Why “selling benefits” can lose you sales

My target audience on this blog are fraud risk consultants in all their various hues and shades – solo practitioners, small to medium firms, departments (service line) in large firms or functionaries in large organisations. During my nine lives I ‘ve been in all of these. As a service line head in a “Big 4” firm I remember my Partner saying to me, “You are not generating clients Caleb. Where do you think your salary is coming from?” As a solo practitioner nobody asked me that. Of cause, I asked it myself – of myself!

Today we are talking “Selling”. Yes, selling your services to generate clients.

The following article is by Ian Brodie. Ian is a consultant and author who helps consultants, coaches and other professionals attract and win more clients. I adore the art of thinking outside the box. No wonder I ‘m such a fan of Ian’s. You can read more of his articles at the More Clients blog.


“Focus on the benefits, not the features”

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times Caleb.

It’s standard marketing dogma. Focus on benefits. The problems you solve. The results people get from working with you.

But sometimes it’s absolutely the wrong thing to focus on.

You see, focusing on benefits implies that’s why people buy. And that’s not always the case.

Imagine yourself in this scenario:

You’re the CIO of a multinational. You’ve been set a target to reduce expenditure by 10% by the board.

You’re looking at outsourcing. One firm is quoting you savings of 15%, the other 20%?

Which one do you go with. The 20% is a no-brainer, right?

Not necessarily.

15% and 20% are both significantly better than your budget. Both will keep the board happy.

In theory, you might go for the 20% to get the maximum benefit. But there’s another huge factor that’s going to be weighing on your mind. One that more often than not will determine your decision.


You see, you might get an extra pat on the back for getting those extra savings – if they come off.

But if something goes wrong. If the outsourcer fails to deliver, if your systems start failing or your users start complaining all the time. Then you’re in big trouble.

So as a buyer, you’re rarely out to simply maximise benefits. You’re looking to hit your target benefits at minimum risk.

And you’ll see this buying behaviour repeated time and time again.

Especially in large corporations and the public sector where maximising benefits will get you a small bonus or a pat on the back, but buying something which fails will get you the sack.

So as a seller (especially to large corporations or the public sector) you’ve got to focus not just on the benefits you’ll bring – but on making sure they see you as the lowest risk option.

If you’re like me, and you’re a small or solo business, you’re automatically at a disadvantage in these circumstances. By default, large businesses will see you as a risk.

So that means that very often, the focus of your “pitch” needs to be on minimising the perceived risk of working with you (and maximising the perceived risk of working with someone else).

Next time you’re bidding for a big piece of work with a major customer, spend some time putting yourself in your potential client’s shoes and brainstorming what risks they might see in the project and in working with you.

Maybe it’s financial stability.

Maybe it’s continuity if you get hit by illness.

Maybe it’s that you don’t understand their business.

Maybe it’s whether you can work in a unionised environment.

Whatever the risks you spot, make sure you address those risks.

Because just banging on about the wonderful benefits of working with you is going to get you nowhere if your client is frightened it may all fall apart and they won’t see any of them in practice.



Email sent by:
Ian Brodie 29 Dean Road Handforth Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 3AH United Kingdom 0161 408 0984

Getting The Most out of Your Tip-Offs Anonymous Investment

Sometime in 2005 I had occasion to visit one of the big mines in Zimbabwe. A few kilometres from the mine, I gave a lift to two guys who worked there. Naturally we got to talking. I let them know I was a Forensic Auditor. When I explained what we do as Forensic Auditors, their reaction was “oh, just about time”. They shared with me some dirty goings-on at the mine. Knowing that the mine was part of a huge group serviced by Deloittes’ Tip-Offs Anonymous (TOA), I asked why they didn’t get to using it. Long story short, they were very cynical about the service and about reporting in general.

Yet, TOA is a marvelous reporting mechanism and is a great investment for any organization. Managed well, it is a potent weapon in an organisation’s anti-fraud arsenal. TAO functions well when it is part of an active anti-fraud policy framework, which I talk about here. TAO and a Fraud Contingency Plan are two pillars of an active anti-fraud policy framework.

Nevertheless, it has been my experience over the years that, within many organisations, the return on this investment is minuscule. The main cause, as my two mine friends exhibited, is skepticism. And the major cause of this skepticism is what employees view as management’s inactivity, or false action, when matters are reported.

