If you are shopping for an ROI tool, odds are that you already agree with us that a homegrown Excel tool won’t get you the best results. But how do you evaluate vendors and make the right choice? Here are four elements to consider.
1. Value Proposition Development
Make sure that the vendor supports your value proposition development process. Even if you think yours is very strong, purchasing an ROI tool is a good opportunity to explore how it could be improved. If a vendor accepts your value proposition and benefit dimensions at face value, I’d be leery. They could be going down the path of least resistance (and lowest cost).
On the other extreme, a vendor that wants to charge you $25,000 or $50,000 to research your benefit dimensions and build your value proposition is probably overdoing it -- unless you have a very complex, high-priced offering.
I suggest you ask your prospective vendors about their engagement process and what their initial steps might be. Early on, an experienced and qualified vendor should be able to show you the half dozen or dozen quantifiable benefit dimensions that are likely most important to your offering and value proposition, along with an explanation behind each benefit dimension. This initial framework, along with your feedback, will inform the structure of your ROI calculator.
When your ROI tool is aligned with a strong value proposition, your sales team and your prospects will find your ROI calculations more credible. Buyers will be more likely to use the tool early in the sales cycle during their research phase, and your sales team will be very inclined to use the tool because it will help them gain buy-in from decision makers.
2. Training and Enablement
Some ROI tool vendors offer minimal training on how to actually use the tool, let alone offer intensive instruction on how it should be used as part of a value-selling process. This leaves the entire sales training burden on your shoulders.
Yes, a well-designed ROI tool should provide an intuitive user interface; however, I’ve found a tool demonstration to always be helpful. More importantly, the sales team should be trained on how to use the tool as part of a selling methodology centered on value.
In other words, sales teams need to learn how to engage buyers with value, how the tool works in conjunction with a value-based methodology, and how a value-based selling approach changes their sales process.
3. Systems Integration
Do the vendor’s ROI calculators and value calculators (used by prospects to self-qualify themselves) integrate with your CRM and marketing automation platforms? This integration is critical because the tools you’re about to spend money on need to become a fundamental part of your sales process. For example, you can collect the inputs entered by prospects into a value calculator and send them to sales, and your sales team can then use that data to create a full ROI business case that will persuade prospects to buy.
Systems integration also gives you the added advantage of having a data repository that shows the magnitude of common customer pain points, win/lose analysis by net value (total value minus investment) delivered, what problems customers care about the most, etc. This can help you in a myriad of ways, including optimizing pricing, identifying target markets, and prioritizing new feature development.
4. Updates and Maintenance
Vendors that build tools, deploy them, and walk away leave you susceptible to rapid obsolescence. As we all know, brand guidelines are updated, offerings come and go, industry benchmark data evolves, and company names change. Unless your vendor provides ongoing support to keep your tool fresh, your tool may be outdated in six months. Ask the vendors on your list about their pricing plan and what it includes. A subscription model that includes updates is preferable.
Lastly, the vendor should provide automatic upgrades as its platform evolves. That way, you will automatically enjoy the latest performance improvements, feature updates, and bug fixes.
It’s easy to choose the wrong vendor if you haven’t thought through all the items listed above. However, these simple guidelines should help you purchase an ROI calculator that will help you achieve higher numbers of more qualified leads, shorter sales cycles, and increased win rates.