The reclusive author of the enthralling To Kill a Mockingbird recently reached an agreement to settle a copyright issue against her literary agent. This has reminded me of the wise counsel which the book’s character Atticus Finch gives to his daughter:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
This ‘simple trick’ as Atticus calls it, is also brilliant selling advice because empathy with the buyer helps to focus on his issue(s) of ‘pain’ in the sense of how your product or service would solve or remove that issue.
As well as helping us to come across as less pushy and more consultative, seeing business concerns from the prospect’s viewpoint will give us some killer reasons for him to buy, which will strengthen our sales pitch against the competition.
It’s my long held belief that, generally speaking, we buy for one of two main reasons: for pleasure – because of a ‘desire’ for something, or, to take away ‘pain’. These terms are simple (call them ‘want’ or ‘need’ if you prefer) and can be applied easily to whatever you’re trying to sell.
Temporarily, you have to make a shift in your thinking, and to facilitate this ‘climbing into his skin’, when training or coaching I introduce the notion of imagining the buyer actually asking us “What’s in it for me?” So essential is this to any sales presentation, that for good measure I will repeat each one of WiiFM’s five words to the bang of my fist on the desk.
By this stage, it’s fair to say that I’m probably having more fun with this than the poor trainee.
Getting back to the point, we have to put ourselves in the prospect’s position and understand the most critical issues from his standpoint. Why should he take time to listen to you? Why should he be the one to break the unspoken company rule of ‘We never buy from sales people we didn’t approach first’? Why should he run the risk of disturbing his own – and possibly others’– corporate comfort zone by taking a decision? Increasingly, business buying decisions are rarely the sole preserve of one person, so that’s a further situation which needs to be visualised.
Before we get too depressed by what he may or may not be thinking, using your next sales or board meeting to brainstorm WiiFM issues is a worthwhile exercise which will develop your marketing for the better. Some suggestions to get the ball rolling:
1. How would your product or service increase his organisation’s productivity? Would it improve the quality of what they produce or deliver? In what way?
2. How much more time would they gain with your product/service per week/per month/per year?
3. How much money could they save per week/per month/per year?
4. Would buying from you improve their status as a company? If so, who to? Their existing customers? Competitors? In what way?
5. Would it enhance their image? How?
6. What would make the decision to buy easier? eg payment terms, free delivery/ customised installation or service agreement, etc.
Once you’ve made the initial leap and understood the other point of view, I promise, it will get easier. Before you know it, you and your colleagues will have started to describe your product in a clearer, fresher and more compelling way.