Nxt Generation ROI







Is it worth it to create ROI analysis for your opportunities?

As a B2B sales professional, your decision whether or not to invest time in creating a business case depends on the amount of effort required versus your expected return.  And since today’s prevailing paradigm is that creating a unique business case is a difficult task, most of your opportunities probably don’t have one.


On the other hand, your prospects have a limited amount of funds and they will (or should) only invest in those projects that promise the highest yield.  They will always compare your proposal with a multitude of others, and if you do not discuss a financial justification with the decision maker then someone else will.

So how do we solve this dilemma?  By disrupting the status quo and using technology to decrease the amount of effort required.

When you can generate detailed business case documents in a matter of minutes for all your opportunities, you will have better conversations at the highest levels and your close rate will increase.

The ROI of ROI then becomes undeniable.





Super Charged Sales Effectiveness

I often struggle with the approaches of communicating value.  I have seen really great examples of how value selling has changed a deal for the positive and I have seen examples where value selling has turned the deal on its side.  In most cases, the reason for the conversation around value going sideways was because “the expert” wasn’t in the room and the sales team got out over their skis.

This can be for any number of reasons but the main reason I have seen is due to the model used to calculate value being too complex and hard to follow.  Well if your sales team cannot communicate it, how on earth will the customer ever be able to take ownership of it and sell when you cannot be in the room?  Let’s face it they can’t and herein lies the problem.  As someone who spends every hour of the day helping companies move the ability to sell value into the sales team (and even the channel in many cases) I have spent many a sleepless night trying to come up with a solution to that specific problem.


Regardless of the model, ROI Calculator, TCO Calculator, etc. If you do not keep the way you communicate value to the customer SIMPLE, CONSISTENT, AND TRANSPARENT, you run the risk of the having a sub-optimal outcome of all of your hard work.  So how do we do this?

  • Land on a consistent way of calculating value at a high level:  Please comment and I would be happy to give you some thoughts on how I approach this part of the problem.  If you can get to a point where anyone can understand you benefits, then you have accomplished the goal
  • Stay the course: One of the biggest challenges to adoption is a moving target, especially when it comes to sales people.  They do not have the time nor inclination to play “follow the bouncing ball” when it comes to their sales conversations
  • No Black Box: I have seen this with many tools (home grown and commercial).  The simple fact is if you cannot trace both the numbers and the rationale then you will never be able to survive without the “expert” to explain even the basics.  That simply DOES NOT scale

If you do this correctly, you can have the experts focus on the truly challenging multi-million dollar or very strategic snowflake deals and transform you sales team into a force that can differentiate not just what they sell but how they sell it!

Competitive Differentiation – Uniques, Semi-Uniques and Me Too’s

Value Selling Success Stories 



Competitive Differentiation – Uniques, Semi-Uniques and Me Too’s

Normally when we think of the unique attributes of what we sell, we are looking for something that establishes meaningful competitive differentiation. We do it, they don’t, it matters. Selling is so much better when you can hang your hat on real competitive differentiation. If I have it, the competitors don’t and it matters to the buyer, that’s the perfect selling storm.

However, the selling world rarely works that way. Buyers rarely believe in UNIQUE that way. This is a story of a competitive differentiator and how it turned a niche player into a leader.

So to level set, here are my definitions. These are the real world:

  • UNIQUE – We do it, they don’t, it matters.
  • SEMI-UNIQUE – We both do it, but there’s a meaningful differentiation in our capability.
  • ME-TOO – We both do it and there’s no meaningful differentiation.

Realistically, the vast majority of value that sellers deliver are SEMI-UNIQUE and ME-TOO.

So here’s the story, it’s a great one. In the early 1980’s, the DBMS market was dominated by IBM, Cullinet, and Cincom, each with several thousand customers. ADR acquired an upstart technology branded Datacom, with about 200 customers. In addition to shoring up the Datacom’s “industrial strength”, we needed a differentiator to get us into opportunities. To change the rules of the game. If not, we’d be the 4th (or 5th) horse in a 2 or 3 horse race.

                                                                                                         Otherwise known as irrelevant.

