Welcome to the new world of sales. Now more than ever, your customers expect major bang for the buck. They want to know up front whether their investments will pay for themselves by delivering increased revenue, profits, employee loyalty or customer loyalty. And they won’t just take your word for it anymore. You have to justify their investment by proving you can deliver ROI.

These days, the salespeople who close deals are the ones who can demonstrate the business impact of their solutions. They don’t wait for their customers to ask about ROI. They lead with it. Throughout the sales cycle, they strive to translate expected business results into ROI early and often.

The typical scenario: You conduct a great meeting with a business prospect, engage in intelligent, goal-oriented conversation and exchange new and exciting ideas. The prospect gives you every buying signal you’ve ever heard of, and you leave feeling confident that the deal is done. You write a proposal, review it with your team and include detailed pricing and timelines. Then you send the proposal to your prospect along with a well-written email.

But then, instead of the quick response you expected, you get radio silence. What happened? It could be many things, but the first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not you demonstrated ROI. Did you engage the prospect in an ROI discussion and show him how he would be able to evaluate the ROI of your solutions? Did you make a compelling case for choosing you?

Before you leave that first sales meeting, arrive at an agreement on the criteria for success. Ensure that you can justify your ROI. For example, if you sell software, a prospect might say that his company will have justified their expenditure if they can increase productivity by 20 percent. So, find out how your prospect will know if this goal has been reached. Keep questioning until you both agree on the metrics for their ROI. Then gather your team and put in place the processes that will ensure that success.

Keep talking ROI. Your ROI discussion should continue throughout the sales and implementation processes. How are you measuring progress? How are the results beginning to show themselves? And don’t stop working the ROI angle just because you have handed off the project to your account-management team. This client is yours. Continually manage and monitor their expectations, and strive to prove their investment was worth it. This is the only way to ensure they’ll continue to be your client. And it’s the only way to ensure they’ll be a reliable referral source for the future.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.