I was in a meeting the other day with an IT Director at a software company who ask me just what his firm would gain by providing speech to text for voicemail to their outside sales team and if the benefits were worth the $4 per user monthly price we were asking. I replied without skipping a beat that the answer was not only yes, but it is a complete no-brainer no matter how you approach the justification. “Convince me,” he said.
We started looking at what other customers were saying and looked at polling samples of 150 customers. Customer satisfaction was very high: a 9.4 average on a scale of zero to ten. Customer comments indicated not only high satisfaction but clear productivity benefits. The people who benefited most visibly were sales people and operations personnel tasked with new sales and customer retention. A few comments from the survey:
- “It’s great for me since I am traveling more than half of the time, and that’s all international. I can see if any important messages have been left without checking VM, which can be costly or impossible while abroad.”
- “We’ve gotten rave reviews about the new tools, especially from our ‘power users’ in the field, who really appreciate speed and efficiency for their communications. Overall I’d estimate that we have increased productivity of our people in the New York area by at least 15%.” – Craig Cuyar, CIO, Cushman & Wakefield
Looking at the opportunity from a cost perspective, assume the average outside sales person for the company compensation quota was at $100,000, where the weekly cost of the employee is $2,000. If you increase productivity by one week per year, a savings of $2,000 is realized against a $48 cost. That is a 40X ROI. The Director replied that “soft” dollar arguments seldom gains management’s attention and is often a tough sell unless it had been started in the “C” suite. He did see value in speech to text and asked for a more creative approach to justify the expenditure.
Next, we put the $4 a month cost into perspective against the total cost of equipping their outside sales people with a business line, mobile device, email and laptop. Pretty much the standard tools of the trade. We opened up a spreadsheet and did a little math. Below is the list of monthly costs we calculated “all in” to equip an outside sales person with telephone, mobile device and email communications:
It conservatively costs over $220 per month to equip an outside sales person with basic communication tools. Adding speech to text for $4 per month turned out to be an “immaterial” cost increase. The Director was warming, he wanted the feature for himself, but needed more ammo.
I asked him how about looking at from a revenue perspective instead. If a sales person produces $10,000 a week in contribution margin (as they did in the case of this company) then by adding speech to text to the road warrior tool kit, the company could expect an additional $10,000 to drop to the bottom line against a $48 annual cost per sales person. That comes to whopping 208 X return!
I asked him how his VP of sales would feel about that. He wasn’t quite at “no-brainer” but getting much closer.
We ran the spreadsheet by an accounting manager in the company who agreed that the cost would be considered “immaterial” from his perspective and didn’t see it as an issue if the VP of sales wanted it. He said sales people spend more each day on coffee and knew this to be true since he processes all the expense reports.
Emboldened by that comment we ran the scenario by the VP of sales who we “bumped” into while ironically getting some coffee. I showed him speech to text on my iPhone and told him how our sales team used it. His response was “$4 per month? It is a no-brainer! Get it. ”
I just love being right…