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Sales 'newbies' this is why you should explain 'Benefits'

Here's a working definition of these terms for you:

'Benefits' give people something they want.

'Features' are the technical characteristics which make the benefits possible.

Let's take a medium-complicated product as an example, such as a new-generation cellular phone, a good quality bicycle or a hybrid car.

Now make a list of the technical characteristics of this item. Here's some from a car revue |that I found on the web:


Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS)

Active Control Engine Mount

Advanced Electronic Climate Control

Aerodynamic Drag Coefficient

Bluetooth technology

Brake Assist

Cruise Control

DVD Navigation System

Electro Chromatic Mirrors

Electro Multi Vision Display (EMV)

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)

Flush underbody panels

Four-Wheel Drive

Headlamp Level Control System

Heated Leather Seats

High Intensity Discharge headlamps (HID headlamps)

Impact Protection Features

Intelligent Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)

LED (Light Emitting Diode)

Lexus Hybrid Drive

Mark Levinson Sound System

As a salesperson, you could just learn this list by heart and play it back to every prospect. And in doing so, you might think that at least some of the points mentioned would be interesting and attractive to your customer.

But you don't know which features are relevant for any given individual. Nor can you be sure that they can interpret and see the point of the technical description of a feature.

Doing that is the role of the competent salesperson.

Let's take a couple of features and work them through into the benefits that they deliver.

Salesperson, 'It's got ACIS.'

Customer, 'Really. What's that?'

(Acronyms are notorious for being terms that those-in-the-know like to use to demonstrate their familiarity with a subject – and which the average person finds baffling and off-putting.)

Salesperson: 'It's the Acoustic Control Induction System.'

Customer, 'Really. What's that?'

Salesperson: 'It's the system that controls induction acoustics.'

Customer thinks, 'Why did I bother asking?'

But instead of going around the techno-gibberish loop again, it is much better for both the customer and the salesperson if this feature is explained in terms of the benefit that it delivers.

Lexus has a stab at that in their brochure:

Rather like an athlete, an engine performs better when it breathes more deeply. One way to increase the amount of air entering the engine is to optimise the length of the intake manifold. At a certain engine speed, the airflow through the intake manifold increases naturally as a result of physical forces at work in the induction process. The effect is a little like that of a supercharger. Normally, this extra rush of air happens at only one particular engine speed.

But that isn't quite good enough, because we still haven't got to 'pure' benefit.

 What the 81 word description above really boils down to is,

'You get extra engine power because of a clever design feature.'
That's easier to understand isn't it? And there is a good chance that the customer will like this benefit. Contrast that with 'ACIS'; unless you are a car-nerd, what chance is there that this term is meaningful to you?

Let's translate one more feature: 'Headlamp Level Control System'

Is that good? This is what the brochure says:

'Traditionally, a heavy load makes ordinary headlamps point skywards, which reduces the spread of the beam and dazzles oncoming drivers.'

If it was me writing it, I'd say,

'Even if there is a big load in the back of your car, your headlights will not point up in the sky, dazzling oncoming traffic and reducing road illumination, because the Headlamp Level Control System automatically corrects the headlamp height setting.'

I don't want to toot my own trumpet too loud, but doesn't that get the point (which is the benefit this feature provides to the driver) across in a more understandable way?

You can do this with any worthwhile feature. So don't baffle prospects with a list of features, instead tell them how relevant items will deliver benefits.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

The Selling for Engineers manual

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