How do you build a better ROI tool?

by Ian Campbell September 5, 2023
Build a better ROI tool

Closing a deal today is more likely to include an ROI business case. That’s good news but generating those ROI numbers can be a chore for a sales rep in the heat of a deal. Many organizations turn to custom ROI tools to help with the process, but getting a sales rep to use the tool can be a challenge. ROI tool training is not a meeting sales reps are anxious to attend. To increase the likelihood of usability and success, we’ve identified 6 best practices we use when developing an effective ROI tool.

Targeted to the solution and vertical.
Generic tools may address every possible scenario, but they can become cumbersome and unfocused. Better to create a few tight, targeted ROI tools that address a solution or vertical that can be applied in most situations and leave the outlier situations to internal or external experts.

Intuitive and easy to understand.
Design the tool with clear descriptions of each calculation to allow for minimal training. Make sure the flow of the tool matches the natural discussion a salesperson would have with a prospect. The tool should feel “comfortable” as a supporting script. If it doesn’t follow the salesperson’s process it won’t be adopted.

Short and to the point.
Keep the tool focused on the numbers and don’t restate your marketing materials. That streamlines the tool and keeps your salesperson from viewing it as a complicated process with multiple questions might turn a financial discussion into consulting engagement.

Usable at all stages of the deal.
Throw away those quick calculators built on generic benchmarks. They might entice a prospect, but if they can’t hold up to real financial review, you’ll derail your deal. Don’t let a marketing tool impersonate a real financial analysis.

Get the calculations correct.
When it comes to delivering the results, using unrecognized metrics or confusing IRR with ROI are the two most common issues we found financial decision makers noted when they chose to ignore a business case delivered by a vendor.

Deliverable to the customer.
Almost every CIO and CFO we’ve interviewed as part of technology initiatives wanted the ability to do their own what-if analysis. Ignore custom applications and stick with the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel when building a tool. No need for complexity or tracing customer actions with a software-based tool. The tool is only there to close the deal.

We’ve created hundreds of ROI tools over the years, and I’d suggest only 10% of the effort is the mechanics of the calculations. The rest of the effort is the artform of simplifying questions, matching the sales process, and slimming the tool to a point that ensures credibility while ignoring extraneous items. When it comes to an ROI business case tool, less can be a lot more.