Your Value Proposition Must Be More Valuable Now!

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.


Creating value with our customers has never been more important than it is now. Our customers face issues they have, probably, never had to deal with in the past. The safety of their people, restrictions on how they operate, profound shifts in their markets and with their customers, possible supply chain management issues, and the list goes on.

Some customers are in areas critical to our current health and economic crises, they are struggling to respond to critical needs from their customers. Some are struggling to be important to their customers. Some are restricted in their ability to do business, for example, hospitality, travel, and many small businesses.

Our customers, as are we, are struggling – individually and organizationally. Their jobs, their businesses, their markets are all disrupted. They are focused on those things most critical to what they face now.

As a result, our value propositions must be sharper and more focused than in the past. We, not only, have to present business justified solutions, but we must present our value in the context of what’s most important to them now.

Some things we have to be focused on:

  1. Our solutions and value will no longer just be evaluated against alternatives. Our solutions will be evaluated against all other things the organization is considering. For example, projects in other parts of the business will be competing with our solutions. Alternatively, people’s jobs may be impacted. Decisions will be made based on what is most critical to the company now.
  2. Time to results becomes more critical than it has been in the past. Time to results is always important, but those things that accelerate the ability for the customer to achieve the desired outcomes are critical.
  3. Risk is critical, but risk in the context of today’s crises may be very different than “business as usual” risks. Can they even make things happen, given current restrictions and market circumstances?
  4. Customer implementation risks/challenges. Can the customer even implement the solution? Given the WFH environment many companies are in, physical proximity, and other challenges, have we helped to enable the customer to implement the solution under current circumstances?
  5. Personal risk and value. Traditionally, we’ve always looked at value propositions in the context of the impact on the organization or enterprise. Too often, we fail to recognize the risk/value to those making the decision and implementing the solution. In the best of times, people can lose their jobs if they make a poor decision. Today, people face heightened anxieties. We must make sure we help them understand the value of our solutions in the face of their concerns right now.
  6. Can we deliver on our commitments? Many companies face huge supply chain challenges. Others have solutions that require people to work in close proximity. Just like our customers face restrictions in what they can get done, so do we. Making sure that we can deliver on what the customer is buying in the time period they expect is critical to their success and ours.

Customers are buying, but they are only buying solutions that address their highest priorities for the business and individually. If we aren’t building value in the context of their new priorities, we are wasting both their time and ours.

Do you Have Blind Spots in Your Renewal Strategy?

By Peter O’Neill, Independent B2B Marketing Analyst

This new decade will see a dramatic increase in the deployment of Customer Success programs. Success – not Service – meaning businesses being proactive about their customers’ projects, as opposed to being merely reactive to customers with problems, like submitting support tickets, sending emails, or complaining on social media.

SaaS Providers Realize The Importance of Renewal Success

Why? Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, especially, know that profitable growth depends greatly on the fullest possible adoption of their solutions in each customer project. While great customer service might mean that they earn a 100% renewal-rate across the customer base in one year, most SaaS executives know that is not enough. Nor is it realistic because there is always some churn from external factors such as M&A, economic downturns, or staff changes. Companies need to earn more each year from existing customers: to cover the churn, finance R&D, and to pay the cost-of-sales of winning new customers in a very competitive environment. The current status in the SaaS industry is that “net retention is a critical figure: if you’re at ~106% you’re in line with the average, if you’re below 100% do a little work to figure out what’s happening, and if you’re ~120%+, you’re in great company.” (see –

So they are all investing heavily in customer success programs (in the form of onboarding and implementation services) and there is a focus on new executive-KPIs like Customer Lifetime Value or specifically Net Dollar Retention Rate. Of course, they cannot apply the same resources to all customers. Most use tiered structures that balance people, resources, and technology. Many have three tiers of programs: the lowest level is mostly automated (e.g., online self-service) while the highest level involves more consultative outreach from customer success managers. And even Sales success metrics are moving away from just pure selling – many sales executives are now being measured on reduced churn rates, i.e. customer retention and expansion.  Again, renewal at 100% of existing run rate is not viewed as a win; to exponentially improve profits, 120% renewal-rate now the new bar.

Customers Have Also Learned How to Renew

Buyers are also beginning to realize the importance of those renewal meetings. Often, a SaaS subscription was purchased by an empowered individual-contributor out of their expense budget. IT or procurement was only involved when the renewal phase was reached, and their considerations are usually different than the original buyer (support, integration with other systems, security). These negotiators have their own agenda, such as a strategic sourcing strategy, which may not include the SaaS provider in question.

Renewal negotiation has moved from a “shall we continue the project?” discussion to an almost full-blown re-evaluation of the initial investment decision. Compliance guidance – or just good procurement management practice – is pushing buyers to evaluate a new shortlist in the renewal phase and each additional user group or functionality is treated as a brand-new project.

Chief Financial Officers are increasingly turning their attention to SaaS expenditures and ask questions about return on investment (ROI), business outcomes, and revenue contribution. Most importantly, they are asking the SaaS users and their provider to demonstrate that the solution delivers quantifiable value to their company.

Enter Value Management

Financial justification tools have been promoted for decades by technology vendors/providers to accelerate their own sales process and help document a need to invest. The tools were typically only used for the business case appendix and it was hardly ever validated post-sale. An ROI calculation served as a one-off forecast consolidating capital investment, perhaps running expenses and increased revenues and/or decreased costs.

One consequence of an “as-a-service” investment is that the value must be monitored continually because usage and deployment of the service will fluctuate over time. So, ROI is no longer a one-off forecast based upon estimates and assumptions, it must be modelled and set up in a system that is able to collect actual data and provide ongoing reporting.

