Not Your Father’s ROI?

Nxt Generation ROI

General Motors ran an ill-fated ad campaign in the late 80’s and early 90’s about The New Generation of Oldsmobile with a tag line “Not your Father’s Oldsmobile”*. They used hip music and video and got famous fathers like Ringo Starr, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy with their daughters while promoting an imminently forgettable line of automobiles.

It was only about a decade later that Oldsmobile became a brand of the past.
“Dead’er than a beaver hat” I heard someone say.

NXT-GEN ROI cannot be a rehash of OLD-GEN ROI that companies have tried to use for the past 20 years. OLD-GEN ROI has the following characteristics with terrible consequences:

– Limited almost exclusively to the last ½ of a sales cycle
– Limited almost exclusively to a handful of a company’s largest deals
– Limited almost exclusively to skilled “value engineers” and “business value consultants”.

OLD-GEN ROI is like driving a 1989 Olds Calais with the terrible Quad 4 engine (oft thought to resemble Offenhauser’s design of the 1930’s) versus a brand-new, top of the line Tesla Model S.

In practice OLD-GEN ROI looks like this, limited to the bluish area in the top right. Perhaps the worst part is that OLD-GEN ROI is only practiced this “well” by about 9% of today’s companies:

The pain associated with OLD-GEN ROI is real. Low effectivity in marketing, lack of buyer connection and business alignment in early sales stages, forecasts vulnerable to losses as well as deal slippage and margin erosion for deals that are won, and churn with price pressure within the existing customer base. All because Value Selling is not a part of a company’s DNA.

Here’s what NXT-GEN ROI should look like, impacting the entire Customer Journey:

Over the next several posts, I’ll talk about the Identification, Position, Proposition and Realization impacts of NXT-GEN ROI across Marketing, Sales and Customer Care.  Read here for a Harvard Business Review Study of business impact.

OLD-GEN ROI won’t go away anytime soon, but companies utilizing it will fail to achieve peak performance and be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those using NXT-GEN ROI.

*FWIW, if Olds and GM in general had stayed out front in the 80’s and 90’s with cars like the ‘58 Buick Roadmaster, ’66 Pontiac GTO, ’68 Chevy SS396 and ’72 Olds 442, they wouldn’t have gone through the 25 year hard times they did.

Supercharge Sales Effectiveness – Harvard Business Review Study

Super Charged Sales Effectiveness

For the first post in this series, (Click Here), I made this claim:

Sales Effectiveness is super-relevant for the Executive Suite and Board of Directors because there is no more significant way to impact an organization’s financial performance than by improving Sales Effectiveness. And there is no more significant way to impact Sales Effectiveness than by “Value Selling”.  

That’s a pretty big claim, and I want to provide a research data point to substantiate it. Harvard Business Review’s analysis of 3 “levers” vividly illustrates, and substantiates, this claim:

While Sales Effectiveness is a meaningful avenue to “Increase Sales Volume”, it is NOT an avenue to “Decrease Discount”. That is the near exclusive domain of Value Selling. By the way, Value Selling impacts and enhances virtually every area of Sales Effectiveness. Value Selling is the avenue to both “Increase Sales Volume” and “Decrease Discount”.

See this Value Selling Success Story for a prime example of what I’m talking about.

Value Selling as a part of an organization’s DNA is the sure-fire avenue to Increased Sales Volumes, Decreased Discounts and higher corporate performance.

Since we’re talking about roadways, the avenue to world-class Value Selling as part of an organization’s DNA is a NXT-GEN ROI system. You can read more about that in general here and specifically what a NXT-GEN ROI system should enable. (Click Here)

The next post in the Supercharge Sales Effectiveness series will be about the “elephant in the room”, AKA CRM.




Nxt Generation ROI







Is it worth it to create ROI analysis for your opportunities?

As a B2B sales professional, your decision whether or not to invest time in creating a business case depends on the amount of effort required versus your expected return.  And since today’s prevailing paradigm is that creating a unique business case is a difficult task, most of your opportunities probably don’t have one.


