Selling Skills: Features and Benefits


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The first post in this sales series focused on prod­uct knowl­edge and the ways sales reps can use that infor­ma­tion to help make a sale. Pre­sent­ing prod­ucts to poten­tial cus­tomers is when under­stand­ing fea­tures and ben­e­fits becomes cru­cial to an effec­tive sales presentation.

In order for sales reps to be suc­cess­ful, they need to know how to trans­late the fea­tures of a prod­uct into ben­e­fits to the cus­tomer. An arti­cle from ClickZ sug­gests, “Focus on emo­tions, not intel­lect. Emo­tions are the gate­way to mak­ing a buy­ing deci­sion. Ben­e­fits are the lan­guage of emo­tion. Fea­tures are the lan­guage of logic. Even peo­ple who insist they buy log­i­cally or based on fea­tures do so because that’s what makes them feel better.”

To put this into per­spec­tive, think about why you buy clothes. If you were to buy purely on logic, you would only buy clothes to keep you warm. If you were to buy with emo­tion, you would buy from a store with the best sale, a designer with the best style, a line of cloth­ing made with the best mate­ri­als, etc. When you buy with emo­tion, you are look­ing for benefits.

Step One: Deter­mine Cus­tomer Desires, Needs and Problems

In order for sales reps to be able to trans­late the fea­tures of a prod­uct into ben­e­fits to the cus­tomer, they need to find out what the desires, needs, and prob­lems are for the cus­tomer. With that knowl­edge, the sales rep can explain the direct ben­e­fits of their product.

How does a sales­per­son find out the customer’s desires, needs, and problems?

Sim­ple. Some needs are uni­ver­sal: time, wealth, esteem, ease of use, con­ve­nience, and secu­rity. If the sales reps can uncover how their prod­uct meets each of these uni­ver­sal needs, they are one step closer to defin­ing why a cus­tomer needs their prod­uct. Some needs are more impor­tant to one cus­tomer than to another. For exam­ple, if a sales rep is try­ing to sell me sun­screen with a high sun-protection fac­tor, I would be more inclined to buy because of an expla­na­tion that focuses on how much longer I can stay out in the sun with­out get­ting burned ver­sus how inex­pen­sive the prod­uct is to buy. A dif­fer­ent cus­tomer may need a dif­fer­ent expla­na­tion to per­suade him or her to keep listening.

Another approach to uncov­er­ing needs is to ask cus­tomers what is impor­tant to them. If sales reps don’t ask, they may never know!

Step Two: Trans­late the Fea­tures Into Ben­e­fits to the Customer

Now that the sales­per­son under­stands the customer’s needs, he or she can tai­lor their descrip­tion to fit those needs.

Share these phrases with your sales reps to help them explain benefits:

What this means to you is…

This allows you to…

Using these phrases will help the sales rep put the fea­tures into words that relate directly to the customer’s needs. Going back to my exam­ple, if a sales rep uncov­ered my need for long last­ing sun­screen, he or she could explain the ben­e­fits of the sun­screen like this:

Sun­screen pre­vents the sun’s ultra­vi­o­let radi­a­tion from reach­ing the skin. Our sun­screen has an SPF of 30. What that means to you is that you can spend 30 times longer than you used to be able to with­out get­ting burned.

With this state­ment, I can pic­ture how I would ben­e­fit from pur­chas­ing the sun­screen. Per­son­al­iz­ing the ben­e­fits is the goal.

Do your reps strug­gle with trans­lat­ing fea­tures into ben­e­fits? Do they have a hard time uncov­er­ing the needs of poten­tial cus­tomers? If you’re not sure, lis­ten in on calls or call in your­self and see what it’s like to be a cus­tomer. Pro­vide tele­sales train­ing for your staff so they can become con­fi­dent sales reps that bet­ter under­stand buyer needs and can eas­ily match prod­ucts to meet those needs.

Stay Tuned: This post is the sec­ond in a series of three on help­ing reps close more sales. Com­ing up is the final post on ask­ing for the sale: a crit­i­cal and some­times uncom­fort­able step to clos­ing the sale. Find out how to ask for and close the sale with confidence!


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