Overcoming Worn Down Buyer Cynicism

A customer of mine sell big ticket printing kit and software.  It’s the highest price tag in the market, and customers luckily get what they pay for, as it’s considered ‘the best’.  They’re addressing an issue at the moment with RoI business case presentations.

It appears that buyers have become deaf to them.  What seems to have happened is that the industry moved to pitching with such ready-reckoner tools about a decade ago.  Since then every buyer has bought at least one, typically two, cycles of such kit.  And whaddaya know…. the purchase never delivered the magical fiscal benefits promised.  Not even close.  So now, when they see more spreadsheets, their eyes glaze over.

I came across a fellow blogger talking about an element of this related to Michael Moore’s new film. This angle reminds us to validate the figures properly.  The guys I know go to great lengths to do this, even making sure that when they glean the raw data, they emphasise being ‘conservative’ to their prospect.  And yet brick-walls still appear.  Here’s two approaches that I’ve seen lately erode the scepticism:

Sensitivity Analysis – A favourite of break-even case creation, this is where you present your upward growth ‘line’ of returns, yet also take the time to add in alternative scenarios.  This will at the very least make you look different.  These could be based on certain things happening, or simply incorporate a pessimistic or optimistic alternative, say at a percentage of the original line. 

Halve It – I’m indebted to the great Ken Welsh for telling me that whenever he delivers a business case, he expects the prospect to go away and for internal consumption (taking into account their previous history with vendor RoI statements) drop your claims by half.  So, why not mention this as a tactic too – so long as your benefits lowered by 50% still make a resounding case…

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