How do you know when to use a
product's features or product's benefits during the sales
© 2007 David A. Peterson
Average sales reps tend to accidentally
mess up these two words in the sales cycle. The words are -
features and benefits. In fact these two words are so loosely
used by the average reps that they often say them together
really fast, almost as if they were one word
In reality they are two very
important but two very different words. Knowing when and how
to use them in the sales cycle can make the difference in
converting a prospect into a customer.
are unique characteristics that your product has to offer a
prospect. They are often listed on
the retail box or placed on sales pamphlets that are left with
the prospect. Many times they are bullet point after bullet
point of exactly what your product or service provides.
your product would look just like everyone else's product in
are what the unique characteristics of your product can
actually do for a person or business. Benefits
are how your features will help the prospect conduct their
business in an easier, faster, or even more profitable
If Features are
line after line of unique characteristics that your customers
may need, then Benefits are the hooks that catch the customers
and makes them want your product over your competitors.
During a typical sales cycle of
open, probe, pitch, and close you will undoubtedly hear the
needs that your product's features can fill. Average sales
reps will seize on the feature that can best help the
prospect. They will then pitch the appropriate feature that
fills the need.
"Jimmy thanks for hearing me out. I appreciate that you
call month after month trying to get my business. But as I
told you countless times before I need the new computer you
are trying to sell me to be at least 3Ghz."
Average Sales Rep:
"Mr. Smith as I have mentioned before my new dual core
computer runs at 3.5 GHz and has 2 GB of Ram. It has the
fastest video card produced and comes with dual monitors for
"Jimmy I just need to shop around."
Average Sales Rep:
"Please do; you will find our product is the best. Do
you mind if I follow-up with you?..."
What happened? Why didn't Mr.
Smith buy the new computer? All of the features that he needed
were there. They were all uncovered correctly in the probing
section of the sales cycle. Still - no sale?
opportunity for the average sales rep is to realize that
prospects do not buy on features alone.
They need to be convinced that A: They actually need those
features, even though they said they needed them, and B: That
those features can do something that can help the prospect
advance his/her business.
Professional sales reps take a
widely known secret and use it on every call. Prospects do not
buy on features alone they buy on the benefit that those
unique characteristics provide.
"Sammy thanks for hearing me out. I need the new
computer you are trying to sell me to be at least 3 GHz."
Rep: "Mr. Smith I understand
the need for computing speed in today's marketplace. The
features of my product go above and beyond what your
business needs. However my product will also benefit you by
allowing you to be much more productive which should in turn
allow you to leave the workplace at a normal hour. Not only
will you be able to leave work on time but your stress level
will probably drop in half with this much computing
"I certainly want better working hours and less stress.
So you can give both of those to me...?"
The point of the two examples
is that prospects rarely buy on features alone. Features just
fill the prospects needs. Professional Sales Reps realize that
they have to make their prospects want their product and their
product only. So they make their prospect want their product
by showing how the benefits will actually improve that
person's business or in the case above improve their life.
Really, who doesn't want better
hours, or better working conditions? How about something that
saves them money? It's not the features that will make the
sale, it is what those features will do for the individual you
are selling that will allow the deal to progress.
You need both features and
benefits in the sales cycle. Typically you will be defining a customers
needs in the probing cycle. You will be evaluating which of
your product's features would best help fill the customer's
needs while you are probing.
Then during the pitching
section of the sales cycle you will restate their needs and
make them want your product. How do you make them want
it? By showing how your product benefits them as an individual.
By painting a picture with the benefits the prospect will
actually want your product over your competitor.
If you are an average sales rep
start listening to your pitch. Did you list out all of the
features of your product during the call? Or, did you paint a
picture of how those features will benefit the individual you
were talking to?
"features&benefits," it's identify which
features they need then provide them the benefits of those
Been There - Done That
Peterson's Search Engine Optimization Guide
send all correspondence to: email@example.com