With on-premise software, it has always been difficult to track the ongoing expenses, revenues, and costs. SaaS is, by design, more easily measured and monitored than on-premise software, including value-relevant data about usage and relevant business outcomes. Setting up a value management collection and reporting system is therefore realistic in most cases without custom programming and extensive investments and it can be offered by small and large vendors and be deployed for customers of all sizes.

DecisionLink worked with Dimensional Research recently to survey over 200 SaaS executives and sales managers to understand how they approach value management in their renewal discussions. According to the study, only a quarter (24%) of companies provide value analysis during the renewal process. Another 11% of companies provide value analysis, but only for customers that are at-risk.

Download the Full Research Report

Customer Success Supported by Value Management Will Prevail

Closer attention from finance departments, plus the advent of SaaS, is now generating a clear preference for applying full value management principles throughout the project lifecycle. On the vendor-side, a comprehensive customer value management program will become important in departments such as Customer Success to audit and prove the business benefits and document project effectiveness.

In addition, it is highly probable that, on the user-side, financial and procurement professionals will also be leveraging a value management solution to support a company’s decision-making process for multiple projects as a standard operating practice.

“This is the final missing link in the industry. Connecting the value that was promised in the sales cycle to the value that is being delivered and demonstrated.” -Nick Mehta, CEO, Gainsight

If you would like to discuss this topic, feel free to contact me.

Always keeping you informed! Peter. , ,

Peter O‘Neill is an IT industry veteran with more than 39 years of experience in advising vendor and end-user clients and performing research-based consulting, combining strong research capabilities with comparative vendor assessments and actionable advice. He is most known for his 12 years of service at Forrester Research as industry analyst and research director. Most recently Peter managed Forrester’s research on B2B Marketing organization, process and automation topics, a worldwide team of 11 experienced analysts. Prior to his time at Forrester, Peter had worked for 20 years at Hewlett-Packard in Germany and the USA and then joined META Group (2001 – 2005) where he led the company’s Vendor Consulting Group across EMEA.






Value Heroics: Bob Caravella – From Hero in a Major Deal to Hero to the Organization

Value Hero: Bob Caravella

One day in May 2005, I received an urgent phone call from a Mercury Regional Sales VP asking that I fly to Dallas for a meeting the next day with the Southwestern Bell Corporation (SBC) Senior VP Operations named Rick Felts.

Apparently, a deal estimated at ~$10M, which had been on the sales forecast for many months, was now in trouble and we were at risk of losing the deal.  Originally, Rick Felts advised the Mercury sales team that he had $10M approval authority and was convinced that the Mercury solution was the way to go – he assured them that no formal business case would be required.  However, a recent change in governance at SBC had taken the approval out of Rick Felt’s hands.  Now, a business case was needed – one that Rick could defend in front of the SBC governance board.

Before hopping on a plane, I advised the Mercury VP that we should have a call with Rick to explain our ROI process and introduce the Mercury solution value model.  Following our webex presentation, Rick agreed to have his team collaborate to build the business case.  He assigned a savvy team of ROI stakeholders – senior managers who were convinced the Mercury solution (Business Availability Center) was the right answer, but frustrated that they could not quantify their Proof of Concept results in terms of value to the SBC business.

During my initial conversations with the SBC stakeholders, I learned that one of SBC’s announced strategic initiatives was to “enhance the customer experience and revamp cost structure.” As a part of this strategy, SBC had staffed over 20,000 call center representatives in 135 locations. The effectiveness and efficiency of these operations was highly dependent on the availability and performance of mission critical applications.

I also learned that the Call Centers had a formal methodology for quantifying the end user impact of outages – leading to calculation of a ‘Client Pain Factor’ indicator.  As a result, I adjusted the strawman value model to leverage this indicator in the calculation of business value. The resulting model was so compelling that Rick Felts was sufficiently comfortable to not only defend the need for the original Mercury solution, but he decided to include other related Mercury solutions for application testing – leading the deal to grow from $10M to $18M (the largest deal in Mercury history).

What I was not aware of at the time was that while this deal was in process, Mercury was in the throes of negotiating its acquisition by Hewlett Packard. The $18M SBC deal was crucial for Mercury to make its number for the fiscal year, strengthening its negotiating position with HP.

Thus, I rose from being a hero for a major deal to being regarded as a hero for the organization – receiving the Americas Sales MVP award for 2005.

Epilogue: following Mercury’s acquisition by HP Software, I was asked to build and manage the worldwide Business Value Consulting practice for HP.

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 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. Share your stories and join the conversation!

Value Heroics: Kyle Vanderzanden and Tim Franklin – Value Heroes Who Proved that Leaning In to Transformation Pays Dividends

Value Heroes: Kyle Vanderzanden and Tim Franklin
Nominated by: Josh Lankford

Ten days after first being introduced to a new process and capability for discussing value with their customers, Tim and Kyle leaned into their new processes and tools and used the approach to reshape their engagement at a very significant prospect.

As a result of engaging in a business value discussion early in a sales cycle – as opposed to a feature/function discussion – they were able to gain their champion’s trust and they also identified additional areas of value that they could offer to their prospect.

By embracing a value-based selling approach and utilizing the ValueCloud to generate value-based assets, Tim and Kyle were able to have a very positive impact on the opportunity and they’ve been able to gain access to additional areas of opportunity as a result.

All of this occurred before Kyle had even completed his training! Tim and Kyle’s commitment to learn and embrace a value selling approach has led to early benefits in this engagement.


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 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, a virtual forum where value and sales professionals can connect, share stories and best practices, and engage with like-minded professionals. Share your stories and join the conversation!