficult for sales leaders to predict what comes next. Most have already taken urgent actions, such as moving to virtual selling, redeploying sales effort, and reducing sales force capacity if faced with a badly damaged business.
  • Here are “3 Big Lessons Gainsight Learned Creating Pulse Everywhere 2020 For 22,000 People” and how they turned a 5,000 person tech conference into an epic 22,000 online experience in 45 days. Lesson number one: Value Drives Value!
  • McKinsey and Company offer advice on “Elevating customer experience excellence in the next normal”. Companies that make the right investments now could build an enduring advantage in serving customers. Three priorities will be key.
  • Entrepreneur can tell you “What a Sales Team From Any Industry Can Learn From Innovative SaaS Companies”, adding “The best of these companies have experienced meteoric growth, not just because of their products, but because of the innovative strategies they incorporate into their sales processes.”
  • In Fortune magazine you can hear from, “14 CEOs on how to reopen businesses in the coronavirus economy”. They asked 14 Fortune 500 CEOs in an array of industries to share how they’re thinking about next steps. All of them advocate caution. Many are using the moment to focus on fundamentals. And a few see a glimmer of opportunity at an otherwise dreadful moment for humanity.

In our own news:

  • As buyers undergo major cost-cutting evaluations, businesses need to demonstrate the economic impact of their solutions for every rep and every deal. Download the IDC Perspective, “Value Selling: The Only Way to Close in 2020” to learn why organizations need to be scaling their business value selling across the entire customer lifecycle in order to succeed in this challenging year.
  • Building trust is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Face to face meetings have always been the preferred manner to connect, relate and build trust but are becoming increasingly difficult as we adjust to our “new normal” in a world of digital selling. With travel slowing down, our ability to meet face to face with customers and prospects is no longer an easy option. Check out this webinar, “Selling Value and Building Trust in the New Normal” where Jim Berryhill, DecisionLink’s CEO, and Ben Allard, VP Strategic Segment at Apptio, discuss how we overcome this obstacle to build trust and sell value.
  • Jim Berryhill was a panellist on a recent webinar with Vendor Neutral, “What Expectional Sales Playbooks Look Like (And How You Can Build Them Too!)” Check out the recording and learn the characteristics of great playbooks, what reps should do with intent data leads and much more.


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