On the other hand, your prospects have a limited amount of funds and they will (or should) only invest in those projects that promise the highest yield.  They will always compare your proposal with a multitude of others, and if you do not discuss a financial justification with the decision maker then someone else will.

So how do we solve this dilemma?  By disrupting the status quo and using technology to decrease the amount of effort required.

When you can generate detailed business case documents in a matter of minutes for all your opportunities, you will have better conversations at the highest levels and your close rate will increase.

The ROI of ROI then becomes undeniable.





Super Charged Sales Effectiveness

I often struggle with the approaches of communicating value.  I have seen really great examples of how value selling has changed a deal for the positive and I have seen examples where value selling has turned the deal on its side.  In most cases, the reason for the conversation around value going sideways was because “the expert” wasn’t in the room and the sales team got out over their skis.

This can be for any number of reasons but the main reason I have seen is due to the model used to calculate value being too complex and hard to follow.  Well if your sales team cannot communicate it, how on earth will the customer ever be able to take ownership of it and sell when you cannot be in the room?  Let’s face it they can’t and herein lies the problem.  As someone who spends every hour of the day helping companies move the ability to sell value into the sales team (and even the channel in many cases) I have spent many a sleepless night trying to come up with a solution to that specific problem.


Regardless of the model, ROI Calculator, TCO Calculator, etc. If you do not keep the way you communicate value to the customer SIMPLE, CONSISTENT, AND TRANSPARENT, you run the risk of the having a sub-optimal outcome of all of your hard work.  So how do we do this?

  • Land on a consistent way of calculating value at a high level:  Please comment and I would be happy to give you some thoughts on how I approach this part of the problem.  If you can get to a point where anyone can understand you benefits, then you have accomplished the goal
  • Stay the course: One of the biggest challenges to adoption is a moving target, especially when it comes to sales people.  They do not have the time nor inclination to play “follow the bouncing ball” when it comes to their sales conversations
  • No Black Box: I have seen this with many tools (home grown and commercial).  The simple fact is if you cannot trace both the numbers and the rationale then you will never be able to survive without the “expert” to explain even the basics.  That simply DOES NOT scale

If you do this correctly, you can have the experts focus on the truly challenging multi-million dollar or very strategic snowflake deals and transform you sales team into a force that can differentiate not just what they sell but how they sell it!

Competitive Differentiation – Uniques, Semi-Uniques and Me Too’s

Value Selling Success Stories 



Competitive Differentiation – Uniques, Semi-Uniques and Me Too’s

Normally when we think of the unique attributes of what we sell, we are looking for something that establishes meaningful competitive differentiation. We do it, they don’t, it matters. Selling is so much better when you can hang your hat on real competitive differentiation. If I have it, the competitors don’t and it matters to the buyer, that’s the perfect selling storm.

However, the selling world rarely works that way. Buyers rarely believe in UNIQUE that way. This is a story of a competitive differentiator and how it turned a niche player into a leader.

So to level set, here are my definitions. These are the real world:

  • UNIQUE – We do it, they don’t, it matters.
  • SEMI-UNIQUE – We both do it, but there’s a meaningful differentiation in our capability.
  • ME-TOO – We both do it and there’s no meaningful differentiation.

Realistically, the vast majority of value that sellers deliver are SEMI-UNIQUE and ME-TOO.

So here’s the story, it’s a great one. In the early 1980’s, the DBMS market was dominated by IBM, Cullinet, and Cincom, each with several thousand customers. ADR acquired an upstart technology branded Datacom, with about 200 customers. In addition to shoring up the Datacom’s “industrial strength”, we needed a differentiator to get us into opportunities. To change the rules of the game. If not, we’d be the 4th (or 5th) horse in a 2 or 3 horse race.

                                                                                                         Otherwise known as irrelevant.

