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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Going Beyond Features And Benefits

How many times have you been told in training courses that people don’t buy features, they only buy benefits? This is very true, as the brain doesn’t compute what the product ‘does’, it only listens to what it will do for me. A long list of features only confuses the prospect, as they have to do the work in converting the meaning of the feature to how it will benefit them.

However…do you just stop at the benefit? Or do you go beyond that, to appeal to the emotional desires of the prospect?

You see, prospects have individual as well as organisational needs, and their viewpoint may well be very different to yours. They need to know what choosing your products and services will mean to them, in the short and long term.

‘Meaning’ is a key driver to making decisions. Look to this example:

Salesperson: “So, Mr Prospect, by taking our extended credit terms, you benefit by spreading the cost over a longer period, helping your cash-flow and freeing up finances for other purposes”

Here, the salesperson has taken a feature and added the benefit. For many prospects, that may be enough. But what if you created a real meaning to the conversation?

Salesperson: “So, Mr Prospect, how beneficial would it be to you to spread the cost over a longer period, meaning you would be able to invest in other areas of the business, making your new marketing plans easier to put into practice?”

This way, you are helping the prospect not only see the benefits, but also see what your products and services will actually mean to them as a company. You will be creating a clear picture in their mind about how the correct decision (choosing you as their supplier) will make a meaningful difference to their business. And notice that by phrasing the choice as a question, you make the prospect think about the answer rather than trying to find reasons to disprove you statement.

Think about how the benefits of what you offer adds value and extra opportunities to them. They will go beyond the benefits and have a deeper reason for choosing you!

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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