Using Time Travel to describe the business value of your solution

One sales skill that helps customers accept and understand the impact that a new solution can bring them is the concept of Time Travel! I wish we had a Delorean that you could use to jump into the future and see the benefits of a change to your business, but as a Presales professional, this is an imaginary journey you can take your customer on. 

The movie "Back to the Future" explores in a narrative way the power of time travel, and I feel that this is a very powerful way to use storytelling to help your customer visualize and see the benefits for their business.

First up, most people are in the market for a new solution to get away from a perceived business problem. People are less likely to buy something without a fear of their current pains and worries. So a part of this virtual journey needs to address these problems and pains that will be solved or mitigated by the change.  You need to make the return on their investment real, and make them see beyond the "pain of change" that will be needed to get them there.

One way you can do this is to tell them a story, from the point of view of next year's renewal meeting. These are the points of time (imagined) that you realised value from this investment, and if possible you can demonstrate this with some key visuals from the product.

E.g. If you were selling a car you could tell the buyer a story including the 12 000 miles of comfort & saved £1000s on the costs of rental/transport they achieved after a year of ownership.  They weren't stuck with a faulty gearbox in the middle of nowhere, and didn't need to take two cars on their trip with the whole family. Some of these miles were on a family holiday around Scotland, with great memories and fun, which wouldn't have been easy in their previous vehicle.
Overall you were 10% safer, more reliable and comfortable, and to justify this, you just had a small cost.

If you look at the cost of this - annualized and amortized - this car delivered all this at x pence per mile.

So it is easy to think about this with a car for a family, and you just need to think about this in terms of the business benefits of your product, and the problems your customer wanted to solve.

A few examples you could use depending on product and industry

  • Security products - prevented X large vulnerabilities from exposing your 30 000 customer accounts. When a big vulnerability arrived in their busiest sales season, they were able to keep their retail site running and bringing in more revenue than ever before.
  • Marketing - helped increase your lead generation by 15% resulting in these major logos signing with your company that you failed to previously reach. One of your emerging regions had its first year hitting its targets and sending those people on a rewards trip!
  • Manufacturing - their factory run with an extra 10% efficiency, meaning that they could produce 5500 extra units with the same labour force, and increase product margins overall by 1%.  Additionally none of the bottlenecks that previously caused production outages happened again!
By telling these examples, you help the customer see the true benefits and the problems they currently have going away. 

And don't forget, if you sell this vision to the customer, you then really have to make sure your team can deliver it!