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Common Questions and Answers
If you’ve been in sales for awhile you’re probably very familiar with the saying, “Features tell, benefits sell.” Features are the things that your product does, while benefits are the ways that those features will help your customers. In other words, features are logical and benefits are emotional. And sales is all about creating an emotional state in your prospect that will encourage them to buy from you. To that end, benefits statements are a powerful tool.
For example, if you’re selling office furniture to a prospect, a desk’s features might include the fact that it’s made of steel or that it has an ergonomic design. But the benefits statements for those features might sound like, “This desk will save you money because it’s so durable. And you’ll have the security of knowing that it’s designed in a way that will protect your health.” Or you could take a different tack and say something like, “This prestigious desk is made of high-quality materials and will impress clients who visit your office.”
Any given feature that your product offers might have several potential benefits associated with it. Ideally, you would use whichever benefit will have the strongest affect on the prospect. Most of the time, the only way to know which benefits are important to her is to ask. Finding your prospect’s hot-button issues and concerns is an important part of the qualification process. And while some prospects will come right out and tell you what they’re worried about, others won’t say anything unless you come right out and ask the questions.
Once you’ve ferreted out your prospect’s desires and fears, you can match those emotions with the appropriate benefits statements. Frequently used benefits phrases include convenient, saves time, saves money, secure, prestigious, and easy to use. With a little brainstorming you can probably come up with many more benefits that apply to different features of your product. Don’t forget to look at features that aren’t specific to one product, such as fast shipping or on-premise installation.
A benefits statement is a way of showing the prospect how your product meets his need. Start by repeating back the prospect’s need as you understand it. For example, you can say something like, “You mentioned earlier that you hate having a desk that gets dinged up easily, right?” Then pause and give him a moment to either correct you or agree with you. Assuming he agrees, you can hit him with the benefit statement: “Well, with this desk, you’ll have peace of mind because you’ll know that it’s exceptionally sturdy and can take whatever you dish out.”
Keep in mind that benefits statements are effective only if they target something that this specific prospect actually wants or needs. If you don’t take the time to uncover those needs before you start selling, you’re shooting in the dark. In the above example, if you hadn’t probed for the prospect’s motivation and discovered it was wanting to have a conveniently sturdy desk, you might have trotted out the “saves you money” benefit statements instead. Because the prospect doesn’t particularly care about saving money, you might actually have demotivated him from buying instead of moving him closer to the purchase.
Before you head out to sell a product, you must thoroughly understand its features and also know what benefits you can associate with each. In fact, it’s a good idea to prepare a list of several benefits for each product. And as your company updates its product offerings and add new ones, you’ll need to adjust your list as well. Knowing your benefits statements before you head into an appointment will help you to sell far more effectively.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.