Why Features & Benefits Don’t Work in Today’s World

ID-10036035 (2)How many times have you heard that you shouldn’t just present features of your product, but you should also reiterate how those features benefit the prospect?

It has been the staple diet of most salespeople over decades of selling, and is used in most sales interactions.

However, what if the benefit isn’t?

That is, what if one of the benefits highlighted on one of your products actually isn’t of any use to the prospect? What does it then become? Yes, a useless feature that adds no value to the prospect and probably makes them want the price reducing.

For example, if you heard this interaction between a salesperson and a customer, what does it prove?

Salesperson: Yes, our new WX model has great acceleration, which means it can get you out of trouble if an accident is imminent, and get you away from the lights quicker than anyone else!

Customer: Mmm, actually my boy-racer days are long-gone, and economy is much more important to me these days, so the great acceleration figures don’t interest me. Sorry, I’ll look at something else.

Benefits always are product-related and can often just sound as bland as the product features, especially if they don’t relate to the customer’s real needs or wants.

Instead, identify what your product or service’s unique strengths are and how they relate to the specific concepts that are important and valuable to that specific client at that moment.

Features and benefits only work when customers actually recognise and accept the value of the benefit to their situation. In the above illustration, the acceleration in the car was not only a non-benefit to the customer, but it also caused him to re-evaluate whether he wanted the product at all.

What you need to find is the value proposition that means most to this customer and then talk about that proposition.

Is the customer interested in long-term, fixed-rate savings for his family’s future? Then highlight the stability of the portfolio you are offering, its consistent returns and the stable interest rate it offers.

Is the customer willing to take a risk and go for the advantageous higher returns? Then highlight the better returns of a different portfolio, and how you could help him mitigate the risks by putting some money aside in a different plan as well as building up a nice nest-egg for the future.

The benefits will only be beneficial if they appeal to the criteria that the individual sees as important to them.

So, identify what unique strengths your company’s offerings have for specific situations. If it’s possible that you are able to see a niche in a particular market, you may be able to offer strengths that would hit a market opportunity others haven’t yet tapped into.

Those unique strengths can be made into benefits that appeal to companies or individuals who have specified needs and to whom the benefits can be laser-beamed into their unique situation. By recognising that features and benefits are now just too generic for today’s business world, you create an offering that is right for the particular market and build a reputation for knowing a business’s real reason for choosing a solution – unique needs and wants for their unique customer base.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
(Image by renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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How To Justify The Value Of What You Are Offering To The Prospect

ID-100240513 (2)I met with a prospect not long ago and we spoke at length about his concerns and how he needed his salespeople to move away from the status quo and start bringing in more sales. Without that happening, he may have to make redundancies.

After discussing what we could do to assist him, he asked a question that is subliminally being asked by every buyer we meet; that is, “How can you justify the value you say you offer?”

It’s a very good question, the answer to which can make or break a sale.

The prospect basically wants you to prove that what you are offering will bring a better return on his investment than someone else doing the job or not doing anything at all.

So, it’s always good to have a plan on how you can justify the investment the prospect will be making. And the best way to do this is to ensure the prospect owns it – that is, he or she perceives the value through their own eyes rather than yours. Of course, your product is the best thing on the planet, knocking the competition sideways but if the customer doesn’t believe that, then it isn’t. Period. Sorry.

Ask yourself these five questions before you discuss justifying the value of your offering:

1) Which parts of the buyer’s business will be affected, impacted and measured by using your products?
2) Who is the main stakeholder in the department(s) that will be most affected by your services?
3) What will be the impact of your solution and over what time period?
4) What back-up facilities will be needed that you can provide?
5) How quickly will the investment be covered and how soon will they actually make money on what you are selling?

These can then be broken down so the buyer sees the value in the areas that are most important to them. For example, the parts of the buyer’s business that might be affected could include profits, reduction in costs, increased revenues, cost-avoidance, intangible benefits, etc.

The importance of involving the affected stakeholder in the decision-making process will be obvious when you discuss what the returns will be, using their figures not yours.

You should be able to prove the figures you quote from case studies or experiences that can be proved. Also, analyse over what time period the buyer will be looking at to gain a clearer picture of when they wish to see the returns on their investment.

If your back-up services can justify the initial spend, then there will be specific items that will prove their worth in the long term.

Buyers want to know when the break-even/profitability point will be reached. This is when the cumulative total benefits, including the increase in revenues and the reduction in costs, exceed the cumulative investments made to gain and implement the products and services that you have offered.

When all of these elements have been assessed by the buyer and seen to be favourably in their advantage, you will be able to justify the initial investment, which now becomes less important than ever, because they see the value of your solution over the period of time that will mean so much to them.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Solving Prospects’ Problems The Easy Way

The salesperson of today is a problem-solver who works in conjunction with the prospect to identify any issues that his organisation has and then uses that information to present solutions to the prospect’s problems or situations. Before you make your sales presentation, the tricky part of this situation is ensuring that the problem that the prospect is attempting to solve is the actual problem that exists.

For example, when you first speak to a prospect, she might say that she needs a specific type of software. You could just make a presentation on the software and that would be the end of it. Or instead, you could ask the prospect questions in order to determine what the problem is that they are trying to solve. Then during your sales presentation, you will be able to:

  • Offer a better product or solution than the specific one the prospect asked for
  • Offer a broader solution that the prospect didn’t even know they needed or wanted
  • Offer additional products or services that enhance your sale and also exceed the prospect’s expectations
  • Identify additional needs that the prospect has which you can then offer to resolve with other products or services
  • Determine that you don’t actually have a product or service that will solve the prospect’s problem

The final point above may not seem like a solution you would want to offer. But the fact is that telling a prospect the truth will establish you as a reliable, trustworthy source of information for the next time they need something.

The first step in problem-solving is to ensure that the problem the prospect is trying to solve is the actual problem that needs solving.

One simple problem-solving tool is to use something called ‘The Five Whys.’ It is simple because it uses the question ‘why’ up to five times in order to help get to the root of a problem.

But remember that it is indeed a simple tool – if you are dealing with a more complex problem, you may need to learn other problem-solving skills. An example of how to use this tool is below. Notice that in this case, it’s not necessary to use five ‘why’ questions to get to the root of the problem.

Prospect: I might be interested in a copy of your ABC billing software.

You: OK, may I ask why you’re interested

Prospect: We are having problems keeping track of customer bills.

You: I see. When you say ‘having problems’, what might they be?

Prospect: We do it by hand, but now our customer base has grown so much that we can’t keep up. Correspondence in general is difficult.

You: I understand how your customer base has grown, so why does that make correspondence difficult?

Prospect: Because we have about 10 different pieces of information that have to go out to different customers in addition to the bills. Keeping all that in order is quite a challenge.

You: It sounds to me like you need more than a billing system – it sounds like a customer contact management system is what you really need. Why don’t I show you some of the benefits it could provide?

By digging deeper into the prospect’s business challenges, you actually find there are bigger problems that need to be sorted, and this is one way it can be achieved. Use this tool when appropriate and you’ll see it helps you solve prospects’ problems easier in the long run.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training


(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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