New salespeople are often confused by the difference between features and benefits and the role each plays in a presentation. A feature is an aspect of the product or service that exists regardless of the customer’s need for it. A benefit is the use or advantage a customer derives from a feature. For example, a customer who is shopping for a truck may not care about four-wheel drive. It is a feature, but an irrelevant one to some people. However, when an off-road enthusiast walks up to the truck, that feature suddenly becomes a benefit.
A benefit, then, is a feature in action. Most customers, especially end-users on the retail level, think in terms of benefits. They don’t care what features make something work. They are only concerned with the end result – the benefits they can derive from the purchase.
During a presentation, you must know what kind of person you are dealing with. If you are selling to an engineer, you must discuss features as well as benefits. Most of the time, however, you will not need to cover features in such detail. In fact, most final decision-makers only care about the bottom line, which is how they will benefit from the purchase.
Concentrate on speaking the language of benefits. This means addressing your prospect’s problems or needs one at a time and showing how your product/service will solve each specific problem. Get your prospect involved by using the Feature-Feedback-Benefit (FFB) method. Present a feature and ask for feedback.
“This computer has a 10 gig hard disk. How important is that to you?”
“I don’t know. Is that enough to store at least 2,000,000 names for a mailing list?”
The customer has done two things:
1) revealed a lack of knowledge and need for consultative help; and
2) described an important benefit that must be provided by the product. Later in your presentation, you would come back to this benefit and make a point of showing how it will be provided.
Keep in mind that a feature can provide more than one benefit. Similarly, a described benefit can be accomplished with more than one feature. For example, a fireplace can provide more than heat. The benefit of recreation can be derived from a swimming pool, a big backyard, a finished basement, or proximity to a park.
During your presentation, be sure to point out all the possibilities, especially if flexibility and diversity are desired benefits. In addition, use the following questions, or similar ones, to uncover other desired benefits.
“How do you see this fitting into your current or future situation?”
“Have I missed any advantages that this may provide you? What might they be?”
“This is how my product/service can be used in (situation A); can you see ways that it will help you with (Situation B)?”
“How do you see this addressing the problem/opportunity we discussed earlier?” (Be specific)
“Does this look like it will meet your needs?”
“If the answer is no, say, “I’m sorry, I must have missed something. What are you looking to accomplish that I have overlooked?”