Thursday, March 8, 2007

What's in it for you?

I'm reading the advance proof of Annette Simmons' forthcoming book from Amacom, Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins, for Harvard Management Update and came across this passage that sales professionals might want to mull over:

Experimental economics reveals via simulations, such as investment games and public good games, that fairness and reciprocity often matter more than utility. If an offer feels exploitative people prefer to take nothing and will even pay their own money to punish a "free rider." It's very human to abhor a user.

This doesn't mean that the benefits of a product or idea are not important to a prospective buyer, it just means that we need to pay attention to the sequencing of our message. I was taught in Marketing and Sales 101 that answering the WIIFM -- "What's In It For Me?" -- should be first. And yes, people certainly need to know what is in it for them. However, I've noticed, and you may have also noticed, that people don't relax and listen to what is in it for them until they are satisfied they know what's in it for YOU.

No one wants to feel conned. Big promises of great benefit naturally raise the question: What's in it for you? Turning a profit is fair enough. If everyone at the table is there to make money, and the distribution seems fair, then they are ready to listen to what comes next. However, if your prospect smells a rat, every benefit you promise is sniffed with suspicion.

The new book won't be out until May. In the meantime, Simmons' website has lots of info on how you can influence and persuade thru storytelling.

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