2/22/2016

During the course of a sale, most of us try to explain how the customer will receive a return on their investment. This proof of ROI is often seen as just as important as the features and benefits of the new product or service they are buying. What doesn’t get talked about much during the sale is whether or not there will be an emotional return on investment. Yet it’s one of the most crucial parts of sales.

What is emotional ROI?

Offering emotional ROI means that you can promise that whatever emotional benefits your buyer gets out of the purchase will eventually outweigh any emotional risk present at the time of purchase.

What emotional risks are at play in B2B buying? Here are just a few:

Predictability and stability.
Prospects put their sense of peace and stability at risk every time they consider implementing a new solution or product. The pain the prospect already knows in their processes, inefficiencies, seem easier to live with than the unknowns of implementing something new that could fix them. 

Even if a prospect’s future looks less than ideal with their current solution (or lack of one), at least they’re used to the situation. We may be able to offer them something better, but there’s a certain amount of shake up that inevitably comes along with new solutions.

Peer reputation.
When a prospect endorses and promotes a particular solution to their peers, they are putting their reputation on the line. If the purchase and implementation go well and business results follow, their reputation grows immensely. Conversely, if the buying or implementation process is rocky, they run the risk of losing the confidence of their peers the next time.

Workload and current projects.
By adding an implementation project onto their plate, potential buyers are putting other projects they have in progress at risk of delay. If the purchasing process and implementation take too much time, they may not be able to execute effectively on other parts of their job, adding stress and other negative consequences.

For your prospect to believe in the emotional ROI of your solution, they need to believe that their reputation will grow, that it will make them more upwardly mobile, that it won’t put current projects at risk, not to mention hurt their outside relationships and interests.

As CEB has shown, in order for buyers to advocate for a purchase, personal value must outweigh business risk. Business value alone is not enough to motivate individuals to advocate for a purchase. No matter how you highlight emotional needs, intense emotion—for the buyer personally—is exactly what you need to create intense commitment.

Selling emotional ROI needs to be embedded in everything we do as salespeople. Just like any other purchase, B2B buyers make purchases for emotional reasons.

Every touch point needs to reinforce a buyer’s belief that the emotional ROI will be worth it. Here’s how:

Double down on the pain of the status quo.
For the prospect to move through the sales process, they must believe that keeping things as they are will bring more pain and trouble over the long run than making a change—right now—to your solution. The more you can help them feel the pain of the status quo, the bigger the potential emotional ROI.

Kickstart emotional ROI with good design.
At DemoChimp, we believe in the philosophy that life is too short for bad software. Poor product design significantly endangers solid emotional ROI. Customers spend hours and hours interacting with your solution’s design. It’s not good enough for your client to love everything about your software’s output if it looks like it’s going to be a pain to use. Software with great design, UI, and UX will help potential customers believe they might enjoy using your solution or product more than their current solution. And it shows a dedication of time and resources to who matters matters most: the customer.

Minimize risk to peer reputation.
A buyer wants to know if what you are selling will increase her reputation with her peers. One of the best ways to minimize risk to a buyer’s peer reputation is to provide social proof by way of great customer references. Provide peer-driven references that are relevant to each of the roles in the buying group. For example, if you’re selling a solution into marketing, but the CTO is concerned about security, give the CTO the names of a few other current customer CTOs they can call or share a CTO-specific case study or quote. Hearing another CTO say that your software passed his company’s security review with flying colors goes a long way. The same goes for any leader or C-level stakeholder in the buying group.

Map out the implementation and adoption requirements for each role.
We recommend forecasting the amount of time required of each member of the buying group in each phase of implementation. How much time will the person in each role on the buying group—Head of Sales, CMO, CTO—need to contribute? Mapping out what is required for each role helps customers plan appropriately, reducing their emotional risk and increasing emotional ROI. Providing data from past client engagements gives new buying groups even more confidence in your projected time investment.

Ask compelling questions about emotional ROI.
Sometimes, we as salespeople avoid asking tough questions because we are afraid of the answers we may receive. We don’t want to consider, for example, that this may not be the best time for the client to implement. But wouldn’t you rather get the deal done and implemented when it makes sense for the client instead of forcing them into an implementation too early and end up with an unhappy customer?

Emotional ROI blended with actual ROI means more sales success. In the end, buying—both for consumers and in B2B situations—is always an emotional decision. The bottom-line cost of a solution always plays a secondary role. Yes, making a compelling financial case is required, but a prospect won’t even consider the business’ financials if they don’t first believe that the emotional ROI they’ll get from it personally is in their favor. Use the tips outlined here to persuade them that it is.

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Today’s post is by guest author Garin Hess, CEO, Consensus.