In A Downturn, ROI Matters

by Ian Campbell April 13, 2020

Well, that happened quickly. 

Coming into 2020, there were rumblings of a slowdown. “Brace yourselves. Turbulence is coming to the world economy, but don’t expect a 2008 redux,” said a Fortune “2020 Crystal Ball” roundup of predictions. (I mean, technically, they were correct in that this is so much worse than 2008.)

Even our incredibly prescient “Top Ten Predictions” (which have a 94 percent hit rate over the past 15 years) didn’t see this coming. 

So here we are in Q2 2020. Everything is terrible and the level of suffering is unimaginable. With that, I’ll spare us all the recap of the COVID-19 hellscape and the importance of perspective language and at least we have our health and all that … it’s all true, but I’m going to give us all a quick pandemic pass and say this: 

It’s an extremely difficult time to market and sell B2B technology. (Not ALL technology, mind you. The following is a sentence that seems more 1998 than 2020, but here we are: “Laptops, monitors and peripherals are flying off the shelves.”)

Anyone who tries to sugarcoat this reality — or paint it as a crisis-fueled opportunity for re-invention —  is lying to themselves or trying to sell you something.

We will get past this. Things may look very different then — but this too shall pass.

But in the meantime, business has to get done. Sales still have to happen now — even as we plan for the return to “normal,” whenever that happens. (And I believe it will happen sooner than later … it has to).

If you’re selling external monitors (or hand sanitizer or bandanas, for that matter) you can probably sit this next part out. 

Otherwise, here’s a few thoughts for selling in this current edition of the new normal:

Value matters more than ever. You need to lead with a return-on-investment message, front and center. How much money will I save if I purchase this solution today? How long will it take me to save that money? Prospects are mentally tapped — their attention is split between the news of the day and figuring out how to keep the doors open. Put the ROI out there, front and center — and back it with real data from real customers.  Not only will that value-centric massage make it easier for your prospect to understand, it will make it much easier for your prospect to justify to management, especially when in-person persuasion is no longer an option.   

Tangible sells. Esoteric does not. This is not the time for esoteric, forward-thinking, next-generation thought leadership. It’s also not the time to define a new category. Be the best, most easily-understood widget — one that delivers near-term, demonstrable value — in a well-defined bucket. Solutions that help cut costs and streamline operations will be the focus for the near term, not new or untested ideas.

In this new environment, our analysts are continuing to do what we do best — using Nucleus’ ROI approach to generate research that showcases the real value of solutions.