Building an ROI Calculator That Always Pays Off

Editor’s note: this post from 2016 needs a hardcore update, like please please don’t use miracle accelerators in place of digging deeper into how to juice the operating levers of your buyer’s business process. But we’re all learning right? 


Nearly every Prospect will at least look at an ROI calculator, but most Reps aren’t taking advantage of this free offer to come in and visit your prospect’s inner sanctum.

A couple of simple steps can turn your simple ROI spreadsheet into a killer qualifying tool while at the same time cementing your value claims with an irrefutable logical progression of A-to-B-to-C.



Make it look good

Using a spreadsheet lets you tweak the model with your Prospect’s data, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be unattractive.

Use 20 pt fonts, hide gridlines and add some branding. You can even have some fun. Just make sure you can still get to the underlying cells so you can tweak the numbers with your Prospect in real-time.

Make it believable

Every part of your ROI calculation should be easy to see how you got there: so show every step, don’t hide variables inside equations and use descriptive labels for each row.

The goal of your calculator design is that if they accept the default variables (like their sales numbers) then there’s an irrefutable chain of small steps that leads to your ROI claim: as they’re led down your path, each step should be easy to believe.

Make sure the first number in the calculator is a number that’s easy to accept and check your math!

Find your secret accelerator

Amazing ROI results normally come from a nearly-hidden percentage variable somewhere in your calculations.

Adjust it one way or the other, and the ROI swings wildly even with reasonable inputs. Make sure you know where your swing variable is and make the default value super-easy to believe.

In the example above, DealPoint improves the win-ratio by just 15%, but that equates to $150,000 with a $1M quota, and a 21,000% return on investment.

Definitely attracts the attention and keeps the conversation moving towards a trial.

Ask qualifying questions

People open up when they’re looking at an ROI calculator, so build in the qualifying questions you want answered into your calculator. Recognizing that you’re asking for sensitive data, be polite when you ask for their numbers and be ready with some reasonable defaults if they’re unwilling to share.

If they do refuse, be respectful of their privacy, and you say you’ll use a number that you’ve seen in their industry. It’s OK to ask if your assumption is close to their actual number, or even if you’re higher or lower than their number, but don’t press them. Even a ballpark figure is valuable at this early stage. Make sure you note that it’s ballpark in your notes so you don’t rely on it later.

DON’T Start with Crazy Defaults

Which defaults you use telegraph the kind of customer you typically work with. If your default is $500 per month spend (say for AdWords), but your prospect spends $500,000 a month, then they’re instantly going to question your ability to service their needs.Also make sure your equations don’t spit out numbers too high to believe; it’s not worth the risk to your credibility and no one likes being laughed at by someone who knows your field better than you seem to when you get an assumption totally wrong.