Recently someone asked me the difference between Features and Benefits. I know that you know the answer to that question and in fact many of the people who visit the website could easily have written a good reply but I was reminded of an excellent way of demonstrating the difference that I heard from a speaker when I was in Birmingham last year.

The simple way to answer to the question is to define the three words that we, in sales, use more than any other; Features, Needs and Benefits.

A Feature is something that defines your product or service. If you are selling cars for instance, a feature may be that this car has a very efficient engine, you have a full range of metallic colours or you have a CD player in all of your cars. A feature my also be that you have been in business for 25 years and have won many awards for your service.

A Need is a customer requirement.

A Benefit is a feature that satisfies a need.

Using the Features mentioned above, consider the following example:

This car has a very efficient engine (feature) so that you don’t have to fill the tank very often (benefit).

This car has a full range of metallic colours (feature) so that your wife can have exactly the colour she wants (benefit)

We have been in business for 25 years and have won many awards for our service (feature), so you can be sure we are going to give you the best service available (benefit).

Notice the phrase “so that”. This helps to remind us to provide the benefit that the customer really wants.

Okay… that’s simple enough. But is that enough? To be really certain that we are, in fact, getting to the heart of the customer’s needs we often have to go further than that.

There is a game that I play in my training sessions that I learnt last year, and I truly wish I could remember the great speaker I learnt it from so that I can credit him for the idea. (If you know who it is please write to me). The game is called “I don’t care!” and the way it works is this.

Get your sales colleagues together in pairs. One is playing the customer and one the sales person. The sales person starts by giving the customer a feature of your product or service, then the customer says “I don’t care!”

The challenge here is for the sales person to continue refining what he or she is saying but each time the customer will say “I don’t care!” until the customer finds that, in fact, the salesperson says something that the customer does really care about.

Let’s give it a go.

Sales person “All our cars have a CD player installed.”

Customer “I don’t care!”

Sales person “This means that you can listen to your favourite music in the car.”

Customer “I don’t care!”

Sales person “This means that you will be more relaxed when you are driving.”

Customer “I don’t care!”

Sales person “Being relaxed on long trips may just keep you away from that accident saving the life of you and your children.”

Customer “Ah…. Well I care about that.”

See what I mean? Let’s try another.

Sales person “Installing our pumps will reduce the need to shut down your equipment for maintenance.”

Customer “I don’t care!”

Sales person “If you don’t have to shut down you will save R100,000 a year.”

Customer “I don’t care!”

Sales person “If you save that much on your maintenance budget you will probably get promoted.”

Customer “I don’t care!”

Sales person “If you get promoted you will earn more money and get a bigger car.”

Customer “I care about that.”

Give this a go with your sales team during your meeting today, and when it works let me know.


Blog, Featured

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