Benefits aren’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ proposition for advertisers

I am in the process of reading Walter Issacson’s excellent biography of Steve Jobs. Reading biographies of recognized leaders is an effective way to learn from their successes and to avoid the mistakes they made.

Steve Jobs understood that to build a great company he needed to recruit great people. He knew that having his friend and early collaborator Steve Wozniak on board was critical for Apple’s success. Wozniak’s genius for computer engineering was behind many of the company’s early products.

Wozniak turned down the offer to be a major partner and founder of Apple. The chance to be an executive and to become a very wealthy man could not entice him to leave his job as an engineer for Hewlett-Packard. Steve Jobs begged him to leave HP and even got Wozniak’s parents to put pressure on him, but “Woz” wouldn’t budge. Finally, Mike Markkula, a mutual friend, intervened and convinced Wozniak to join Apple.

How did he convince him to make the move? Markkula understood that Wozniak wasn’t interested in money and actually hated the idea of having to boss other people around. He knew that the only thing “Woz” cared about was engineering and designing new hardware and software. Markkula convinced Wozniak that eventually HP would force him to accept a promotion and leave the lab. He told him that at Apple he could exercise his creativity and do nothing but work on his own designs.

This approach convinced Steve Wozniak to make the move and, as they say, the rest is history.  This is an important lesson for sales people, sales managers and for anyone who needs to persuade others to make a change. We all have our own reasons for doing what we do. Taking the time to talk to people about themselves to gain an understanding of their individual needs and desires is the secret to motivating others.

Benefits are very personal things. What you see as a benefit may be meaningless to me. Any good tailor knows that to make comfortable, well-fitting clothing requires taking careful measurements. A good salesperson will use questions to take their customer’s measure before offering a benefit. A good salesperson knows that benefits are not “one-size-fits-all”!

By Jim Busch

Jim Busch has more than 28 years experience selling print advertising and has developed a reputation as one of the top sales trainers in the community newspaper industry. Jim is a faculty member of the Leadership Institute, the training arm of the Association of Free and Community Papers. He also writes a monthly column for the AFCP’s Free Paper INK magazine and the “Link and Learn” Column for PaperChain. In 2008 Jim founded Ideas and Eyeballs Sales Training and Consulting to provide sales training and management consulting services to publishers and industry associations.