There was a technology “religious” war brewing around Relational DBMS, 4th Generation languages, end-user tools and other technological capabilities, a mind-numbing panoply (or quagmire) of technologies. But one of the biggest issues for database projects was you had to re-write your applications to get the benefits of the DBMS and wonderful new tools. Business executives wanted capabilities immediately, not in a year or 2 (or 3 or 4). So the great minds behind Datacom (see below!) built a disruptive technology call “VSAM Transparency”.

VSAM-T enabled organizations to move data for existing applications into Datacom/DB and then run those application programs unchanged. Indeed, the programs often ran faster!!!

In a matter of a couple months, a company could be using super-advanced tools and meeting business needs. While there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from some database purists, VSAM-T was a game-changer, a pure UNIQUE differentiator for a couple of years.

And it helped put Datacom/DB on the map. In just a couple years, ADR caught up with IBM and Cullinet, and was a player in virtually every DBMS evaluation.

And for us sales reps, VSAM-T gave us a PROVOCATIVE, CHALLENGING, HYPOTHESIS capability to align to what business execs wanted, and to be this guy:

UNIQUES matter when you can find them, but SEMI-UNIQUE is more realistic, and has the same or similar impact. In a couple of years, IBM and Cullinet had VSAM-Transparency capabilities, and tried to make it a ME-TOO conversation. Before Lee Corso used the phrase, ADR responded with “not so fast my friend” and continued to build on the differentiated capabilities of our VSAM-T versus the competitors.

The key point:  find UNIQUE or SEMI-UNIQUE competitive differentiators and tie them to value and outcomes for your customers. If you want to speak the language of business (it’s the only language that matters) that means converting them into –  dollars, time and quality.  When you do, you can go from not even being in the game, to the leader of the pack.

Click here for another success story about the quantified $$$ value of competitive differentiation and how it impacts renewals and upsell with existing customers.These are some of the incredible professionals who gave us Datacom and VSAM-T.    If there’s a software hall of fame, they should be in it:

Chuck                                      Orrin                                          Kevin                               Joe Lynn
                                   Stevens                                     Shuma                            Not Pictured
Rest in Peace                                                                                                            

Like Father, Like Son — These Duos Went from Family to Startup Partners


It’s one thing to take over the family business. But it’s another thing to go straight into a new business venture with your dad. This presents a whole new set of challenges — like not knowing if you should call your partner by his name or ‘dad’ when in the office, or keeping business away from the dinner table.

These three Father-Son duos discuss how they decided to go into business together, the benefits of working with your biggest ally, and the challenges they’ve found along the way as they navigate interchanging from one close relationship to another.

Jim and Jake Berryhill

Jim is the CEO of DecisionLink, a marketing, sales and customer success platform. His son, Jake, is the Business Development Manager.

Is DecisionLink your first business venture with Jim (your dad)?

Although DecisionLink is the first time I’ve been directly employed by my dad, he taught me much about business growing up. As an example, when I was about 15, he helped me buy a pressure-washer and start a summer business. He taught me how to go door to door, make phone calls, etc. to drive business, scope and quote jobs, negotiate good deals for myself and the importance of customer satisfaction.

Why did you decide to work together?

It was toward the very early stages of my career. I had had one previous full-time job for a small bio-tech company. Jim founded DecisionLink and within about a year was able to offer me a job. He has always been a terrific mentor and with his success in business, combined with my desire for a tech industry job it was pretty much a no-brainer.

What are some of the unique obstacles of being in business with your dad?

Truthfully not many. I get asked this all the time, and my answer is always the same. From my impression he treats me as he would any employee and very fairly, which I greatly appreciate it. There is always going to be a bond he and I share that he doesn’t have with other employees, but we both do our best to keep things professional while at work. For me, a particular obstacle would be that the time I spend with him on a daily basis may have a negative impact on spending as much time with him outside of work, but I try and not let that have too much effect.

How do you play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses?

I certainly am motivated to be more of a grinder because of him. On the flip-side I would say I think he has learned from me in various ways when it comes to enjoying life as it comes and goes. I have more of my mothers attributes in that regard, which I’m sure he recognizes and loves about her. If I could be as organized and meticulous as he is, I won’t have much to worry about!

