TALKING SALES 126: "How good is your buyer's business case?

John Smibert

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            "A strong buyer's business case enhances the chance of a positive decision" - Interview by John Smibert.

In my last discussion with Bill Carson he talked about how we need to craft a business case together with the prospective customer.

Bill CarsonIn this discussion Bill emphasises that we should then produce a business case that clearly justifies the investment.

He said "If we propose a solution and haven't done a value analysis and created a business case with the buyer, then it's really hard for them to make that decision. In fact, this is where most sellers get pushed down on price, because they haven't determined the real value for the buyer".

See the full discussion below where Bill goes on to explain how to use the business case to justify the emotional decision and how to position it in preparation for negotiations.


Bill Carson is an alchemist in Sales Mastery, Service Excellence and Personal Leadership. He provides Coaching, Training and Consulting.


John: Hello, I'm with Bill Carson again - welcome back, Bill!

Bill: Thanks, John - great to be back here!

John: Bill, we had a great discussion about value propositions last time, and I really loved the way you talked about the fact that it needs to be different for each person, and the relationship between the commercial insight and the value proposition, and the journey you need to take them... the thinking journey you need to take your customer through, or collaboratively with them, to ultimately develop the value proposition.

Bill: Yes, yes.

John: Great message. It really came home to me though that the value proposition is more than one statement, isn't it, or one statement for each individual. There needs to be more depth in this commercial world; they need to understand what the real value from a monetary point of view and profitability point of view is, don't they?

Bill: Yes, absolutely. And I think, again, if we break apart the word "value", then what is it? Value is benefits minus costs. One of the critical components of a salesperson's, sales professional's work in their conversations with buyers is to actually unravel what are the current costs that they're currently experiencing, and what would be the opportunity gains or benefits in a dollar number, and everything can be converted to a dollar. It's critically important, because if a seller brings a solution and hasn't created a value analysis/business case with the buyer/buyers, then it's really hard for them to make that decision. In fact, this is where most sellers get pushed down on price, because they haven't created the value.

Business case

John: So in going through that whole journey we've been talking about so far, the discovery process, the questions you ask, the insight you bring to the table, and then driving through to a concept of a value proposition, it's really not going to stick unless you can have the numbers that prove it.

Bill: Absolutely. And a classic example is some time ago I was working with a particular manufacturing company, and the seller was just always being ~batched~ on price, and then by learning this methodology what he then started to do... He shared a particular example. Price pressure came on, and he unravelled and explored all the value elements in the solution, all the additional things that they could bring, which in the past he just used to give away; now he put a value on all of them and that offset in the buyer's mind what a value analysis was, and he got this substantial deal and didn't give any margin away.

John: And if you do that, it helps enormously, in my experience, when you come to negotiation.  When the customer want to start negotiating individual points of your solution, the value you bring to the table over costs, then it's very easy to say, "Okay, we can un-assemble parts of our solution, but if we take x item out than this is a value we're taking out," and as soon as you say that, they go, "Hang on a second - that's critical for us."

Bill: Yes, exactly. Yes, it's so necessary. Yes, so this is where selling and negotiating come together. People often will kind of bandy around negotiating, but unless you're actually negotiating value elements, then it's a compromised sale and a compromised solution scenario.

John: That's a great point. So, if we said what's the bottom line on this discussion, around putting a business case together and putting numbers on the value, what's your bottom line?

Bill: My bottom line is that everything gets sold on the basis of or purchased on the basis of a value analysis or business case, so every seller should be thinking about how they draw out the current costs of the problems and the situations, and then what the upside opportunities are.

John: And of course we all know selling is selling to people, and emotions get very heavily involved. Even if they emotionally want to get this solution, they need to justify it with real numbers now to make it easy to get it through.

Bill: Exactly, yes. And this is where if you've combined the combination of rational, logical, here's the numbers and the business case, and then here's the emotional reasons why we do it; if you put those two together, you'll significantly increase win rates.

John: Bill, I love it - good insight. Thank you very much!

Bill: Thanks, John - pleasure!


See further discussions with Bill Carson:



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Want to touch base? If you have questions please feel free to contact me - email: john.smibert(at), Phone: +61 404857893 or Skype: john.smibert

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