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Salespeople are usually advised to talk about the benefits of their product or service, not just the features, but often it’s difficult to differentiate between the two. Is its top rate quality a feature or a benefit? Is its ease of use a feature or a benefit?

Helping a potential customer understand the difference between features, benefits and ultimately the value of a product or service is a critical element in them making a decision as to whether or not to buy it.

I work a lot with accounting firms and technology businesses, and both often struggle to get this process right.

For example, an accountant might show a list of services on their website that they offer, such as bookkeeping, tax returns and payroll services. Or they might display their professional qualifications, believing that this is all a potential client needs to see.

But these are just features … it’s what they do.

The potential benefits of these services are completely different. Doing the bookkeeping for client means that the client can be certain that their records will be accurate, that their tax returns are submitted on time and correctly. But they will also free up time not having to do all of that time consuming admin … time that they could use for more productive, and probably more enjoyable activities. They’ll be able to spend more time looking for new leads, having more conversations with prospects and hopefully closing more sales work.

Features are often technical in nature, describing what the product or service does.

Benefits are the positive outcomes that the features provide.

It’s also important to realise that what might be a benefit to one person may not be relevant to another, so part of the sales process is questioning to help us understand what’s important to each prospect.

But we can take this even further.

Let’s say by working with a particular accountant, the client can free up three hours of admin time that they can now spend on business development activities.

The question to ask now is … so what?

What would an additional three hours of sales time actually mean? Maybe it’s another two sales meetings with prospects… That’s eight more per month.

Great … but so what? What would eight more meetings generate? Perhaps it’s four new qualified opportunities.

So what?

Maybe the client might expect to convert two of these opportunities into sales.

So what?

Maybe two more sales represents an extra £1,000 of revenue or £12,000 over the course of a year.

So what?

Perhaps that extra £12,000 of annual revenue could provide a higher salary for the business owner, or pay for that big family holiday they’ve been promising to take for years, or it could contribute to the salary of a new employee, or a new piece of equipment that’s so desperately required.

Simply telling prospects about the features and benefits of our particular product or service, is only part of the story. We need to keep asking ourselves so what, in order to find the real value that our customer is going to receive by working with us.

That’s why I called my book about sales skills “It’s All About The Value”. Because customers buy value. They don’t buy features and benefits.

If you’d like to explore how to use the “so what” technique more effectively, then let’s talk.

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