Can your sellers build a business case?

03 December 2015 by Charles Howden

What?!! Is the response we often get when working with sellers on sales improvement projects.

“Why should we open up that can of worms? What’s the business case got to do with it? The buyer said they want it, so why slow things down with a business case analysis” is the theme of the usual objection. So do they have a case?

Consider the pipeline cases that you have that have stalled or that are not progressing, in each of these cases, how firmly established was the business case supporting the buying decision? In this territory, failure to establish the business case, eventually results in failure to advance the opportunity (so much so, that this is an essential component of the qualification stage).

For a complex sales proposition, other decision makers will be involved to whom the seller may not have access. How is the seller’s internal champion going to persuade them? Especially the more detached, rational, analytical buyers; budget holders at the very least, may want to see an ROI calculation. Supporting the sales proposition with a clear business case makes it clear to all, at any stage of their buying process, the rationale that supports the buying decision.

When sellers take the time to explore this area, they also demonstrate to buyers that they actually care about achieving the benefits that they claim, building trust within a climate of greater transparency. They may also gather more information about competitor propositions because when building a business case, comparisons with the status quo, and other available options, are key parts of the discussion. These discussions lead nicely into the value selling piece, which will help sellers defend margin as they reach the negotiation stage of the engagement.

So how hard should it be? Do your sellers need MBAs and business degrees to have these discussions with buyers? In our experience, definitely not. Even complex value propositions are supported by fairly standard business drivers, with recognisable cost saving / revenue generating components. When your sellers understand how these recognisable models apply, it becomes easier for them to help prospects to apply them to their own business context.

Identifying these standard models, builds your sellers’ confidence because they do not need to start from scratch each time. And from a sales management perspective, the information about which standard business model applies, can be captured by your CRM.

So will your sellers be opening a can of worms when they start building a business case? Without some preparation and practise, it’s quite possible. Though when prepared, we’re confident they’ll be able to get the lid back on, and achieve better results from the process.

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