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Five letters that explain Trump’s continued popularity among his supporters

  • Trump's most loyal supporters continue to stand by the president, recent polls show.
  • Trump's critics can't understand why his ardent fans dismiss the gaffes and lack of accomplishment.
  • A little-known acronym familiar to sales people explains it all.
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer outside the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.
James Keivom | NY Daily News | Getty Images
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer outside the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

Given the many snafus, misfires, and gaffes of President Donald Trump's first 100 plus days in office, journalists, cable news pundits, late night comedians, and Democratic politicians are flummoxed as to why his popularity continues to remain strong among his supporters.

The numbers are confounding to Trump's critics: Public Policy Polling's latest survey found that - even with the many difficulties that he's currently facing in his presidency - among voters who chose Trump in 2016, 86% still approve of the job that he's doing. Given these numbers, it would appear that, in the eyes of his backers, Trump can do no wrong.

Sales professionals, on the other hand, understand exactly why Trump's popularity is so unshakeable. The secret behind his resilience is a timeless law of selling that Trump has consistently leveraged throughout his career. While sales pros follow this maxim daily, Trump's detractors don't have a clue about it - and as a result don't understand his bulletproof popularity: it's called WIIFM.

WIIFM is an acronym that stands for "What's in it for me," which is the thought that goes through the minds of all prospective purchasers who are shopping for products or services. In sales transactions, prospects are presented with the WIIFMs that best address their unique needs. If they are explained clearly and convincingly, prospects can be converted into buyers.

In his 1989 book "Successful Cold Call Selling," veteran sales trainer Lee Boyan described three specific WIIFM categories that sales professionals must emphasize in their interactions with prospective purchasers. Boyan said that successful sales "closes" are possible if a rep can prove that a product or service can make a customer money, save him/her money, or improve his/her self-esteem and/or quality of life.

In the case of President Trump's ability to successfully "sell" his presidency to his supporters, Boyan's theory holds true, but the requirement for him to prove that he can deliver his WIIFMs doesn't seem to be necessary: although Trump has never achieved the WIIFM benefits that he's promising, Trump's "customers" still believe that he has the skills to eventually make them happen.

Trump's WIIFMs - as codified by Boyan - are as follows:

  1. His presidency can make Americans money: Trump's supporters believe that he'll energize the economy, create millions of good paying jobs, and improve the business climate.
  2. His presidency can save Americans money: Trump's supporters believe that he'll reduce taxes for middle class Americans, make medical insurance more affordable and eliminate burdensome regulations for business owners and corporations.
  3. His presidency can improve the self-esteem and quality of life of Americans: Trump's supporters believe that he'll "make America great again" by restricting immigration, criticizing the mainstream media's "fake news," quashing intrusive political correctness and reducing the size of the federal government.

While Trump's critics are focused on his administration's stumbles, his supporters believe that such attention is a waste of time.

They aren't swayed by accusations of collaboration with Russia to swing the election.

They're ignoring the commotion about his hiring of former lobbyists for key cabinet posts.

They weren't moved by the resignation, and associated controversy, of Gen. Michael Flynn or the firing of James Comey.

They dismiss…

  • the snark of John Oliver and Samantha Bee
  • the outrage of Bill Maher
  • the ribbing of SNL
  • the finger wags of the news media

… and the exasperation of his political foes.

The sole focus of Trump's supporters is WIIFM, and as long as they perceive that Trump can bring to fruition policies that address their particular needs and goals, they'll continue to give him their unwavering support - which will continue to frustrate his adversaries.

Commentary by Rafe Gomez, the co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing, a provider of multimedia content creation and sales support services to organizations around the world.

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