FEATURES AND BENEFITS: SO WHAT?
How To Avoid Boring Your Customer To Death . . . . . . By using FAB – Features, Advantages and Benefits
First let’s get the terminology sorted out.
Features, Advantages and Benefits are technical sales terms, and one of the first sales techniques rookie salespeople need to learn.
A Feature describes a fact or characteristic about a product or service. It usually says what the product or service is.
A Benefit is something your customer has said they want. It shows what your product or service will do for them.
An Advantage is something we think might be a Benefit to a customer.
The trouble is that most salespeople who don’t know the difference are much happier talking Features AT customers rather than finding out Benefits FROM customers.
Rabbiting on about your organisation and its amazing people, products, history, service, delivery, blah blah blah, is just too comfortable.
After all, it’s what you know a lot about. But as far as your customer goes, it’s at best irrelevant, and at worst, positively off-putting.
Why Features Are Dangerous In The Wrong Hands
So, you’re in a sales meeting and you’re inadvertently rambling on about how big your company is, how long it’s been going, how many branches you have, how many employees, what your services are, your pride in customer experience levels, your inside leg measurement . . . Get the picture?
What’s happening on the other side of the desk?
Well, 3 things usually:
The customer is falling asleep.
The customer, awake but bored, is wondering (not for the first time) why salespeople never listen.
The customer, still awake, and trying to relieve the boredom, amuses themself by adding up the cost of all these Features they don’t want, and concludes that whatever they’re being sold, it’s definitely going to be too expensive.
(This, by the way, is one of the main causes of the dreaded Price Objection. We look at Overcoming Objections here.)
Burbling irrelevant Features aimlessly at customers inevitably paves the way for them to assume they’ll be paying for them.
How To Avoid The Features Trap (And If You’re In It – How To Stop Digging)
The only way to avoid falling in to this hole in the first place is to make sure you’re asking your customer the right questions at the start to discover what they need from you. Rather than firing off a blunderbuss of Features and hoping some hit the target.
Then and only then can you confidently link what the customer wants (the Benefits to them) with the specific Features of your offering which support their explicit Benefits.
You’re In A Hole, Why Make It Bigger?
If you do find yourself dumping Features on a customer then at least make sure you give them some clues as to what’s in it for them.
The way to do this is to use the linking phrase “which means that . . .”
Which means that you turn a Feature in to an Advantage.
“We are a big company (Feature), which means that we have the resources to help solve your problem” (Advantage).
Remember, an Advantage is still only our best guess at what a customer might be looking for.
In a live customer encounter use this only as first aid to get you out of trouble, and always check whether it is a Benefit or not by immediately using a follow-up question like “How does that sound?”, “What do you feel about that?” (More on Questioning Techniques here.)
3 Steps To Eradicating Features Dumping Forever
Before a meeting, or to test just how beneficial your product/service offering is to a customer, use this 3 step process to really drill down deep in to your Features Advantages Benefits structure.
List all your Features
For each Feature think of at least two Advantages.
For each Advantage explore, as best you can, from a customer’s point of view, how that could make their life easier, more productive, or less stressful. And, crucially, how that might make them FEEL.
As you work on each stage of this process it will get harder, that’s a good thing because it means you’re starting to empathise with the customer.
If at any time you’re stuck, then here are two simple words to get you moving again: “So what?”
If you can’t answer that sensibly, then you’re probably still talking Features, and if you’re talking Features, you’re not only boring your customer, you’re talking the sale to death.