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The ROI of Softer Stuff

Revenue improvement. Profit increases. Cost reductions. Efficiencies.

These are all tangible, measurable improvements that your product, service, or solution can produce. They make it possible for you to generate and share an ROI with your client. As important as it is to produce a business case, these aren’t the only factors buyers consider when making decisions. They don’t move you to trusted advisor, consultative salesperson, and Level 4 Value Creator status.

Trust is soft. There isn’t a great way to measure it. But without trust nothing that you present really matters. What do you believe your dream client believes the ROI on trust to be?

Caring, like trust, is soft. Your dream client will never list “caring” in a row on a spreadsheet and score you against your competitor (they won’t do that with trust, either). But when your dream client makes a decision, how much they believe you care about them and their challenges is a factor they weigh heavily. If you don’t believe this is true, share with them how much commission you hope to make on their sale and see how it changes your relationship.

Business acumen and situational knowledge (or in the common vernacular, insights) are too soft to be measured. But people in positions of authority value people with the ability to help them deal with their most complex business challenges. They value people with ideas. They trade lower price for greater insights. They trade a marginally better ROI for real relationships of value.

Collaboration isn’t a metric (at least not one I’ve ever seen). But you are being judged by how easy you are to do business with and how open you are to helping your dream client adjust your solution to precisely fit their needs. They value your ability to help them build consensus, and they appreciate being armed to have high value conversations within their own organization.

None of this is to say that your financial ROI isn’t important. It is important, and critically so in some deals. But so is the softer stuff that gives you the opportunity to better develop the ROI, to position yourself as the right partner, to drive a wedge between you and your competitors, and to frame your solution in a way that resonates with your dream client contacts.


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