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  • Alec Drake

Why WLLS Always Beats WIFM in Sales

Updated: Jan 19

My latest sales management column in Radio Ink's May 9th, 2022 issue.

Why does WLLS Always Beat WIFM in Sales?

The use of call letters may have faded in branding stations, yet there remain "sales" call letters we have used in sales meetings to shift the focus from the salesperson to the customer. Many of us are familiar with the near acronym "WIFM," meaning, "what's in it for me?" This is not to be confused with 100.9 WIFM, which has proudly served the Yadkin Valley in Elkin, North Carolina, since 1948. WIFM in sales speak describes a selfish approach driven by commissions or company goals that take salespeople off track.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

To stay on course, you need a set of letters promoting a path of collaboration, starting from the customer's view instead of your own needs.

What's WLLS? - Watch, Listen, Learn, and Solutions. Each letter stands on its own in value. In combination, they help you navigate the sales journey to a more successful conclusion. Being aware of the customer first and helping them buy becomes the priority over the secondary need to sell.

"Watch" and observe in the early stages of prospecting by doing your research upfront. Find anything you can that helps you build a robust prospect profile. The observation and research will avoid meaningless questions in your first call, suggesting you are not prepared. Once you first meet, pay immediate attention to what is on the walls or desk. What does it tell you about interests and values essential to building a stronger rapport? In a virtual meeting, what is behind them? Are they using a virtual background to promote a particular impression?

What mannerisms do you observe? Is the posture relaxed and leaning back, are they interested and leaning forward, or arms crossed, eyes squinting? These visual clues are signals of how you might adjust your pace, questions, or presentation. Nonverbal communication is a two-way process of evaluation. How are you coming across as you hope to build this future partnership?

Image by Gerd Altmann - Pixabay

"Listen" How we listen makes a big difference in what we hear. What do I mean? Think of a sales meeting where content is delivered but does not connect with the sales team. Being in the room does not mean you are getting someone's attention. Some meetings can be great, or others lost time and are unproductive. For now, let's turn the attention to your behavior in a discovery call. What do you hear in your initial communications with prospects?

Are you automatically nodding your head up and down only to miss a crucial clue to your success? Listening intently takes effort, focus, and patience. If you find yourself jumping in before someone has stopped talking, you are not listening. Pay attention to your behavior as you communicate with prospects, customers, and co-workers. Do you listen profoundly or nod as a reflex?

"Learning" is the path of progress necessary to move the prospect along and get to customer acquisition. There are no shortcuts, and we should follow a sequence of steps that can inform both the prospect and us along the way. The discovery call gathering details as you listen and learn guides you toward the last phase, the "solution."

We can keep prospects engaged and learning by getting "mini buy-ins" before any presentation. These prospect engagements can include a discussion on the creative to be used in the campaign, activation elements on the promotions planned to support the advertising, or confirmation of digital details for the total program.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

"Solutions" culminate the first three elements in WLLS that push value to the front and help someone "buy" instead of being sold. Solutions should result from a collaborative process that dissolves the "hard close" in a presentation. Awareness, interest, desire, and action are four marketing steps I have referenced in speaking with prospects about their marketing strategies. These same steps are applicable when you guide a prospect to a close.

Awareness typically falls in the "lead generation" phase and sits before the first meeting or "interest" step. Building "desire" involves taking your understanding and the prospect's involvement from initial discussions and developing the solution. It's essential to keep your prospect engaged, so interest and desire do not cool off, and they will be more receptive to the pending presentation.

Keeping the WLLS call letters in mind when prospecting will improve close ratios. Pay attention at the start to understand your prospect by watching, listening intently, and learning together as you create robust support for your solutions. A selling mindset of WIFM takes a back seat as you help prospects buy based on their needs and, in the process, build long-term client relationships.

Thank you for reading this article, and please pass it along to your colleagues.
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About The Author:

Alec Drake openly shares revenue management strategies and sales improvement ideas in the "Sales Success Library" at He is a regular contributor to Radio Ink Magazine, where he leverages four decades of experience to write about sales and management. Alec is the founder of The Radio Invigoration Project (T.R.I.P.), a support initiative for local radio sales and promotion staff.

Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to any original content in articles written by Alec Drake or published on any third-party platforms and featured in any podcast.

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