Overcoming the ROI Question

Often when it comes to business decisions, despite your best efforts and holistic explanation of your value offering, prospects only want to know one thing – what is the “ROI” going to be given their investment?

Why the ROI question?

When a prospect asks this of you it usually one of three things:

  1. They are not the decision maker and potentially lack internal credibility – so they need evidence to mount the case for your product
  2. They are not fully convinced on the value that your solution can bring
  3. Their business function is numerically driven

To elaborate on the third point – their role could be highly focused around certain key metrics or there could be internal KPIs around their own function and the activities of their department. One common example are people in demand generation – who are usually only focused on net clicks or net traffic as this is something they are commonly measured on.

Solving ROI queries

Thus you can overcome the ROI question in three key ways:

  1. Find the right decision maker, isolate their pain points and show that middle order stakeholders are also on board
  2. Focus on creating a clear pitch with fantastic supporting materials
  3. If you cannot go beyond the numbers – try and depict a data driven approach that your prospect would understand in their language

ROI Story for Difficult Products/Solutions

Despite the above, many people still say to me – my solution doesn’t have a clear ROI story. This could be a solution for say employee wellness – which can be difficult to measure given the impact of personal variables and lack of adequate tools to measure employee satisfaction.

In this case you can try and paint an ROI story using the following techniques:

  • Relatable ROI – what impact did this have for my other clients? Your evidence may be more anecdotal, but you can focus on wins that you have had with other brands and attempt to depict an ROI story using case studies, facts and testimonials

Example – “We helped company X improve this by Y – you are similar to them and therefore it should help you achieve Y”

  • Predictable ROI – given key numbers, what ROI should you expect? This can be hard for solutions with a less effusive ROI story – but say for instance you are a search engine marketing solution, in terms of hard traffic what kind of traffic could you forecast for your client given their list of key terms and industry

Example – “If you invested $100 into ad spending each month – we estimate we could send you 10 leads”

  • Relative ROI – compared to what you are spending now, how does this compare? This is fantastic for taking business from competitors. By justifying how much they are spending and the potential improvement/feature gain with your solution

Example – “If you are spending X on Salesforce right now – why wouldn’t you spend less with us and get double the features?”

  • Relational ROI – if this was to be implemented, how would it affect other areas of the business? Good for painting a bigger picture and establishing future value

Example – “If we improved sales by 5%, but also opened up the capacity for support & maintenance costs to go down by up to 10% – what would that be worth to you?”


Overcoming the ROI question can be extremely difficult for most people in business. However, if the question arises look at the reasons why it could be rising to the surface and try and quell these by pitching what you do effectively to the right person- with the right supporting evidence and tone given their position. In the situation that you product has an ROI story which is less clear remember the different types of ROI above – relatable, predictable, relative and relational

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube