In my role of supporting organizations through Application Strategy and Software Evaluation projects, I work with a lot of sales people. While every sales team has a different approach to selling software, in general there are a few key traits to a good sales cycle:
- The sales team will try to establish a relationship with multiple people within the buying organization. Building a network of champions helps to create enthusiasm and consensus around their product internally rather than just from the sales team.
- There are references to current clients which highlight a great experience. Quotes and user experience stories are powerful references which demonstrate that if another organization was able to benefit from the software, yours can as well.
- Teams target operational buzzwords like “efficiency”, “compliance”, and “transparency” to advocate that their system is an improvement on the current process. Vendors talk to a lot of organizations. There are challenges in today’s marketplace that are common for all companies and teams highlight their ability to address these widespread challenges.
These approaches are well proven as effective selling tools; however, they fall into a category of Idea Based Selling. At some point, the sales cycle has to move beyond the idea and into the facts. Very few organizations have someone signing the checks who will invest in a transformative project without a solid view of the investment required, potential returns, and financial risks.
When we work with our clients to develop an ERP strategy our team collaborates to present a business case which addresses these questions. Our most successful projects combine a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the potential opportunities, benefits, and risks. For example, part of our discovery process will be to document the pain points that an organization experiences with its current tools and processes. That information helps to build two pieces of the business case:
- First, we can create qualitative summary of the challenges by functional area. This helps to demonstrate where there are widespread issues which leadership may not realize are pervasive to the larger organization.
- We can also estimate the value of the time lost to lower value activities by looking at those areas which are bottlenecked by the current tools and processes. We can analyze the potential time or cost savings which could be realized from having more availability for those same resources to focus on high value analysis.
There is no silver bullet which creates the perfect story to get leadership buy-in for a new ERP system or in selecting new software. Each organization’s priorities and strategic objectives help to shape what makes a compelling business case. However, realizing ideas are only part of the equation, and that an analytical evaluation can be a game changing resource when presenting your case can help your team to prepare a more persuasive, and ultimately, successful story.