This past week a client of ours asked, “How do I tell a feature from a benefit, and how can I promote it so it will have sales presentation impact?” Good question. To answer, let’s begin with a reasonable definition. A ‘feature’ is any part of your product or service that can be physically seen or touched. By this I mean it is ‘what the product or service IS.’ Nothing more. It contains each physical feature in regards to a hard goods-type product, and is the information contained on a brochure or any describing information regarding a service-type product. A ‘benefit’ on the other hand, is ‘what a product or service DOES SPECIFICALLY for that particular prospect or customer.’ Now, this is where my definition varies a bit from others in the training field. I have purposely added the phrase ‘specifically for that particular prospect or customer’ because the impact of how you extend and present your product benefits, can and will be different for each new presentation. Here is an example. For instance, let’s say your company produced unique marble countertops. As you point out all the intricate carving and craftsmanship on how your countertops were created you are covering only ‘features.’ The prospect can see these features without explanation and the presentation impact is only so-so. However, if this couple happens to live in the executive corporate world and finds they entertain top brass from other companies, now as you extend the benefits of your product and speak ‘specifically’ to the needs of your prospect, your presentation is really gaining in its strength and acceptablility. On the other hand, let’s say that the next folks into your display area are of a mundane nature, not out to impress anyone, but desire your marble countertops for the intrinsic value they will bring into their new home. So you, being the consummate salesperson, found that the extension of ‘benefits’ to the executive couple worked so wonderfully, that you decided to follow the same course of communication with the down-home folks. Result - NO SALE! Why? Because your presentation of product features and their extension into product benefits was not a targeted communication channel to the needs of this specific audience … the down-home folks. Therefore, your presentation impact was zero. It was not what they wanted to hear, nor did it make an emotional connection. Do you now understand why your extension of benefits must be specifically engineered to each new customer? Remember, a product ‘feature’ is what the product IS, nothing more. A ‘benefit’ is what the product can do to solve a problem, add value, and what it DOES SPECIFICALLY for that particular prospect or customer. Now that you understand the definition of features and benefits and how these definitions are applied, let’s create even more sales communication impact by moving to the next level of presentation. When we create communication impact, we do it through separation of information. In other words, instead of grouping a number of features together and offering their benefits in total, it is better to stair-step the process. By taking each product feature and making sure to extend only that feature’s benefits to the customer before moving to the next feature-benefit combination, you are creating higher value for your product or service. The higher the value created in the consumer’s mind, the less the price objections. Let’s look at another example for showing how this works. Many years ago, I went to a car dealership to purchase a new car. During the negotiation with a young salesperson, he was quick to see I was hesitating in making a buying decision. So, in his panic to sell us, he began throwing in all kinds of ‘extras’ for enhancing the value. They just kept coming without explanation, but each represented a radical attempt to close the deal. I listened, kept asking for more and getting it, and when all was said and done, paid no more for the car. There was no stair stepping of features and benefits to build value. To do this correctly, this salesperson should have produced one additional feature, only one, then promoted the benefits of that particular feature as to how it would be a positive benefit to our lives. By asking us ‘if’ he would make this extra concession, then would we be willing to purchase the vehicle at the specified price? Right here, he would have been getting a closing commitment through the use of feature and benefit selling. If he continued building value one feature and one extended benefit at a time, he soon would have built so much value into the product that we would have overcome our hesitation with price, and we would have instantly purchased. Surprisingly, if done correctly, not only purchased, but happily been willing to pay a higher price! The bottom line is this. The next time you present your product’s features, make sure you extend the benefits ‘specifically’ to that particular customer’s needs. When you do, you’ll find your sales communication impact will take a dramatic turn to the better. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Greg O. Bacon is the founder of MXMRQ® Corporation and Results Now!™ Business Growth Advisory Service helping business owners with annual sales from $0 - $50 million, and real estate homeowners, to grow and increase their profit potential to its fullest. Information, examples, and consulting fees for your business and real estate can be found at: www.mxmrq.com. 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