There was a technology “religious” war brewing around Relational DBMS, 4th Generation languages, end-user tools and other technological capabilities, a mind-numbing panoply (or quagmire) of technologies. But one of the biggest issues for database projects was you had to re-write your applications to get the benefits of the DBMS and wonderful new tools. Business executives wanted capabilities immediately, not in a year or 2 (or 3 or 4). So the great minds behind Datacom (see below!) built a disruptive technology call “VSAM Transparency”.

VSAM-T enabled organizations to move data for existing applications into Datacom/DB and then run those application programs unchanged. Indeed, the programs often ran faster!!!

In a matter of a couple months, a company could be using super-advanced tools and meeting business needs. While there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from some database purists, VSAM-T was a game-changer, a pure UNIQUE differentiator for a couple of years.

And it helped put Datacom/DB on the map. In just a couple years, ADR caught up with IBM and Cullinet, and was a player in virtually every DBMS evaluation.

And for us sales reps, VSAM-T gave us a PROVOCATIVE, CHALLENGING, HYPOTHESIS capability to align to what business execs wanted, and to be this guy:

UNIQUES matter when you can find them, but SEMI-UNIQUE is more realistic, and has the same or similar impact. In a couple of years, IBM and Cullinet had VSAM-Transparency capabilities, and tried to make it a ME-TOO conversation. Before Lee Corso used the phrase, ADR responded with “not so fast my friend” and continued to build on the differentiated capabilities of our VSAM-T versus the competitors.

The key point:  find UNIQUE or SEMI-UNIQUE competitive differentiators and tie them to value and outcomes for your customers. If you want to speak the language of business (it’s the only language that matters) that means converting them into –  dollars, time and quality.  When you do, you can go from not even being in the game, to the leader of the pack.

Click here for another success story about the quantified $$$ value of competitive differentiation and how it impacts renewals and upsell with existing customers.These are some of the incredible professionals who gave us Datacom and VSAM-T.    If there’s a software hall of fame, they should be in it:

Chuck                                      Orrin                                          Kevin                               Joe Lynn
                                   Stevens                                     Shuma                            Not Pictured
Rest in Peace                                                                                                            

Like Father, Like Son — These Duos Went from Family to Startup Partners


It’s one thing to take over the family business. But it’s another thing to go straight into a new business venture with your dad. This presents a whole new set of challenges — like not knowing if you should call your partner by his name or ‘dad’ when in the office, or keeping business away from the dinner table.

These three Father-Son duos discuss how they decided to go into business together, the benefits of working with your biggest ally, and the challenges they’ve found along the way as they navigate interchanging from one close relationship to another.

Jim and Jake Berryhill

Jim is the CEO of DecisionLink, a marketing, sales and customer success platform. His son, Jake, is the Business Development Manager.

Is DecisionLink your first business venture with Jim (your dad)?

Although DecisionLink is the first time I’ve been directly employed by my dad, he taught me much about business growing up. As an example, when I was about 15, he helped me buy a pressure-washer and start a summer business. He taught me how to go door to door, make phone calls, etc. to drive business, scope and quote jobs, negotiate good deals for myself and the importance of customer satisfaction.

Why did you decide to work together?

It was toward the very early stages of my career. I had had one previous full-time job for a small bio-tech company. Jim founded DecisionLink and within about a year was able to offer me a job. He has always been a terrific mentor and with his success in business, combined with my desire for a tech industry job it was pretty much a no-brainer.

What are some of the unique obstacles of being in business with your dad?

Truthfully not many. I get asked this all the time, and my answer is always the same. From my impression he treats me as he would any employee and very fairly, which I greatly appreciate it. There is always going to be a bond he and I share that he doesn’t have with other employees, but we both do our best to keep things professional while at work. For me, a particular obstacle would be that the time I spend with him on a daily basis may have a negative impact on spending as much time with him outside of work, but I try and not let that have too much effect.

How do you play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses?

