One of the common mistakes many sales people make when talking about their product or service is “feature dumping.” That’s when you spit out as many features of your product or service as you can and as many details about them as possible. Often this “pitch” comes before even finding out what the buyer really wants and needs.
This mistake not only has the potential of making you sound like everyone else (even if you think your features are better than everyone else), but take you way off track in your sales conversation. Your prospect will pick up on something you say and have questions about it. Most of the time the questions coming out end up not being anything that helps drive the sale forward, or demonstrates your value to the prospect.
In order to avoid this you’ll need to do a couple of things.
- Ask great questions to identify the buyers needs, criteria and goals. You can get a great guide to doing this by requesting our free Questions Report at the end of this article.
- Carefully listen to the answers
- Truly understand the difference between a Feature, an Advantage, and a Benefit which we’ll go into in a bit.
- Communicate back to the prospect the relevant benefits to their needs.
When many people first learn to focus on benefits, they often incorrectly use Advantages in place of Benefits. Here is a breakdown for you of the true difference. Using Benefits in place of Advantages with prospects can have a profound difference in your results.
Features are simply facts, data or information about your product or service. This includes things like:
- This car has four wheels and two bucket seats and it is red.
- This phone has 32 GB of memory.
- Your book will give you more exposure.
While you may need to discuss some of the features to explain what the solution is, don’t focus too much on it. Your customer is much more concerned with what it will do for them.
Advantages – One size doesn’t fit all
The next step up from features is advantages. This is what most “educated” sales people and unfortunately many sales and marketing books and articles will call benefits. Advantages, while better to use than Features, are not really benefits and not as powerful to use. An advantage shows how a product or service can be used or can help the customer. It is, in essence, an advantage explains how the Features work or what they do. It’s to generic to be useful to your buyer. You’d have the same list of Advantages for everyone. Here are some examples:
- The Maserati Quattroporte can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, giving you more thrills than any car you have ever driven before.
- This phone has 32 GB of memory which allows you to store hundreds of photos or videos.
- Your book will give you more exposure, which means more people will hear your message and recognize you as an authority in your field.
Many sales and marketing programs talk about advantages as if they are benefits and just leave it there. You are much better off if you do that than if you focus simply on features… but there is a better way. That better way is to focus as much as possible on true benefits.
Benefits – are what sell
Take the Maserati from above. If you were trying to sell this car to my son and told him how fast it accelerates and what a thrill he would get from it, you would make no traction with him (excuse the pun). There are a couple reasons for this; one is that he does not like thrill rides. He just doesn’t enjoy them. Secondly, and more importantly, he is legally blind. His vision is roughly equivalent to 20/800. He has no depth perception, no peripheral vision and the upper third of a normal field of vision is non-existent to him. The bottom line is that while the acceleration of the car may be an advantage to some, it is really of no benefit to him because he cannot drive.
For an advantage to truly be a benefit, it needs to be a benefit to your prospect, and it should be one that meets a need or desire the prospect has said they have, not one that you assume or think they have. It needs to be one they have explicitly expressed. It is part of the reason the questioning phase is so important: You cannot discuss benefits with the customer until you know what they think they need or want.
When you are presenting your solution, try to talk only about as many features as you can tie to an advantage that matches a need they have expressed. Discuss as many benefits with them as possible. That’s much more powerful than just showing the advantages. Here are a couple of examples for you:
- This phone has 32 GB or memory so you can store the hundreds of photos and videos of your kids that you said you wanted to have with you all the time.
- Your book will give you more exposure. Not only will more people hear your message, but you’ll also be recognized more easily as an expert. That will make it much easier to charge the higher prices that you said you want.
I encourage you to take some time and list out all of the features of your typical solution and write out several advantages to each. Also, write out several sample benefit statements for them so you get used to phrasing them that way.