Cost Savings: Simply Communicating Them Is Not Enough

In the age of the customer, communicating business value to prospects and customers that is valuable, relevant and differentiating in every interaction is the key challenge for sales professionals. And equipping them the right way is then, of course, sales enablement’s challenge. Today, let’s discuss a specific challenge that’s coming up more often than expected: Do cost savings represent business value?

In general, cost savings are a translation of the features and functions of your products and solutions into a financial equivalent.

Cost savings express in financial terms what a product, a service or a solution DOES (in this case, saving money, based on its functionality). In the rare case where your key decision maker is a departmental head who is focused only on cost reduction, and at the same time is not interested in what to do with the cost savings, then you could get away with simply communicating cost savings. But this kind of decision maker will soon be extinct.

Cost savings by themselves don’t express what they actually MEAN to the customer’s business goals, except the goal of just saving money. Cost savings just tell the financial story from the vendor’s perspective: “this is what our product does” rather than “this is what it means to you.”

As soon as a business goal is about EBIT, EBITDA, growth goals, margins, or cash flow, etc., you need a very different approach. In all those situations cost savings are merely the necessary prerequisites to get to actual business value that resonates with specific buyer roles. And that requires a few additional steps to translate the cost savings into the customer’s business context and their desired business outcomes. Depending on the buyer roles’ functional backgrounds, these business outcomes may be very different.

Steps to translate cost savings into the customer’s desired business outcomes

  • Your starting point:
    You understand the specific business challenge the customer wants to master, and understand the desired business outcomes each involved buyer wants to achieve. Additionally, you have built a future vision of success with the customer. Based on the configured solution, you have calculated the potential cost savings of that solution.
  • Understand the customer’s business case:
    You know the desired business outcomes of each of your involved buyers. Now, take the business outcome of your key decision maker and have a conversation to understand the broader business case. And that requires that you really understand the relevant business metrics: what they mean, how they are calculated, and, most importantly, what issues impact these metrics.
  • Connect the dots between your cost savings and the buyers’ desired business outcomes:
    Now it’s time to discover how your cost savings fit into this business case and how the cost savings contribute to the desired business outcomes. The most important step in this process is to understand all the different steps that have to be made by the customer’s organization with and without your solution to achieve their desired outcomes. And during this process, you can discover even more opportunities to add additional services to create even more value for the customer to achieve. So, from a cross- and up-selling perspective, this is an essential step to increase your average deal size and the value you can create for your customer.

 

Sales enablement teams have to equip their sales forces with the relevant tools, methods, skills, and messaging approaches to equip them with everything they need to get from communicating cost savings to creating business value.

Questions for you:

  • How do your salespeople engage with prospects and customers?
  • How do you enable them to have conversations based on actual business values?

 

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