Thursday, January 21, 2010

Features tell; benefits sell

Whether or not our job title says Sales, we're all in sales. Every day we're promoting ourselves, a proposal, a service or product, concept or idea. We may be speaking one-to-one, leading a meeting or in front of a group. We may be face-to-face, on the phone or exchanging emails. No matter what or who, we need to think about what's going to motivate or persuade them. We're all tuned to a radio station: WII-fm. What's in it for me? All too often, we try to sell something based on what motivates us. And we talk too much about its features. A feature is what a product or service does; a benefit is what it does for the customer, client, end-user or decision maker. Seems like a simple concept, but it's surprisingly difficult to get your head around.

Say you sell screwdrivers. You might say, "Our Magnojet screwdriver has a magnetized tip." A potential customer would likely respond, "So what?" All you've given them is a feature. Turn it into a benefit: "Ever had trouble sinking a screw because you kept dropping it? Our Magnojet screwdriver has a magnetized tip so it holds the screw in place until you can sink it—even in tight places!" (Can you tell I've been there?) That's what your customer needs to feel—I've been there and this takes care of my problem. If you are in sales, check out Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine. Its a Weekly Multi-media Sales Jolt!

Of course, we need to apply this concept to sell ideas, too. Say you're proposing a new system for taking and processing orders. You can tell the group your proposal is more efficient or you can sell it by giving them the results of your research. You would have calculated the time to take and process orders under the old system and your proposed system. Then you'd calculate the costs based on salaries and demonstrate the time and dollars saved. Sold!

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