It was the summer of 2015, and I was a smitten new Dad. But after a couple of weeks of sleepless nights, I was secretly delighted when I was asked to join this sales opportunity in California as the value engineer. Ah – the thought of a full nights sleep in a hotel bed!
It’s game day!
The opportunity was a huge one, at a Fortune 500 company. Getting this logo would mean champagne celebrations, and we had brought a bus full of experts to wow the prospect at the all important Go / No-Go meeting. I had spent days on building a robust value model, clearly articulating how we calculated the return on investment our awesome product would deliver. All the NPV and IRR assumptions laid out well enough to impress a CFO.
My talk track was well rehearsed, and I had this nervous excitement going into the prestige slide – the whopping ROI number. I had over-prepared on the objection handling front, surely I was going to smash this and be a hero!
But, instead – the economic buyer just had this look of disgust on his face, almost like he has swallowed a bad oyster.
And he looked straight at me and said 2 things:
- “MG, you haven’t really understood the challenges that we are looking to solve with your solution”.
- “If every software vendor like you that walked through these doors delivered on this ROI promise, my P&L would have like zero cost”.
My value lesson that day
I learnt one of the most important lessons of my career that day – value comes from solving customer challenges. If you can’t uncover those challenges and build consensus around them, your ROI number has no credibility.
What I did about it
I understood that sophisticated ROI calculators are the wrong approach to value selling. Years later I co-founded Cuvama to enable B2B SaaS companies to scale value selling efforts by focusing on deep upfront value discovery. Learn about Cuvama’s unique outcomes-centric approach here.