I certainly am motivated to be more of a grinder because of him. On the flip-side I would say I think he has learned from me in various ways when it comes to enjoying life as it comes and goes. I have more of my mothers attributes in that regard, which I’m sure he recognizes and loves about her. If I could be as organized and meticulous as he is, I won’t have much to worry about!

Alan and Phil Pledger

Alan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Landing Lion, and his Dad, Phil is the CTO. Landing Lion is a Landing Page creator for marketers.

Why did you decide to work together?

Outside of consulting work, Landing Lion is our first real business venture together. Depends on what you define as “work.” We’ve always worked closely together for as long as I can remember, project after project. I always knew I wanted to work with him on a business, but we only got serious about it after I graduated from college in 2012.

What are some of the unique obstacles of being in business with your dad?

Separating work from family becomes near impossible. I miss being able to come to my parents house and escape from all the real world stresses and enjoy family time. I also find that working with your family is not always perceived as a positive from the outside. I’m sure there are some nightmare stories about getting involved in a business with family members, and I find myself having to tiptoe around this fact more often than not.

What are some of the unique benefits of being in business with your dad?

The biggest benefit that first comes to mind is trust. I believe that the trust and transparency that exists within a family can spread throughout an organization and have tremendous effects. With that trust, we have been given the freedom to fail, to learn, to be honest with each other, and to grow.

How do you play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses?

We actually complement each other well, from a technical coding standpoint and a personality standpoint. I am an extroverted creative who specializes in the front end, and my dad is an analytical introvert who specializes in the back end. I move fast and break things, and he is slow and meticulous. I am a risk taker and idealistic, while he is cautious and a realist. In fact, we are actually pretty opposite from one another. We don’t always see eye to eye on every issue, but that’s a good thing.


Kyle and Andy Williams

Andy is the President of Zypp Technologies, and his son, Kyle, is the Digital Product Manager. Zypp gives physical therapists instant and configurable rehab programs with trackable progression data to improve evidence-based outcomes. Zypp Technologies is based out of Atlanta Tech Village and this Q&A originally appeared on the ATV blog.

Why did you decide to work together?

We have both played sports our whole lives and have been through many a rehab session. Based on past experiences, we identified a vulnerability in the way Physical Therapy clinics were tracking the results of their patients’ workouts, particularly with resistance band use. We sensed there was an opportunity to provide PTs with more evidence-based feedback which would lead to smarter programming and improved outcomes, as well as a lower likelihood of re-injury. Thus was born Zypp Technologies. We both saw an opportunity in the marketplace and with a common vision we set out on another journey together.

What’s it like being all-in with a startup AND your family?

Nerve-wracking at times. Fun all the time. It’s encouraging to know you have someone so close in it every day with you. We don’t want to let each other down. Communication is the key to making it work. We are able to say things about challenges and direction that others may not want to say or want to address so quickly or in such a direct manner. It can also be stressful as the deadlines, customer requirements/demands and financial requirements may not all be aligned at the time. Also, remembering to call him Andy instead of Dad!

What is the best thing about working with each other?

Being able to work everyday to build a company with and learn from someone who has experienced so much success. The fact that that person also happens to be my dad is a great bonus.

One of the greatest things about working with my son is being able to see the amazing professional growth that he is experiencing. It is so gratifying when clients pull me aside to tell me how much they enjoy working with him and have full confidence in him managing their projects and account – and I get to experience this daily!

The Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Ashton Kutcher Visits DecisionLink

Nxt Generation ROI


A couple weeks ago, DecisionLink had the opportunity to spend time with Ashton Kutcher @aplusk.

A well-known actor in TV (“The 70’s Show”) and movies (“Jobs”), he is also a producer of note (“Punk’d”). More importantly to me, as   co-founder of Thorn and supporter of many other organizations, Ashton is a powerful and committed activist in the anti-human trafficking arena, something I greatly admire.

