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WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

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“Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.” ~~Clifford Stoll

This week we consider some fundamental communications skill in sales.  That is, understanding and stating the difference between features and benefits.  Features are simply facts.  They neither engage nor inspire.  They do not impel action or transfer an emotional connection.  Features are a list of what that never considers why or, as the title notes, “What is in it for me?”  Your prospect wonders, “Why should I care?”

Dr. Ivan Misner includes a good example of this in the 29% Solution, by listing the features of a car.

“V-6 engine, dual exhaust, front-wheel drive, sunroof…heated seats, heated glass.”

As you can see, this is a list of features you may or may not entirely understand or appreciate.

What are some of the benefits of these features?

  • The V-6 engine helps you pull out into traffic quickly.  It may impress your friends.
  • Dual exhaust improves fuel efficiency, provides more power when starting out, and adds a “throaty” sound to the engine (which may also impress your friends.)
  • Front-wheel drive provides more legroom, since the driveshaft tunnel is not needed.
  • The sunroof provides the open road feel of a convertible while retaining the added structural security of a hard-body sedan.
  • Heated seats provide a warmer environment on chilly mornings and better comfort on long road trips.
  • Heated glass allows the convenience of clearing the windows in winter without manually scraping them clean.

These benefits put the prospect “in the driver’s seat.”  Some of those benefits appealed to you while others did not.  The professional is aware of the benefits and can align them to the prospect.  If the person you are talking to is most interested in fuel efficiency then you can recommend a good automotive choice and highlight the features that support fuel efficiency.  In fact, the same vehicle may appeal to two very different buyers as long as the emphasis is on the areas of interest to them.

How does this apply to networking?  Since we are meeting other business owners and sales representatives many networkers do not consider the benefits and only list features.  Feature lists are certainly more precise and, when shared with a colleague, can be very effective.  Network administrators, for instance, can share industrial terms with each other and successfully impress with their technical grasp and currency of knowledge.  However, all that jargon leaves the rest of us out.  In fact, it disenfranchises us from any ability to refer them or connect them to someone they could help since we are so clueless in that arena.

If instead they spoke in terms of response speed, data security, recovery time, and reliability we could recommend them to others with confidence.

My litmus test is to imagine sharing what I do, what my product or service does, and how this can help you by imagining I am explaining it to a twelve year old.  I don’t want to wear out your attention span or go over your head.

Your action this week is to highlight the benefits you provide.  Consider some of your favorite customers and remember what problems you solved for them.  A simple (and highly effective) shortcut is to ask them.  You have been meaning to call and say hello anyway.  Here’s a good excuse.

Find out the main reason they chose to spend money with you?  They sought a benefit, not a feature.

The second action is to list all the features of your product or service and identify as many benefits as possible for each one.  I highly recommend that you complete this portion before proceeding to next week’s blog entry.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

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Written by bniguy

July 24, 2011 at 2:01 am

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