Does your sales pitch include a WIIFM?

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One of the most powerful sales and marketing concepts I ever learned is the "WIIFM", or "What's IIFor Me?".  What does this mean exactly?  Whenever I am presenting, whether to a potential client, project stakeholder, or investor, the WIIFM concept reminds me to always be thinking about what I am trying to communicate from my audience's perspective.  Before I create a single slide, draft an introduction email to a decision maker, or create a product one-sheet for a trade show, I step back and take a minute to make sure I can answer the one question I know they will be asking in their head: "Why should I care about your product, what's in it for me?".  

It's not that people are inherently greedy or self-serving, they just need a way to be able to relate your product to what they do so they can quickly engage attention and understand what you have to offer.  So instead of starting your pitch with everything they need to know about your product and your company, try this approach:

1) Research your audience - What does your prospect's company do?  What do they offer the marketplace?  What is your decision maker's role at the company?  Can you find them on LinkedIn to understand their background and experience?

2) What problem do you solve? - Once you understand what your prospect does, what problem does your product help them solve?  Are you going to help them gain new customers?  Reduce costs?  Shorten time-to-market?

3) Talk about them first - As you begin your pitch, show them that you understand their business and the challenges they face based on the research you have done.  Explain why you are interested in working with them, what do they offer that you find intriguing?  

4) THE WIIFM - Once you've engaged them by demonstrating that you "get" what they do, let them know what's in it for them if they work with you.  Why are your companies a good match to work together?  What will your prospect gain from your proposed partnership?

While I've chosen to give mostly B2B examples here, this process works just as well for a consumer product or service in thinking about your customers and users.  And I guarantee at some point you will need to engage with other companies from a business development perspective to enhance and expand your own offering, so these tips will serve you well when you are ready to develop corporate partnerships.

In his book How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleDale Carnegie said, "Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language".  Incorporate that philosophy into your product pitch by talking about your prospect and their company first, then follow up with a well-researched WIIFM.