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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  December 17, 2015

How to Determine ROI on Intangible Deliverables

If you are selling intangible solutions, one of your biggest challenges will be to help clients determine the ROI (return on investment). I run into this all the time. Market strategy and branding are intangibles and therefore the deliverables can look fuzzy compared to other offers in implementation.

The problem: potential clients compare apples to oranges. Example: an author is looking at two options for their book: 1) branding to make the book generate more consulting opportunities; or, 2) a social media program that will generate likes and twitter followers. They don’t have the budget to do both at the same time. The latter has tangible results: you can see the number of likes and the increase in followers. But the former attracts more opportunities; and you still have to go through the sales process. There is a chance you may not get the assignment. So…which has more value?

Yes, I am biased. Mainly because I get too many calls from authors whose books got free speaking invites and nothing else. But it’s still hard to give up the false-positive tangible results in order to get what you really want.

Related: the value of intangibles

Here’s how to help clients get out of this dilemma: reverse engineer the outcomes. Let’s go back to the example. If business growth is the real goal of the book, then increasing opportunities would be a good outcome. So would a shorter sales cycle. Help the client make a list of the outcomes needed for the goal.

Next step: ask the “going to the dark side” question. If you get twitter followers who like your book but can’t buy any consulting services, how does that impact your outcome? Conversely, if your book is positioned to showcase your best strategic advantage, what impact would that have on giving your book to prospects? Which scenario generates more opportunities for growth?

What intangibles like branding and market strategy really do is drive the effectiveness of what many folks already do. What clients really get is clarity and speed. By changing the way buyers perceive your work, you get better results from the promotional efforts already underway.

Take your prospects through this two-step process then ask them: are these benefits worth more than what I’m charging? If so, go for it. If not, don’t. But remind them: what we do today to pave the way comes to fruition tomorrow.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.