Ashton is also a high-tech investor of note, and that was our conversation. He asked me to give our elevator pitch which went something like this:

“Buyers make purchase decisions based on business value, yet sellers are seldom able to quantify, articulate, competitively differentiate and then defend the value propositions of their proposals…research says only about 8-10% of the time. This is due to the absence of a system to enable those capabilities. The result is sub-optimal account-based marketing, low lead-to-opportunity conversions, mediocre close rates & deal values against forecasts and high customer churn. DecisionLink built the first system to automate Value Selling. Our customers like VMware, ACI, Equifax, Caterpillar, Skillsoft and more impact every area of the “Customer Journey”, Marketing, Sales and Customer Care.”

Ashton then proceeded to ask a series of insightful questions, a few went to the very heart of what we do at DecisionLink, why it matters and what our challenges are.

AK:  What do you mean by automation and “system”? How do companies do it now?

JB:  Currently this function is almost always performed by “Value Analysts”. There’s not much automation, repeatability, etc. Additionally, task complexity requires the Value Analyst’s engagement throughout the process. Think of the automobile. In 1900, there were 5000 autos in the US, hand built. With the application of automation and the production assembly line, 500,000 autos per year were being manufactured by 1915. With DecisionLink Value Cloud, our customers create 500 value props or more annually per Value Analyst versus 50-80 manually.

AK:  It sounds like you have a cookie-cutter approach. Isn’t every prospect company different?

JB:  Yeah, that’s where the auto metaphor fails. Henry Ford said you could have the Model T any color you like, as long as it’s black (laughter). Cookie-cutter doesn’t work here. The heart of Value Cloud is the first repository designed specifically for Value Objects. Those are expressions of value that ultimately have an economic result. Value Objects are multi-dimensional, for instance, the value for “labor cost” can vary from industry to industry, from use case to use case and between geographic regions. Additionally, a seller’s “competitively differentiated value” varies from competitor to competitor. Two-dimensional tabular representations don’t cut it, that’s the reason the Value Analysts will have a unique spreadsheet for every account. One of our customers estimated over 400 potential scenarios (10 industries x 5 geo’s x 4 use cases x 2 competitors). The Value Repository accommodates multiple dimensions within a single model, solving that problem. That, by the way, was a hard as heck technology to build.

AK:  Ok, but you talk about the sales reps carrying the ball instead of Value Analysts. That doesn’t seem practical. Isn’t the Value Analyst’s knowledge still needed, or are you eliminating their jobs?

JB:  Sure their knowledge is needed. In the example I cited, the knowledge from the Value Analyst and others is built into the Repository. That’s not a one-time exercise either. But to produce for a single account, the sales rep simply identifies the account, product(s) being sold, industry for the account, use case, GEO, competitor and boom…an initial estimate is produced along with sales ready assets for the rep to communicate and share with the account. Very specific for the 1 in 400 situations that account fit into. That work alone would take a Value Analyst a few days or more to produce, if it could be done at all. Back to the autos metaphor, there aren’t less mechanics today than when cars were made by hand!

AK:  But the sales rep is now going to present that? Isn’t that what the Value Analyst does?

JB:  That’s a big hurdle. We developed training and a workflow called the Value Deal Desk to make sure sales executes effectively. It’s a process. That said, every selling methodology trains sales reps to do this. Challenger, Command of the Message, Solution Selling, etc. All of them. It’s not like this is new to the sales team, they just haven’t had the content, which we give them. Back to the automobile metaphor, virtually everybody can drive because everybody has a car. With DecisionLink automation, every sales rep has a “car”, that is, value proposition content, for every account and opportunity. By the way, if the Value Analysts are now covering lots more deals. Everybody wins.

AK:  How do the customers of your customers respond?

JB:  Generally, great. Think about it. The end customer has a project under consideration. His or her project is competing for funds with many other projects. If the end customer is able to quantify, articulate and defend that project against others, the project has a better chance for funding. The CFO of one end customer said, “this is
the best business case I’ve ever seen from a vendor, it’s clear and easy to understand.” The CIO of another said, “I get it. Move the priority up and get this funded now.” A side benefit for the seller is that if an end customer won’t engage in the value conversation, there’s probably no deal there.
There was more conversation, particularly around “account based marketing” and the ability to personalize, a really rich area of impact.

It was cool to meet Ashton and spend some time. He’s a really smart guy who had me on my toes. Very interesting that his questions were at the core of the seller:buyer dynamic, and ratified that every seller ought to be concerned and doing something about this area.



Value Selling Success Stories


In a recent blog post, I talked about Selling Value to Existing Customers.

Selling to existing customers is fundamental to our businesses. Yet we often have pressure on those renewals either by a lack of understood value, budgetary pressures, or replacement efforts by competitors. Sometimes it’s one of the oldest plays in the sourcing/procurement book, to bait our competitors with the opportunity to “replace our incumbent if you get aggressive and really sharpen your pencil, etc., etc.” Or some combination of the above.

Sellers end up with customer churn, unnecessary
discounts and more.

But, if you communicate the “Value Realized” by customers, you have a fighting chance.

The Story

A DecisionLink customer had just such a situation with an existing client. It wasn’t just any client, it was a blue-chip company headquartered in the same city. Whether a ploy or not, the Champion at the client told them, “We’ve got significant budget pressure and one of your competitors has offered to replace you with a 50% price reduction”. Please help me!!!

Other than the Champion asking for help, that’s certainly not what any of us want to hear.

 Focus on Value Realization

This threat was significant, a competitive loss in their hometown would be a disaster. The “upside” at this point was to meet or get close to the competitive price, knocking a 250K renewal down to 125K or so. Not good!

Our customer offered a “value assessment” which was quickly agreed. In the assessment, we determined the following (with agreement by the Champion):

  • The client achieved over $1.25M in cost savings in the prior 12 months.
  • Of that amount, almost $375K was competitively differentiated, that is, the $125K saved in subscription would equal $250K lost after netting out.
  • They identified additional areas of value their client had not yet achieved, and put a plan in place to realize that value.
  • They identified over $500K in additional value their client could achieve by upgrading to their premium offering (additional $155K subscription).

Reactions from the Prospect & The End Game

The champion was relieved, but also was able to make his case within the client organization which resulted in organizational esteem. Our customer gained valuable competitive insights they previously didn’t have. Best of all, our customer renewed the client at $405K (a 60% uplift over the projected renewal), established a framework of value with their client and sent the competitor packing.

One More Take-Away

Our customers like us, after all, they chose to do business with us. But how often does a seller treat a customer this way, helping them quantify, articulate and defend the choices and investments they made? Not often. Imagine the reference calls praising service and value after the sale, and the Net-Promoter scores that go along with that.

BTW, once again, these principles are not that different for selling a new prospect. That is what BUYERS want, and what CUSTOMERS also want. What is the value to ME?

Stay tuned for a blog about multiple customer/prospect personas. When we use the same conversation for Execs, LOB managers and evaluators, why are we surprised with some (or all) of them don’t connect so well!



The Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Selling Value to Existing Customers

Nxt Generation ROIThe Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Selling Value to Existing Customers

Last post we discussed the 3 ways new opportunities get started:

1. Seller helps prospect identify need
2. Prospect identifies need on their own
3. Competition helps prospect identify need and how a Nxt-Gen ROI
system impacted all 3 in a material way.

Today the conversation is about your existing customers, specifically, keeping your customers, protecting margins, fending off competition and promoting cross-sell/up-sell.

Achieving those is the penultimate achievement of CUSTOMER CARE.

Imagine for your existing customers a scenario like this…6 months prior to a renewal, your company offers a complementary “health check-up” service. It’s short and sweet, you interview the customer staff and:

  • Identify (and measure) areas of success,
  • Identify areas that need improvement,
  • Identify potential competitive threats, and
  • Identify areas of new opportunity.

Several months before your renewal, you’ve done all of the above and provide the customer an assessment a few weeks later that lays the groundwork for your renewal.

