When ROI Based Selling Is Met With Hostility

Are your ROI questions angering prospects?

Are your ROI questions angering prospects?

When I encountered 2 back-to-back instances of ROI based selling getting a negative reaction in my sales meetings, I decided of course that I’d have to write about it.

What Is It?

ROI (Return On Investment) based selling is simply understanding the cost of the problem for the prospect and trying to offer a solution with a cost that is in line with the size of the problem. This is a great selling technique because it not only gives the seller an idea of the magnitude of the problem but it also wakes up the prospect to the gravity of the pain.

When Feathers Get Ruffled

In both instances of when I was trying to help prospects come up with the cost of their pain, I was told that my technique had been “recognized” by the 2 individuals who got triggered by my questions. One very politely couched it as a question about how he should handle it when a client was angered by ROI based questions. He said that it was a technique used to build up imagined costs to the company to be able to sell a higher priced service or product as a solution. The other individual (separate company) likened me to a Marriott timeshare salesperson. Both individuals requested that I stop the questioning because they were uncomfortable.

Why It’s Happening?

In my Sales Mindset training with the famed 7-figure coach David Neagle, I learned that people who have a dread of being “sold-to” or of talking about money have great emotion around this issue. For some, it comes from the values they associate with selling, like “it’s dishonest or slimy”. Alternately, it can come from a sense of shame when they themselves try to sell. Either way, people who feel uncomfortable when they hear someone trying to use a sales “technique” on them are immediately triggered and respond in a negative way.  Speaking for myself, I was never good at selling until I learned to recognize the triggers and the deep subconscious conditioning that was causing it.

What To Do While Selling

How did I handle both objections when they came up? In both cases, I simply explained that I wouldn’t even know which program to offer them as a solution until I myself understood the magnitude of the cost of the problem. In addition, I challenged the individuals to come up with their own definition and cost of the pain instead of me guiding the discussion. At that point, in one case, other partners took over the discussion and very successfully came up with a very succinct number for the cost of the pain. In the other case, the triggered individual was the leader of the company and so he simply chose not to answer the question and we hung up with no next meeting planned.

What I Learned

When corporate leaders are being triggered by the money questions and by being asked to quantify their lost opportunities, as a supplier, you have to stand strong against their ire. How we do anything is how we do everything. The most successful clients I’ve had have not only understood and embraced ROI based selling but use it in their own selling. If and when you encounter the same hostility in a sales conversation with a prospect who’s not willing to go there, I would think long and hard about whether they would be on the same page with you even after agreeing to work with you. After all, we’re all in business to make money and if we can’t think strategically about money and allow emotion to dictate investment decisions, how will we ever grow beyond what we’ve always known?
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About Chala

Chala Dincoy is a Marketing Strategist who helps B2B service providers reposition their marketing message to successfully sell to corporate clients