Answer the only question that matters and prospects will do what you want
Marketing Ideas & Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Sales & Selling & Value Proposition

Answer the only question that matters and prospects will do what you want

August 12, 2016

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

what's in it for meThe W.I.I.F.M. – The big “what’s in it for me?” question is the only question that matters to a prospect isn’t it?


Strip away all the behavioural psychology and best practice advice process…forget sales technique and cunning tactics to trick people into opening their wallets.  Just answer this question at the front end of the process and basically prospects will do what you want.


Tell people “what’s in it for them” and generally they are motivated to act if the reward is worth the price they have to pay right?  Don’t answer the W.I.I.F.M. question that is quietly being repeated in their minds, and they won’t give you anything, right?


A while back an adviser challenged me by saying that this was a great concept, but that it didn’t work in the real world of dealing with intangibles.  I bet him $100 dollars that I could get a 10 minute appointment with anyone he chose as long as we could get through to them on the phone. I put that qualification on it just in case he came up with something smart like “get me an appointment with the president of the United States”.  What could be more intangible after all: one stranger who has no product or reason to call another stranger has to get that stranger to agree to meet a different stranger. That’s the stuff of horror movies….it’s a tough sell.  He agreed – it is a tough sell.


So he picked a number at random from the phone book – we literally had a surname, an address and a phone number.  He dialled and an actual human being answered the phone.  The conversation was straightforward:


“Hi, you don’t know me but my friend just bet me $50 dollars that I couldn’t get a stranger to talk to me on the phone, so if you say hello back I’ll get $50….pleeeeeez say hello to me” (I put on my best whiny, pleading and stupid voice)


She laughed, said “hello”, and we chatted for a couple of seconds and then I followed up by laughing and saying:

what is in it for me?“the idiot just doubled the bet to $100 if I can talk you into agreeing to a 10 minute appointment to let him bore you about how he can probably get you a better deal on your insurances and stuff.  He’s an insurance broker obviously – sorry about that.  But here’s the thing: I don’t want his money, I just wanted to win the bet.  You can have the $100 if you can put up with him for 10 minutes….you get the $100, but I get to brag for life that I outplayed him – And I’ll make sure he is kicked out in 10 minutes too…..what do you say?  By the way – I am looking at 2 x $50 notes right now – they are for real, and they’re yours if you want them”


She laughed again, agreed, and made the appointment.  The adviser complained that I hadn’t played the game properly because I’d just used his money to achieve the “win”. ….too bad sucker.   Welcome to life.  You should have thought it through before getting into the game.  In fact if you want to play the game, learn the rules first.  I used the resources I had available to help the prospect get some value and agree to move forward.


And that was the point in me taking his $100 and giving it to someone else.


He should have thought it through before getting into the game.  We all should think it through before getting into the game if we want people to play our game.  He should understand the rules of the game if he wants to play in it.


The rules of the game are simple enough:

  1. Figure out what price you are asking people to pay.
  2. Then figure out what value you can put on the table that makes that price look ridiculous.
  3. Then position it so that they can see the value and understand what is in it for them straight away.  They shouldn’t have to analyse a deal to figure out what’s in it for them – they need to be able to get it quickly, if not instinctively.


The adviser spent $100 on gaining a valuable marketing lesson: if you can give the other person something that they value, which is worth more to them than what you are asking, then they will generally buy. The odds are indeed forever in your favour if you get that right.   It has to be believable of course – if it is outlandish and unrealistic – too good to be true – they won’t go with it.   It’s simple.


It’s simple IF we remember what it is we are selling at any given time. In my case (in the example above) I was trying to sell a stranger on a 10 minute interruption to their day.  I was prepared with the mental maths to point out that this was a better hourly rate than the partners of the biggest law firms in town – 10 minutes at $100 equals a $600/hour rate.  Whoa…where else are you going to get that?  I was prepared in my mind with a string of examples to show how valuable $100 for 10 minutes of time was comparatively.


What I wasn’t trying to do was sell them insurance, or advice, or a promise that I could help them make their dreams come true forever more….


imagesI was trying to sell a stranger a 10 minute interruption as being worthwhile.  But before I could sell them on that, I had to sell them on listening to me, and then had to sell them on giving me another 60 seconds of attention on the phone. So there were a series of small sales that had to be made if I was to get the bigger sale (the 10 minute appointment).


Each of these “sales” needed to hit the “W.I.I.F.M.” of the moment.  And each moment has a different W.I.I.F.M.


The first sale here:  what’s in it for her? just a laugh and a bit of fun…

The second sale here: what’s in it for her? the promise of $100 cash

The third sale here: what’s in it for her? how she can get the $100 cash


Understand at each step – which is each mini-sale in the entire sales process – that the only question which matters in the prospects mind is “what’s in it for me”.  Then figure out what IS in it for them and deal with it straight up front.


Do that, and generally speaking the prospects will do what you want. I’m willing to bet on that…


You might also be interested in this related article:
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Comments (4)

  • Great article, I wonder if that adviser actually visited the client and parted with the money.

    Neill Roynon
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