What customer doesn’t want this kind of service from their vendors? Yet it is rarely provided. Simply put, your NxtGen-ROI system MUST facilitate this capability for your organization so that is standard practice, a part of your customer engagement DNA.

Outcomes? Lower churn rates, improved margins, and up-sell/cross-sell for more revenue.

It’s not theoretical, check out this week’s Value Selling Success Story for a prime example.

Ensuring your organization has a Nxt-Gen ROI capability unlocks the potential for all 4 ways that sales opportunities get started.





Value Selling Success Stories


In a recent blog post, I talked about the 3 ways we get into new opportunities.

Nobody wants to be CANNON FODDER, you know, brought in late to round out the short-list, get a check in the box for looking at alternatives, etc., etc.

Conventional wisdom sometimes is to not even respond to unsolicited RFP’s and the like. But if you can change the conversation, you can win the deal.

The Story

We were invited to present to a new prospect for an opportunity that would be mid-to-high 6 figures in value. We had never called on them before and the CIO told me “you have 2 hours, we’re making a decision in 30 days”. Red flags went off all over the place as these decisions were usually made in 9-12 months. I was a new manager and had a pretty good rep on the account, but there wouldn’t be any relationship building or such, we had to do something radical and disruptive. It’s a fundamental selling move, one that saves a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted, and wins deals.

The Prospect

The Clerk of the Circuit Court contains the administrative/operational organization for Hillsborough County (Tampa), Florida. They were making a massive decision for their IT applications and data infrastructure. Years earlier, the 13 Judicial Court (also in Tampa) selected and implemented our primary competitor and the two organizations had been collaborating for over a year. They couldn’t get a sole-source exemption, thus cannon fodder was invited.

Changing the Conversation

90% of the time these are technology feature-fests that we were sure to lose. In the words of Snuffy Smith, we had not time to waste on that.

We did our research (not that hard) and found out that a critical application had to be delivered in a couple of years…a set of political promises. We also knew that we had a distinct advantage in “time to delivery” over our competitor, and could demonstrate that advantage.

To change the conversation, we used our 2-hour slot to do the following:

  • 15 minute overview on our solution, highlighting distinguishing capabilities
  • 20 minutes on their application project and a pro forma project plan to deliver ahead of schedule
  • 10 minutes on the ROI (as we understood it) to the county for the application, the value of on-time, ahead of schedule and being late (there were consequences)
  • 30 minutes on our implementation plan (ensuring their project plan)
  • 45 minutes for Q&A

 We prepped well, but had a 50:50 expectation to end-up where we began, as cannon fodder.

 Reactions from the Prospect

Two hours turned into three, other people were brought into the meeting, the rep and I got invited to have lunch with the county chief operating officer. (In a previous post I stated “you get to talk to those you sound like”. We sounded like what the COO cared about.)

 The End Game

We won the recommendation. We also got requirements added that blocked our competitor’s effort to protest the award. This ultimately became a competitive “go to” customer and our gateway to several other county orgs in the state. We got a more than fair price also as our competitor set premium $$$ expectations thinking they had no competition.


Changing the Conversation is not always easy, but it’s not that hard either, and it always works. Sometimes you get the prospect’s attention and have a fair competitive landscape, or one that’s tilted in your favor. Sometimes you don’t, but you get the heck out early and fast and spend your valuable time and resources on winnable opportunities. Sales experts like Dave Brock call this “relentless disqualification”.

In any event, from a selling perspective you get to the best possible position.

BTW, these principles are not that different for “Compete for a Deal” and “Start a Deal”. Make the conversation about the customer and what they need to achieve, distinguish yourself from the competition, quantify the economic impact and show them how you’ll get them to the objective.


That is what BUYERS want. Stay tuned for blog about multiple customer/prospect personas. When we use the same conversation for Execs, LOB managers and evaluators, why are we surprised with some (or all) of them don’t connect so well!