Alan and Phil Pledger

Alan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Landing Lion, and his Dad, Phil is the CTO. Landing Lion is a Landing Page creator for marketers.

Why did you decide to work together?

Outside of consulting work, Landing Lion is our first real business venture together. Depends on what you define as “work.” We’ve always worked closely together for as long as I can remember, project after project. I always knew I wanted to work with him on a business, but we only got serious about it after I graduated from college in 2012.

What are some of the unique obstacles of being in business with your dad?

Separating work from family becomes near impossible. I miss being able to come to my parents house and escape from all the real world stresses and enjoy family time. I also find that working with your family is not always perceived as a positive from the outside. I’m sure there are some nightmare stories about getting involved in a business with family members, and I find myself having to tiptoe around this fact more often than not.

What are some of the unique benefits of being in business with your dad?

The biggest benefit that first comes to mind is trust. I believe that the trust and transparency that exists within a family can spread throughout an organization and have tremendous effects. With that trust, we have been given the freedom to fail, to learn, to be honest with each other, and to grow.

How do you play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses?

We actually complement each other well, from a technical coding standpoint and a personality standpoint. I am an extroverted creative who specializes in the front end, and my dad is an analytical introvert who specializes in the back end. I move fast and break things, and he is slow and meticulous. I am a risk taker and idealistic, while he is cautious and a realist. In fact, we are actually pretty opposite from one another. We don’t always see eye to eye on every issue, but that’s a good thing.


Kyle and Andy Williams

Andy is the President of Zypp Technologies, and his son, Kyle, is the Digital Product Manager. Zypp gives physical therapists instant and configurable rehab programs with trackable progression data to improve evidence-based outcomes. Zypp Technologies is based out of Atlanta Tech Village and this Q&A originally appeared on the ATV blog.

Why did you decide to work together?

We have both played sports our whole lives and have been through many a rehab session. Based on past experiences, we identified a vulnerability in the way Physical Therapy clinics were tracking the results of their patients’ workouts, particularly with resistance band use. We sensed there was an opportunity to provide PTs with more evidence-based feedback which would lead to smarter programming and improved outcomes, as well as a lower likelihood of re-injury. Thus was born Zypp Technologies. We both saw an opportunity in the marketplace and with a common vision we set out on another journey together.

What’s it like being all-in with a startup AND your family?

Nerve-wracking at times. Fun all the time. It’s encouraging to know you have someone so close in it every day with you. We don’t want to let each other down. Communication is the key to making it work. We are able to say things about challenges and direction that others may not want to say or want to address so quickly or in such a direct manner. It can also be stressful as the deadlines, customer requirements/demands and financial requirements may not all be aligned at the time. Also, remembering to call him Andy instead of Dad!

What is the best thing about working with each other?

Being able to work everyday to build a company with and learn from someone who has experienced so much success. The fact that that person also happens to be my dad is a great bonus.

One of the greatest things about working with my son is being able to see the amazing professional growth that he is experiencing. It is so gratifying when clients pull me aside to tell me how much they enjoy working with him and have full confidence in him managing their projects and account – and I get to experience this daily!

The Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Ashton Kutcher Visits DecisionLink

Nxt Generation ROI


A couple weeks ago, DecisionLink had the opportunity to spend time with Ashton Kutcher @aplusk.

A well-known actor in TV (“The 70’s Show”) and movies (“Jobs”), he is also a producer of note (“Punk’d”). More importantly to me, as   co-founder of Thorn and supporter of many other organizations, Ashton is a powerful and committed activist in the anti-human trafficking arena, something I greatly admire.

Ashton is also a high-tech investor of note, and that was our conversation. He asked me to give our elevator pitch which went something like this:

“Buyers make purchase decisions based on business value, yet sellers are seldom able to quantify, articulate, competitively differentiate and then defend the value propositions of their proposals…research says only about 8-10% of the time. This is due to the absence of a system to enable those capabilities. The result is sub-optimal account-based marketing, low lead-to-opportunity conversions, mediocre close rates & deal values against forecasts and high customer churn. DecisionLink built the first system to automate Value Selling. Our customers like VMware, ACI, Equifax, Caterpillar, Skillsoft and more impact every area of the “Customer Journey”, Marketing, Sales and Customer Care.”