Discretion during internal investigations means that only one or two executives need know of the progress of the work. Most of the staff may not even know of the investigation at all. When it is inconclusive, the investigation is likely to remain unknown. This sends negative signals to the whistleblowers and their confidants who may wrongly conclude that management do sweep fraud and other wrongdoing under the carpet and that reporting is therefore a waste of time. Some organizations try to manage this risk by maintaining a public log of issues reported, action taken and the results.

The best motivation for whistleblowing, though, is a successful and conclusive investigation. This requires experienced, skillful Investigators/Forensic Auditors. The resultant hearings, dismissals and Court trials speak louder than any logs or bulletins.

In conclusion, need I mention that inaction following a report of wrongdoing is the best way to create cynicism about the seriousness of an organization’s ethics policy?

© Caleb Mutsumba

Practical FG Insurance Nuggets by Alson Nhari

Below is a discussion I had with Alson Nhari, Senior Broker at Alexander Forbes [http://zw.linkedin.com/pub/alson-nhari/1a/a22/22]:-


On 10/17/11 10:01 PM, Caleb Mutsumba wrote:



I am researching the prospect of my company introducing a new fidelity guarantee-related service. I require and appreciate your help.

A Fidelity Guarantee (FG) Insurance claim must establish the “act of infidelity” committed by the particular employee. I take this to mean a forensic audit or investigation is necessary. Ordinarily the cover extends to the Forensic Auditors’ fees incurred in establishing and substantiating the amount of loss.


Please fill me in on the practical modalities of how the recovered assets and the asset recovery process impacts the parties, namely, the insurer, the insured, the investigator, and the suspect/accused.







On 11/08/11 8:51 AM, Alson Nhari wrote:



Hi Caleb,


I hope you well.


As you have rightly said, some kind of forensic investigation has to be conducted in deciding whether a particular claim is a valid under an FG policy. The ordinary insurance policy states that following the forensic audit there has to be conviction in the courts of law of the persons found to be at the wrong side of the law.


However modern insurance practice came up with a clause that’s called the ‘reasonable proof of loss clause’, and states that only reasonable proof of the insured’s loss is required in order for one to claim successfully under an FG policy.


Now getting to the impact of the recovered property to the parties, all insurance policies have what’s called a subrogation clause, which states that the insurer will gain ownership of the rights of the insured following payment of a claim.


So should an insurer owner up and pay an FG claim, they will then in the event of successful recovery of the stolen property pay the excess (initially charged to the insured) back to the insured and retain ownership of the balance.


In other words say an insured had lost USD10 million and the policy has an excess of USD1 million. The insurer pays USD9 million to the insured, but should the lost USD10 million be recovered after the forensic audits and staff, the insurer will give USD1 million which was the excess back to the insured and take back the balance of USD9 million. Its important to note that even if the insurer recovers say USD5 million out of the loss of USD10 million they will still give the insured the USD1 million excess and retain the balance of USD4 million.


There is not much effect on the investigator from the recovered assets side; this is because the investigator will be paid by the insurer even if no recovery is made. The investigator has no share on the recovered assets.


The effect on the accused or suspect is that if found guilty the insurer will seek to recover the lost money from his personal assets.


This brings us back to the clause i spoke of above (REASONABLE PROOF OF LOSS) when i spoke of the modern FG policy as opposed to the traditional FG policy that requires conviction of the suspect in order to pay a claim. The reason why this clause is now part of the modern FG cover is because with conviction of the persons at fault recovery of the stolen assets may be difficult and sometimes its damaging to the insured’s image if issues are taken to the courts and all, especially if is the insured is in the financial services sector. So repayment agreements may be reached between the insured, the insurer and the persons at fault out of court to enable recovery of assets to be an easy process and not to taint the insured’s image.


I hope this is helpful, should you require more information please do not hesitate to get in touch.







On 11/09/11 7:12 AM, Caleb Mutsumba wrote:



This is wonderful Alson.


Thanks a million. I ‘m much wiser now.


Do you mind if I post this onto my Blog, credited to you of cause. You can send me an edited version for publication if you wish.


Regrads Caleb



On 11/08/11 8:51 AM, Alson Nhari wrote:



Hi Caleb,


You’re welcome man. Sure you can go ahead and post it onto your blog.


I’m still a young man being 2 years out of college and have a lot to learn in the business world. I think with guys like you around me i can become a better business person with everyday that comes.


Lets keep in touch please.


Kind regards,