31 December 2006

What are the AFTERS, exactly?

“AFTERs” is a word coined by Andy Bounds to describe the benefits which remain after the presenter has left the room. It works just as well for salespeople.

Good copywriters always use this idea when they focus on what a product does for someone rather than what it is. Amazingly very few salespeople exploit it fully in their sales pitches. He claims that when he started using the concept his close rates rocketed and so did those of his clients as soon as he got the message through to them.

Think about any product – even something as basic as a daily newspaper. You didn’t buy it just because you wanted sheets of paper with the news printed on them. You wanted the knowledge you’d get AFTER reading that paper, or the gossip, or your horoscope, or the TV programmes, or the weather report – whatever mattered to you.

  • Bought a lamp? You wanted light.
  • Toothpaste? Clean teeth.
  • A pair of glasses? Better vision.
  • Contact lenses? Better vision without anyone knowing you’re short sighted.

You could have sworn you wanted to buy a newspaper, a lamp, some toothpaste, a pair of glasses, contact lenses. AFTERS is simply a method of looking at features versus benefits. When you think about it, features are what you do; benefits are what your prospect is left with AFTER you’ve done what you do.

AFTERs is also a more helpful term than “benefits” for two reasons:

  1. It forces you to think about the future good of the client, which is the only true way they’ll see a benefit in the purchase, and
  2. When salespeople use the word “benefit” in a pitch, their prospect is most likely going to think “Here we go – here comes the sales pitch”, because many of them know salespeople have been taught to sell using the word “benefits”
Many salespeople spend their time telling their prospect. “We’ll do these things when we’re with you”… “This is how we operate”… “This is our unique process”…etc. These salespeople are actually talking about how they operate, they are talking about their organisation, their processes, their expertise.

If the salesperson majors on what the client is left with AFTER they have finished, it’s much less about the salesperson – after all, they aren't at the client’s premises any more; their work is done – so they come across as much more helpful. Many people like being helped and dislike being sold to.

There are people - and I'm one - who enjoy being sold to, but I'm not necessarily concentrating on the content as much as I am on the process.

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