I have been reading a few blogs recently that go along the lines of "don't sell your features, sell your benefits instead" along the lines of "features tell, benefits sell" and I've left a few comments saying share your features AND benefits.
In fact, you need to go one step further to make it really easy for the prospective customer to join the dots and understand - you need to explain Features, Advantages & Benefits.
Definitions of Features Advantages & Benefits
First lets get a few definitions out of the way.
Features are a factual attribute of your product or service.
- The iron bar is made from leaded steel.
- I am a qualified chartered accountant.
Both statements describe features.
Advantages are a positive description of what the feature means and are the link through to benefits.
- The leaded steel bar is softer than normal steel so it is easier to machine.
- Because I am a chartered accountant I have an excellent understanding of finance that is much stronger than the majority of business advisers.
Benefits are what the advantages mean to the prospective customer and explain the "what's in it for me" factor. This is the return or value that the product or service provides.
- The leaded steel bar which is softer and easier to machine will mean that you can run the lathe at a faster speed, increase your productivity, shorten lead times and reduce costs.
- Working with a business coach who is a chartered accountant and has a strong knowledge of the way finance work means that I can guide you better to strategies that will increase your profit and cashflow.
Yes benefits motivate and sell.
People only buy because they expect to get something back which is worth more to them than they are giving up in terms of price and effort and benefits clarify what they can expect back.
Benefits are one of the emotional elements of the buying/selling process - the other is the pain or cost of the problem. Benefits answer the "what do I get" question.
Benefits can be exciting or they can be a relief to a nagging worry or fear.
Features Give Confidence
Features are the logical element of buying/selling process.
They provide the rational reasons that make the benefits believable.
Features answer the "how does that work?" question and are part of the answer to "why should I believe you?"
A sales pitch that is pure benefits will smack of hype.
"Gather around and get your credit card out. With this steel, your factory productivity will increase by 30% and your costs will reduce by 25%. Limited quantities available. Buy now or miss out!"
A pure benefit based sales pitch doesn't answer the question "because...?" Because is a magic word that has been proven in tests to be extremely influential in getting people to agree to things.
Advantages Link Features & Benefits
Advantages are important because they provide the link from feature to benefit which is often not understood by the prospect.
It's still part of the "because" element which helps to make the logic clear.
"This PC with the XYZ Rocket 7 computer chip will make you much more productive at work"
A statement like the one above has a feature (the computer has the XYZ Rocket 7 chip) and a benefit (you will be much more productive at work) but it doesn't make a lot of sense.
The advantage of the feature which creates the benefit is missing.
If we insert an advantage - it is one hundred times faster than your existing computer chip - we get something that is much more compelling.
"This PC with the XYZ Rocket 7 computer chip which is one hundred times faster than your existing computer will make you much more productive at work."
Putting The Features Advantages Benefits Model To Work
There are four steps:
- Identify the important features of your product or service
- For each feature identify one or more advantages
- For each advantage identify one or more benefits
- Put the features, advantages and benefits together in compelling statements and practice using them. Try them in the FAB order and then reverse going from benefit through "because" to the advantage and feature.
"This computer will make a huge improvement to your productivity (benefit) because it is one hundred times faster than your existing PC ( advantage) thanks to the XYZ rocket 7 (feature) which is the very latest on the market (feature)."
The statement also works as benefit + because + feature + advantage.
What If You Only Sell Features?
Your sales pitch isn't very relevant or compelling.
You are leaving it up to your prospect to draw their own conclusions and to work from feature through advantages to benefits.
Some might and come to the right answer, some might try and come up with the wrong answer and many won't bother. If you don't make the effort to link features, advantages and benefits why should they if others are after the business.
And if there is no link from features through to benefits, there is no motivation to buy. No logical or emotional reasons.
What If You Only Sell Benefits?
I showed earlier that a pure benefits based pitch with no regard for features and benefits can be thought of as hype.
"Get Rich Quick" - two important benefits.
It may attract attention and emotional appeal because it is a benefit that the prospect wants but it lacks substance.
While the benefit is wanted, the prospect is being asked to take a lot on faith and an uncertain prospect is usually one who says "No" or "I want to think it over".
What If You Sell On Features & Advantages
You have gone part of the way since you have described a generic "good" of the feature but you've not made it personal.
The prospective customer may see the link to what they want and their mind may take the advantage and turn it into a relevant benefit or they might not understand and see how that particular advantage solves their problem.
If you are selling face to face, you need to be linking the features and advantages to the benefits that the particular customer is looking for. If you are selling off the page, you need to be writing to solve the problems of your customer avatar.
How Do You Know If You Have The Features Advantages & Benefits Right?
Use the "so what?" test.
Imagine that you are a prospective customer and if you read through a statement and you don't have an answer to so what test, you haven't gone far enough.
Benefits - The More Specific The Better
The benefits are what the customer will get in return for buying but a common problem is to ask a prospect to trade a certain cost (buy this for £5,000) for uncertain benefits (you will get increased profit).
There is certainly a case but it is not compelling so try to make your benefits as specific as possible.
Building up the finance case is easier for some products than others (see Competing On Value) - but making a specific finance case - buy this for £5,000, get your money back in 3 months and earn an extra £10,000 of profit within 12 months - makes the justification much stronger.
If you can't spell it out in numbers, you need to give the buyer a chance to experience in their own minds what purchase will be like. The stronger the picture you paint, the stronger the emotional desire to buy.
What Do You Think About Features, Advantage & Benefits?
I have written more than I intended to but what do you think about features, advantages and benefits.
I won't pretend that this is cutting edge stuff as the features advantages benefits model has been around for many years but I don't see it used well. There is still far too much attention on features and forcing the potential customer to do the mental work needed to find advantages and benefits.
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