What is Feature-Benefit Selling?
Ok, so you know your product inside out and can talk about its features endlessly. But features alone don’t sell a product. If you want to improve your sales and win new customers you must learn the secrets of feature-benefit selling.
The best way to explain feature-benefit Selling is to provide an example.
“Think back to the last time you decided to buy a new computer, camera or some other technology-based product. Did you return home empty-handed because the store sales person used lots of technical jargon, but failed to translate this jargon into understandable benefits?”
This is not an unusual story. Avoid making this mistake when you’re selling your products and services by describing a relevant benefit for each product feature you talk or write about.
When you do this you’re using feature-benefit selling.
A short time ago I was looking for a new camera and I came upon this video. It’s a good example of how not to sell your products.
The sales person in this video is both articulate and intelligent but has no understanding of feature-benefit selling. I chose not to buy the camera online and found a good local shop with a sales person who knew how to sell feature-benefits.
In the paragraphs below I am going to describe a simple technique that will enable you to translate your technical product knowledge into readily understandable feature-benefits. It’s not diificult to understand and use. Once you grasp the technique your sales will improve and your confidence in your ability to sell will increase 300%!
Customers Buy Benefits not Technical Features
Well, there may be some exceptions to this. I expect you’ve met or know technical nerds who buy products based purely on their technical specification. They do this because they know exactly what they want and are well able to make detailed technical comparisons between competing products in order to choose the one that’s best for them.
However, most customers aren’t technical nerds, and it’s not unusual for them to be unclear about exactly what they want. I’m have to admit that I’m often in this situation when I want to buy a new piece of equipment or a gadget. I need help making up my mind about the best product for my needs..
When you meet customers like this you’ve got to make sure that first of all you understand their requirements. Next you must identify the product features and benefits that meet those requirements. If you cover these two steps well, you’ll be in a much better position to make a sale. Also you’ll avoid putting your customer off by loading him or her up with a lot of technical information that is more likely to confuse than help.
Don’t Expect Your Customers to Work Out the Benefits
Even though your customers may be intelligent and know a little about the products or services you’re selling, most of them won’t recognise the benefits of the product or service you’re selling.
You know your product inside out and are probably very confident of your expert status. But until you take the time and effort to translate your technical knowledge into clearly understandable features and benefits your customer won’t grasp how the product meets his or her needs and will not make a decsion to buy it.
Here’s an example:
SALESMAN: When you publish a press release on our internet site it will be available to magazine publications in our Group (Feature).
CUSTOMER: So what?
SALESMAN: This means that every time we accept a press release from your company it’ll be published in 5 to 6 other magazines which are read by over 55,000 readers each month (Feature-Benefit).
This is an example of a feature-benefits statement.
How to Develop and Use Feature-Benefit Statements
The following technique is a very simple and easy to use – with a bit of practice.
Start by creating a table with three columns:
• In the first column, make a list of all the features of your product
• In the second column write down the advantages associated with these features
• In the final column of your table list the associated benefits
The column on advantages will help you expand the features and link them more easily to the benefits.
For example, the sales person might say:
“This camera has an advanced automatic focus system (feature) which will enable you to take photographs of subjects however far they are away from the camera (advantage), and will ensure that you always get high quality photographs (benefit).”
I think you’ll agree there’s no doubt about the value of the feature described. I’d want this feature on my camera.
Now you need to do some work:
Use the three column table to create features-advantages-benefits statements for each of the features of your product so that you can select the feature-benefits most appropriate for different customers. Make sure all the important features are included in your table. You won’t need to use all your feature-benefit statements with every customer, only thosethat are most appropriate.
Its a good idea to use a folder for the feature-advantage-benefits of each of your products and review each of the statments from time to time to keep them fresh in your mind. You may also want to change and expand your list as your experience of using the technique grows.
Feature-benefit selling can be used in a wide range of sales and marketing situations. Once you master the technique you can also use it when writing sales articles and letters and when making sales presentations. Your feature-advantage-benefit statements can also be use when training new sales staff.
It’s important that you feel comfortable using this technique. The best way to ensure this is to practice. Test your feature-advantage-benefit statements by role-playing them with a colleague. It may seem strange at first, especially if you’ve always been a features only person, but once you’ve mastered the technique you’ll not look back – I promise.
Where You Can Use Feature-Benefit Selling
We touched on this above, but its quite important, so I’ll repeat myself a bit.
Using feature-benefit statements rather than just features isn’t only important in sales situations. The feature-benefit approach can also be used in any situation where you want to persuade people about a product, service or idea. If you do this it will help to ensure that the facts you’re trying to communicate are better understood and seen as relevant to the individuals and groups involved.
Try using the features-benefits approach in the following situations:
• Making presentations to customer groups
• Communicating new ideas to friends and colleagues
• Writing letters and articles
However, it’s in one to one sales situations that feature-benefit selling is really powerful. Successful sales people, marketers and copy-writers have been proving this for years!
Use Feature-Benefit Selling to Beat Your Competitors
If you understand the importance of the rule “sell feature-benefits not features” you’ll improve your chances of selling successfully and become more effective in competitive sales situations where your competitor hasn’t learned the importance of this rule or hasn’t learned how to use it properly.
Make sure you take action and start your feature-benefit selling today.