December 5, 2019

Challenging the 80/20 Rule in Technology Sales

What exactly is the “80/20 Rule” and how does it apply to corporate America and to your sales efforts?

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is attributed to the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. It can be applied to a wide variety of phenomena: law and order, healthcare, even to language.

Applying it to the business world, the 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of your company sales come from 20% of your customers.  We could also apply the idea more narrowly to vendor sales motions: 20% of your sales organization may be directly responsible for 80% of company revenue.  And on a micro level, one can say that if a salesperson is tasked with ten sales activities, two of them are most likely to contribute to sales goals.  These are what are often considered high value activities.



October 24, 2019

NPV vs IRR: Which is Best for Comparing Technology Investments?

Image of someone explaining finance concepts to represent NPV vs IRR.
Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

As a business case analyst for technology investments, I’m mindful of how people use and misuse key financial metrics. Metrics like net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), return on investment (ROI), and payback period provide insight into the potential value of investments and how they compare to other options. Yet, it’s important to understand how these metrics work and when they can be misleading, particularly when it comes to NPV vs IRR. (more…)

October 15, 2019

Plan for Success: Include Finance in Your Project

By now, we all understand the value of cross-functional teams at the office.

Regardless of the project (creating a business plan, solving a supply chain issue, investigating a technology acquisition or sale, etc.), by including a diverse set of coworkers, you will create a team  that can bring different insights and experience from all aspects of the company.  The diversity of marketing, sales, and operations are commonly included in new projects, but don’t forget to include finance!  This is a department that should not be overlooked (but often is!).



September 9, 2019

How to Do an ROI Analysis in 4 Steps

Image of steps to illustrate the "4 Steps" to Creating an ROI Analysis.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

A return on investment (ROI) analysis is a useful tool for evaluating a variety of business opportunities. Technology investments, business process projects, and marketing campaigns are just a few examples. When fighting for budget or preparing a cost-justification, knowing how to do an ROI analysis allows you to compare a potential investment to other initiatives or make a go-no-go decision.

While the ROI calculation is simple (ROI = (Total Benefits – Total Costs) / Total Costs), creating a comprehensive ROI analysis (also known as a business case analysis, cost-benefit analysis, or business value assessment) can be complex. But after performing thousands of ROI analyses for clients, we’ve found that you can break down the process into 4 steps:

  1. Discovery
  2. Metrics Gathering
  3. Collaborative Analysis
  4. Executive Presentation

I will review each step, so please read on and use this as a guide. (more…)

August 15, 2019

Navigating a Path to Value in a Complex Selling Environment

There are several new trends in the market that are having a significant impact on how customers want to buy and pay for new technologies:

  • Accounting changes – under ASC 842 / IFRS 16 for end user/lessee, lease obligations are now on book
  • Migration to the cloud – many customers are in the process of moving or planning to move at least some of their workload to the cloud
  • Utility/usage-based/pay-per-use payment schemes

For customers, there are a lot more nuances to consider than just the traditional CapEx vs. OpEx determination, and how much budget is available. Many customers are operating under great uncertainty regarding the number of workloads in scope, and how quickly to migrate to the cloud.  Meanwhile, savvy customers are also trying to optimize value on every dollar they spend regardless of the type of budget.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The implication to technology vendors in this era of increasing complexity is clear: making a successful sale today requires a lot more than just having the best technology at the lowest price.  Vendors who can skillfully combine their technical savvy with the ability to evaluate customer economic and budget constraints in light of the evolving economic requirements are better positioned to increase their batting average, and at the same time gain customers’ trust as a good partner.


July 31, 2019

TCO vs ROI: Which is Best for Making Investment Decisions?

TCO vs ROI represented by a man holding scales.

Financial metrics, like total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI), are fundamental to making asset and technology investment decisions. When you propose an investment, you’re fighting for budget. You need an objective way to demonstrate the value of the proposed purchase. But what can you learn from TCO vs ROI and which metric will help the most?


June 28, 2019

Keeping Up with FASB and IASB Topics, Standards, Codifications and Updates

“Accounting is the language of business…” Warren Buffett

It may not be obvious, but it’s critical for sales and other non-accounting professionals to stay current on new accounting standards, including ongoing updates issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB).  Accounting standards and updates can impact corporate strategy and decision making, including how to best access, use or acquire technology, which is why we pay close attention to accounting.

First, some background on FASB and IASB.  What are these organizations?

The Financial Accounting Standards Board is a private, non-profit organization, standard-setting body whose primary purpose is to establish and improve Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) within the United States in the public’s interest.  New standards are issued by topic and number as Accounting Standard Updates (ASU) and then finalized as Accounting Standards Codification (ASC); older standards were issued as Financial Accounting Standards (FAS), Statement of Position (SOP) modifications and few other acronyms, most of which are being superseded by new ASC standards.  All standards are refined and updated on an ongoing basis. (more…)

June 12, 2019

ROI vs NPV: What Are They and What Do They Mean?

Image of a watch with money to illustrate the "time value of money." This is a key point when looking at ROI vs NPV.
Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

When deciding to buy a new technology or business asset, companies typically evaluate if that investment will “pay for itself” using financial metrics like return on investment (ROI) and net present value (NPV). ROI and NPV matter to both the buyer and seller because they are the foundation of building a business case for the investment. These metrics make it easier to compare investment options that are competing for the given operating and/or capital budgets. So, ROI vs NPV, what exactly are they and what do they tell us? (more…)

May 19, 2019

Private and White Label Vendor Finance in a Shifting Market

Significant changes in the environment have provided an opportunity for software vendors to make it easier for customers to acquire their software:

First, software license models are changing, moving from on-premises perpetual licenses to usage-based subscription models.

Vendor objectives are also changing, moving from a focus on upfront revenue recognition to recurring revenue streams.

Software accounting rules are also changing.  SOP 97-2 has been replaced by IFRS 15 and ASC 985606.

This shifting market has had a marked impact on private label software finance.  Private label financing simply means that the vendor provides the financing directly to their end users.

Changing path
Photo by Kimi Lee at Unsplash


May 6, 2019

The Most Important Skill for Effective Value Selling

In my eight plus years at TFP, I’ve engaged in more value conversations than I care to count.  Most have gone reasonably well; at the end of the process, our value selling team—usually my client, their customer, and me—can usually produce an effective financial analysis that helps the customer understand the potential value of my client’s technology in their environment.

The occasional engagement has gone sideways.  Periodically, I look back at those conversations and wonder what I could have done differently.  In some cases it wasn’t going to end well no matter what I had tried.  It might have been a “hail Mary” ROI to rescue a floundering deal.  Or the customer wasn’t really engaged in the first place, and wasn’t willing or able to devote the time to make the process useful for anyone.

This guy would make a great value seller. Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash