The Art of WIIFM in Sales

A sales representative in discussion with prospective clients.
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Experienced salespeople will often joke, “Everyone's favorite radio station is WII-FM.” They're referring to the acronym WIIFM: "What's in it for me?" And no, this doesn't mean you, the salesperson. It means your prospect or potential customer. 

Use WIIFM to Your Advantage 

Your sales prospect's needs should be on the top of your mind as you make your pitch. Every prospect you approach will consider your pitch from the point of WIIFM. That's why it's so important to talk about the benefits rather than the features of what you're selling – literally tell him what's in it for him.

Prospects don't care that you need to close at least three more sales this month, or that you're shooting for a big win before you leave on vacation. And why should they? Neither of those things benefits them. Your prospect wants to hear about what he or she stands to gain by buying your products, and it should be something pretty substantial if you want him to move quickly. This is why benefits outsell features so dramatically.

The Benefits of a Purchase 

Benefits are specific examples of what the prospect stands to gain if he buys from you. As a result, they appeal directly to the WIIFM mindset. Features, on the other hand, are specific facts about a product. They don't explain how the product will improve your prospect's life.

Let's say you're selling cars. If you tell a prospect that a specific model accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, that's a feature. It's nice to know, but it doesn't do much to persuade him to sign on the dotted line. But if you tell the prospect that the car's high acceleration allows him to safely merge onto the freeway, that's a benefit. You are telling the prospect WIIFM.

Or let's say your prospect is an older woman, nearing retirement age, who isn't as concerned with acceleration as she is with reliability and her post-retirement budget. She's lukewarm because although she really wants a new car, she doesn't want to have to worry about a car payment when she punches that time clock for the last time in a few years.

You can go on and on about the car's features, or you can point out that if she buys now, the car will most likely be paid off, or close to it, by the time she retires. Wouldn't she rather have a car payment now rather than then? As for his paid-off trade-in, it has 90,000 miles on it. You might mention that in all likelihood, it's not going to get him through her retirement without major costly and unexpected repairs. That's what's in it for her. 

The So-What Factor 

Another important thing to keep in mind is that one prospect's benefit is another prospect's "so what?" Not everyone has the same needs. They don't value the same things equally. WIIFM also implies that you should take the time to understand what the prospect is looking for and where he's coming from. Then match the benefits you choose to discuss those needs.