The Unspoken “What’s In It For Me?”

“Hey Martin, how about you become our product manager?”

I smiled, and said: “Nah, but thanks though”.

The product was good: security software. And he and his wife weren’t offering me a contract job, but something more on an advisory basis. Easy to combine with my coaching practice.

I liked both of them, and since they handle the website for a client of mine, I’d been in touch with both of them before by phone – so I knew them to be professionals, instead of the sadly very common ‘playing at being in business’ type of entrepreneur you get to meet here on the coast.

And I liked them – we’d had lunch at the beach and excellent conversation – and earnings would have been very interesting, had I taken on the gig.

But I didn’t.

In practical terms, it was because I prefer coaching and teaching: running marketing strategies for someone else’s business isn’t my thing.

Much more fun to help clients create their own.

However, if he’d played his cards differently, there might have been a chance.

All he would have had to do, is tell me ‘what’s in it for me’.

Not that I go through life asking myself what I can get out of things, and I suspect neither do you.

Except… we do. We all do.

It’s a biological imperative, it’s survival and evolution.

On the deepest, most primal level of our being, part of our subconscious is always asking the question: ‘Will this cause pain, or wellbeing?’

It’s the only way a species can survive.

Can I eat it, or does it want to eat me?

Friend or foe?

Blessing or risk?

Poisonous berry, or sweet?

The subconscious – or rather, what’s known as the lizard brain – is deeply skeptical, because that’s how it keeps you alive.

This matters because whenever you want to enroll someone – be it for them to buy in to an idea, a collaboration, a sale, or screwing the cap back on the toothpaste, you’ll get far more results if you start out by showing people what’s in it for them.

And especially in the context of a sales conversation, where the other person permanently has a radar going, asking ‘what’s in it for me?’

If my buddy that day had said ‘You know, I have an idea. With the strategies you just recommended, we can sell a lot of this security software. And we’re willing to pay a very interesting commission – and it wouldn’t even take much of your time to help us’.

Had he said that, who knows if he’d have sparked my interest. I probably still would have turned him down, but at least he’d have had a fighting chance.

So whenever you’re in a conversation with a potential buyer, remember that the big question in the other’s mind, is always what’s in it for them.

When you address that question, you remove neediness and threat, and you inspire confidence and trust – which are always required in order to convert a prospect into a buyer.

Cheers,

Martin


Also published on Medium.

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