“WIIFM” – Understanding This All-Important Sales Acronym

To an unaccustomed outsider, it might seem blithely opportunistic to say, “What’s in it for me?” But that’s exactly the kind of question a prospect might ask – either to you, the salesperson, or quietly to themselves – before buying your product or service. It is therefore all-important to understand the “What’s in it for me” mentality, or WIIFM for short.

As a salesperson, understanding WIIFM is key to understanding how prospects think and behave. At every point in the sales process, and for every member of the team, WIIFM is relevant; whether you want to learn how to cold call successfully or close a deal, whether you’re a sales development rep or an account executive, you’ll want to keep it in mind.

There are three main reasons why locking into the WIIFM mentality will help you sell to prospects. Firstly, it allows you to reframe prospect interactions away from selling a product and toward selling a solution. Secondly, it helps salespeople understand the time and money constraints of decision makers. And thirdly, it teaches salespeople both new and experienced that oftentimes selling is more about listening than talking.

Selling a Solution

A prospect doesn’t owe you anything. They won’t buy from you to do you a favor, nor because you did such a great job pitching the product. They’ll engage with the product you are selling if it solves a problem for them. That’s the WIIFM mentality. To that end, you have to learn how to discuss your product less in terms of universal merit and more in terms of how it solves particular problems.

Understanding the Job of a Decision Maker

A part of many sales calls, from cold calls to closing, is managing objections. The best salespeople can anticipate objections and maneuver around them, but that requires understanding the job of the prospect. If they are working with a tight budget, how might the product you’re selling be of value long-term? If they are content with their current product provider, how might your product provide added or different value? Keeping “What’s in it for me” in mind will help you anticipate these objections. 

Actively Listening

As mentioned, you’re not just pitching a product. Many salespeople are great talkers, but some get carried away in expounding the merits and value of their product, forgetting to listen to the person on the other end of the line. If it helps, write a sticky note that says “WIIFM” and post it to the side of your computer screen. As you are entering minute two of your spiel, the prospect is likely thinking to themselves, “this is all well and good, but what’s in it for me?”

Let them ask questions. Let them voice concerns and paint points. Actively listen to what they say, and then use that information to let them know “what’s in it for them.”

More than a pithy piece of sales lingo, WIIFM is an important mentality to understand, one that allows salespeople to view their product as a solution, manage objections, and listen actively. Whether you’re looking to improve your cold calling or close the next big sale, understanding WIIFM is crucial to interacting with prospects. 

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