Ashton then proceeded to ask a series of insightful questions, a few went to the very heart of what we do at DecisionLink, why it matters and what our challenges are.

AK:  What do you mean by automation and “system”? How do companies do it now?

JB:  Currently this function is almost always performed by “Value Analysts”. There’s not much automation, repeatability, etc. Additionally, task complexity requires the Value Analyst’s engagement throughout the process. Think of the automobile. In 1900, there were 5000 autos in the US, hand built. With the application of automation and the production assembly line, 500,000 autos per year were being manufactured by 1915. With DecisionLink Value Cloud, our customers create 500 value props or more annually per Value Analyst versus 50-80 manually.

AK:  It sounds like you have a cookie-cutter approach. Isn’t every prospect company different?

JB:  Yeah, that’s where the auto metaphor fails. Henry Ford said you could have the Model T any color you like, as long as it’s black (laughter). Cookie-cutter doesn’t work here. The heart of Value Cloud is the first repository designed specifically for Value Objects. Those are expressions of value that ultimately have an economic result. Value Objects are multi-dimensional, for instance, the value for “labor cost” can vary from industry to industry, from use case to use case and between geographic regions. Additionally, a seller’s “competitively differentiated value” varies from competitor to competitor. Two-dimensional tabular representations don’t cut it, that’s the reason the Value Analysts will have a unique spreadsheet for every account. One of our customers estimated over 400 potential scenarios (10 industries x 5 geo’s x 4 use cases x 2 competitors). The Value Repository accommodates multiple dimensions within a single model, solving that problem. That, by the way, was a hard as heck technology to build.

AK:  Ok, but you talk about the sales reps carrying the ball instead of Value Analysts. That doesn’t seem practical. Isn’t the Value Analyst’s knowledge still needed, or are you eliminating their jobs?

JB:  Sure their knowledge is needed. In the example I cited, the knowledge from the Value Analyst and others is built into the Repository. That’s not a one-time exercise either. But to produce for a single account, the sales rep simply identifies the account, product(s) being sold, industry for the account, use case, GEO, competitor and boom…an initial estimate is produced along with sales ready assets for the rep to communicate and share with the account. Very specific for the 1 in 400 situations that account fit into. That work alone would take a Value Analyst a few days or more to produce, if it could be done at all. Back to the autos metaphor, there aren’t less mechanics today than when cars were made by hand!

AK:  But the sales rep is now going to present that? Isn’t that what the Value Analyst does?

JB:  That’s a big hurdle. We developed training and a workflow called the Value Deal Desk to make sure sales executes effectively. It’s a process. That said, every selling methodology trains sales reps to do this. Challenger, Command of the Message, Solution Selling, etc. All of them. It’s not like this is new to the sales team, they just haven’t had the content, which we give them. Back to the automobile metaphor, virtually everybody can drive because everybody has a car. With DecisionLink automation, every sales rep has a “car”, that is, value proposition content, for every account and opportunity. By the way, if the Value Analysts are now covering lots more deals. Everybody wins.

AK:  How do the customers of your customers respond?

JB:  Generally, great. Think about it. The end customer has a project under consideration. His or her project is competing for funds with many other projects. If the end customer is able to quantify, articulate and defend that project against others, the project has a better chance for funding. The CFO of one end customer said, “this is
the best business case I’ve ever seen from a vendor, it’s clear and easy to understand.” The CIO of another said, “I get it. Move the priority up and get this funded now.” A side benefit for the seller is that if an end customer won’t engage in the value conversation, there’s probably no deal there.
There was more conversation, particularly around “account based marketing” and the ability to personalize, a really rich area of impact.

It was cool to meet Ashton and spend some time. He’s a really smart guy who had me on my toes. Very interesting that his questions were at the core of the seller:buyer dynamic, and ratified that every seller ought to be concerned and doing something about this area.