Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Beyond Excel: Smart Options for Estimating ROI

By Richard Hamje, Senior Strategy Consultant, Mainstay
When sales reps are on the hunt, one of their best weapons is the tried-and-true Excel spreadsheet. Time and again, they’ll spin up a quick spreadsheet to show customers how much they’ll save – or earn – from investing in their solution.
The method has proven to be pretty successful, and sales teams the world over have copied this simple technique.
I agree that Excel spreadsheets are quick and convenient. I’ve built thousands of them over the years. But they also come with their share of problems, including:
  • Lack of security. If you use Excel on your laptop, you may be holding proprietary customer data in a relatively unsecure environment, exposing your company to business risk.
  • Poor version control. Sales reps may be using outdated data sets or old messaging, leading to inconsistent or misleading results.
  • Limited scalability. When you build an ROI estimation tool for a specific user or customer, it’s often difficult to use the same tool for other customers.
  • Data loss. Although your sales reps may have collected a lot of valuable data in their spreadsheets, it’s generally fragmented and unavailable to corporate staff to help drive sales and marketing programs.

What can you do to address these shortcomings? Custom web development is one option, but it’s not cheap. When you’re dealing with time or budget constraints, many people will choose to simply live with Excel’s limitations.
But there is another option – the hybrid cloud solution. It takes only a few weeks to put in place and it retains most of the functionality of Excel while giving you most of the benefits of custom web development.
There are trade-offs. Often you won’t get a fully customized user interface, and not every Excel feature is supported in the cloud. But if you avoid using add-ins and macros for the ROI calculations, you may be able to have you cake and eat it too.
Here’s a rundown of the three types of ROI tools and their relative merits.
Capability
Excel
Custom Web Tool
Hybrid Cloud Tool
Universal availability
ü
ü
ü
Auditable formulas
ü
X
ü
Cut-and-paste presentations
ü
ü
ü
Cost of development
$
$$$
$$
Speed of development
Weeks+
6 months+
Excel + weeks
Ad hoc calculations for corner cases
ü
X
X
Data Security
Weak
ü
ü
Usage statistics
X
ü
ü
Data collection for benchmarking
X
ü
ü
Version control
X
ü
ü
Integration to CRM
$$$
$$$
ü
Connect internal tools (quotes, etc.)
$$$
$$$
$
Device agnostic
X
ü
ü
Interactive visualizations
X
ü
ü
Attractive user interface & navigation
$$$
ü
ü
Entirely custom user interface
X
ü
X
Secure collaboration
X
$$$
ü
User training requirement
High
Low
Low
Secure use by partners
X
ü
ü
Ability to attach related documentation
X
ü
ü
Usable offline
ü
X
X

Looking to show your customers how much value they can realize from your solution? We’d love to show you how you can empower your sales teams with easy-to-use ROI estimation tools that can accelerate deals. For more information, visit www.mainstaycompany.com/sales-consulting.