Thursday, February 18, 2010

Features and Benefits

Basic Selling Lesson #2

Features and Benefits – What’s the big difference?

I remember my Sales Manager told me this before, “convert our product features into customer benefits and ultimately increase the number of productive calls you make in a day”.

Now I would like to rephrase what my Sales Manager said, “a product’s Feature can only describe or tell what the product is all about, but only custom-fit Benefits can convince the prospect to buy”. Of course, the features can certainly create a buyer’s interest but until a salesperson can convert that interest into custom-fit benefits, the buyer is still considered a prospect because he has not made up his mind into buying the product.

To make it simple, let’s define it this way – “Features only tell and custom-fit Benefits sell”.

Here are some examples


- has vitamins A & B

- automatic timer

- auto lock system

Translating this into benefits:

- Mr. Prospect our product is filled with vitamins A & B which will greatly make your kids stronger and healthier, therefore saving you cost for buying additional benefits (like vitamins or medicines).

- Mr. Prospect with the automatic timer settings in our air conditioner, you have the freedom to turn off the system by itself and then save electricity

- Mr. Prospect with our new auto lock system, you do not have to worry of leaving your car unlocked since you can choose a time delay for the automatic locking

Actually the great sales trainer Dick Gardner said it best, “features cost us money and benefits takes home the money”. While both are crucial for the sales process, the conversion of the features into benefits should be the main focus of a salesperson’s persuasion in the prospect’s mind.

Let me end this lesson by telling you a story.

Back when I was an Account Specialist for one of the biggest ice cream brands in the Philippines, I thought of getting a sideline to increase my monthly net earnings. During that early stage in my career, I already knew that being dependent in one income stream will not give me the kind of life I dreamed of.

On the weekends I joined an insurance company that sell investments, mutual funds, term-life insurance, health care, and death plans. I went there for three consecutive weekends to undergo training for different plan presentations. They taught us how to make a prospect’s list, how to get an appointment and etcetera. After that I was on my own to sell. Since I had a regular list of customers, thanks to my day job, I scheduled for an appointment with one of my closest customers who has an ice-cream shop (in the Philippines we call it a “suki customer”).

In my sales call, my presentation was superb. I was following what my sales insurance mentor taught me. I pushed for the higher benefit plans. I mentioned good examples and situations. I felt I had him in the palm of my hands but suddenly when I tried to close, he would not buy.

I got confused. He told me so many reasons why it was not good to buy, and one big reason he told me was “your products are good but I don’t think it can do anything for me”. When I heard those words, I immediately realized that I was not acting as a co-buyer to the customer.

It dawned on me that I was just presenting to him and mentioned only other people’s stories but I never really converted it to his personal Benefits. I knew then that I have to give him what he needs. Then I remembered this phrase “Features tell, Benefits sell”. So with that in mind, I immediately went back to the first stage of negotiation. I went through all the presentation again and this time I mentioned the features and custom-fit benefits that he would gain from it.

I ended up selling my first insurance sale, and gaining one important lesson that I will never forget.

Again it is this simple, “Features tell, Benefits Sell”.

Well that’s it for today. Join me again for my next coming post.

Dedicated to your selling success,

Sales Mentor TM


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