Don’t be fooled by ROI talk from a salesperson.

I can’t stand it when salespeople try to sell the idea of ROI as something you’ll get in the future! It’s not only inaccurate, but it’s also misleading, and it makes me so frustrated! ROI is a backward-looking metric that calculates the return on investment based on the initial investment and the net profit.

It does not consider the timing of cash flows, which means it may not accurately reflect the potential performance of an investment over time. Instead, salespeople should be talking about IRR. This is a forward-looking metric that calculates the annualized rate of return based on an investment’s future cash flows and considers the timing of cash flows and the duration of the investment. IRR is a more accurate metric for evaluating the performance of an investment and for comparing the profitability of different investments.

A salesperson discussing ROI (Return on Investment) may not fully understand what it is if they are not familiar with the concept of the time value of money and its impact on the profitability of an investment. ROI is a simple metric that measures the return on investment as a percentage of the initial investment. It does not consider the timing of cash flows. IRR (Internal Rate of Return) is a more complex metric that considers the timing of cash flows and the duration of the investment; it is a more accurate metric to evaluate the performance of an investment.

Additionally, a salesperson may not fully understand the net present value (NPV) and how it relates to ROI and IRR. NPV is a financial metric that measures the difference between cash inflows’ present value and cash outflows’ present value. A salesperson who doesn’t understand the concept of NPV may not be able to calculate the ROI or IRR of a project accurately and may not fully understand the impact of the discount rate on the present value of future cash flows.

#### Furthermore, a salesperson may not be familiar with the different types of cash flows (operating, investing, financing) and how they affect the performance of an investment. They may not be able to accurately predict the cash flows associated with a project and, therefore, cannot accurately calculate the ROI or IRR.

In summary, a salesperson discussing ROI may not fully understand the concept if they are not familiar with the time value of money, net present value, cash flows, and the difference between ROI and IRR. This can lead to inaccurate conclusions about the performance of an investment.

Another way to differentiate ROI and IRR is by considering how they look at the investment. ROI is considered a backward-looking metric, as it looks at the past performance of an investment and calculates the return based on the initial investment and the net profit. In contrast, IRR is considered a forward-looking metric, as it looks at the future cash flows of investment and calculates the rate of return based on these cash flows and the initial investment.

Because IRR is a forward-looking metric, it considers the timing of cash flows and the investment duration. This means that it can provide a more accurate picture of the potential performance of an investment over time and can be used to compare the profitability of different investments. In contrast, ROI does not consider the timing of cash flows.

#### Another way to differentiate ROI and IRR is by considering how they look at the investment. ROI is considered a backward-looking metric, as it looks at the past performance of an investment and calculates the return based on the initial investment and the net profit. In contrast, IRR is considered a forward-looking metric, as it looks at the future cash flows of investment and calculates the rate of return based on these cash flows and the initial investment.

Because IRR is a forward-looking metric, it considers the timing of cash flows and the investment duration. This means that it can provide a more accurate picture of the potential performance of an investment over time and can be used to compare the profitability of different investments. In contrast, ROI does not consider the timing of cash flows, which means it may not accurately reflect the potential performance of an investment over time.

Additionally, IRR can help to determine the point at which an investment starts generating a positive return, also known as the breakeven point. This is impossible with ROI as it doesn’t consider an investment’s cash flow timing or duration.

In summary, ROI is a backward-looking metric that calculates the return on investment based on the initial investment and the net profit. IRR is a forward-looking metric that calculates the annualized rate of return based on an investment’s future cash flows and considers the timing of cash flows and the duration of the investment. IRR is a more accurate metric for evaluating the performance of an investment and for comparing the profitability of different investments.

## Don’t be fooled by ROI talk from a salesperson.

ROI (Return on Investment) and IRR (Internal Rate of Return) are both financial metrics used to evaluate the performance of an investment. However, they are not the same thing and are often misused or confused with one another.

- One common example of misuse is when people use the term ROI to describe a project’s profitability when referring to the IRR. For example, “The ROI for this project is 20%.” In this case, the individual is likely referring to the IRR, which measures the annualized rate of return for an investment.
- Another example is when people use ROI to compare the profitability of different investments when IRR would be more appropriate. For example, “Investment A has a higher ROI than Investment B.” IRR would be more appropriate in this case as it considers the timing of cash flows, whereas ROI does not.
- A third example is when people use ROI to evaluate the performance of a long-term investment when IRR would be more appropriate. For example, “The ROI for this real estate investment is 8%.” IRR would be more appropriate as it considers the money’s time value and the investment’s duration.

## ROI Calculation: (Net Profit / Total Investment) x 100

IRR Calculation: The internal rate of return (IRR) is the discount rate that makes the net present value (NPV) of all cash flows from a particular project equal zero. It is the rate at which the sum of all future cash flows equals the initial investment.

It’s important to note that ROI and IRR are different metrics and should be used appropriately. Misusing these terms can lead to inaccurate conclusions about the performance of an investment.

Discount rate: A discount rate is the interest rate used to determine the present value of future cash flows. It accounts for the time value of money, which states that a dollar received today is worth more than a dollar received in the future. A higher discount rate will result in a lower present value of future cash flows and vice versa.

Net Present Value (NPV): NPV is a financial metric that measures the difference between cash inflows’ present value and cash outflows’ present value. It is used to determine whether an investment will generate a positive or negative return. A positive NPV indicates that the investment will generate a return greater than the cost, while a negative NPV indicates the opposite.

Cash Flows: Cash flows refer to the inflow and outflow of cash that results from an investment. Inflows include revenue from the investment, while outflows include costs associated with the investment. The timing and amount of cash flows are important factors in evaluating the performance of an investment.

In summary, ROI and IRR are metrics used to evaluate the performance of an investment, but they are not the same thing. ROI measures the return on investment as a percentage of the initial investment, while IRR is the annualized rate of return that considers the timing of cash flows. It is important to use the right metric depending on the situation and not to confuse them. Discount Rate, NPV, and Cash Flows are related concepts that are also important in evaluating an investment’s performance.

## Some analogies to help

- Comparing apples to oranges: Just like comparing ROI to IRR is like comparing apples to oranges, they may look similar on the surface, but they measure different things and cannot be used interchangeably.
- Mixing up left and right: Mixing up ROI and IRR is like confusing left and right; you may think you’re heading in the right direction, but in reality, you’re going the opposite way.
- Using a ruler to measure weight: Using ROI to evaluate a long-term investment is like using a ruler to measure weight; it may give you a rough idea, but it’s not the correct tool for the job.
- A square peg in a round hole: Using ROI to compare different investments is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole; it may seem like it should fit, but it’s not the right fit and doesn’t give an accurate measure of the situation.
- A one-size-fits-all approach: Using ROI to describe the profitability of a project is like using a one-size-fits-all approach. It may work in some cases but not in others. IRR is a more specific metric that should be used in this case.