Features and Benefits

Nobody who bought an alarm clock wanted an alarm clock…


Last week I was running a sales training workshop with a group of experienced sales people. Some had been on previous training programmes over the years and all of them thought they could explain the difference between a Feature and a Benefit, in a  sales situation. None of them got it right. It even got a bit heated when someone continued to try and benefit sell to me using only the features of the product.

So here goes:

FEATURE = a characteristic of your product or promotion. For example, if you take the Lynx brand, a feature of a new product is that it is part of the number 1 men’s deodorant brand, supported by millions of advertising investment.

BENEFIT = the result that the customer retains from the product related to their particular requirements. For example, the features of the Lynx product will attract shoppers into the deodorant aisle.

The later is only a benefit if you, the sales person, have uncovered this as a need. Otherwise, it is just another feature. Really great sales people who follow a consultive sales process are able to uncover all of the needs of this customer and then relate a selection of features to turn them into benefits.

Have a think about this one.

Nobody who bought an alarm clock wanted an alarm clock…

It takes a minute to think about that one, and it’s totally true. I recently had to make the investment into an alarm clock. So I went out to look, and even in the day and age where most people use their mobile phones as an alarm clock, there is still a huge selection to choose from. This then presented a hard choice. Did I want 15 different alarm tones with 10 different alarm time settings in a range of colours? Analog or Digital? Did I want one with a brightening light that will slowly ease me out of my slumber and stop my body from producing… WHAT!!!

All I wanted was something that would get me out of bed on time. This, single piece of information is the whole reason I would commit to buy an alarm clock.

Nobody who bought an alarm clock wanted an alarm clock. They wanted to be woken up on time. Therefore if you want to sell alarm clocks you should deliver information about making it to work on time, or getting out of bed on time and being at an important meeting, not about alarm tones! The same goes when you are presenting your offering. Customers buy benefits and one of the most powerful selling techniques is Benefit Selling. Remember that a benefit is only a benefit when it matches the customers requirements.