Features and Benefits
What is it that salespeople offer to buyers? Products and services, yes. But buyers don't purchase products and services. They buy features and benefits. A feature is a characteristic. A primary feature of a car is that it gets you from here to there. It is transportation. A benefit is what that feature gives you. It is safe, reliable, stylish, economical transportation. It makes you look cool parked in traffic.
All products and all services that you will represent as a seller have features and benefits. In most cases, the features are listed by the manufacturer. You won't have to guess. The features of a specific computer might be:
22-inch flat panel monitor
240 GB hard drive
1 GB dual-channel memory
Your job, as a Golden Rule Seller, will be to help specific customers understand how these features relate to benefits they need or want.
The large flat-panel monitor makes viewing easier, yet it doesn't take up much desk space.
The large hard drive can store thousands of digital photographs and MP3 music files for you.
The dual-channel memory makes your computer operate faster and smoother.
The extended warranty assures you that the manufacturer will take care of any hardware problems for a full two years after purchase so you don't have to worry about it.
As you know from your experience as a buyer, benefits are what you are really shopping for. You have a problem: you want a computer that will efficiently let you manage your photos and music. If you can find a computer that has the features and benefits that solve the problem at a price within your budget, a sale is made.
Some salespeople call benefits the “sizzle.” The features are the cooking steak, and benefits are the sizzle that makes it appetizing. A thick steak on the barbeque may make you salivate (unless you're a vegetarian) as you anticipate the taste of it. The red steak in the butcher shop isn't as appetizing without visualizing how it will taste when cooked. That's why professional salespeople help buyers focus on the benefits, the sizzle, of their product or service.
Not sure what features and benefits your products or services have? First, read the packaging; it often lists the most important features, and you can deduce the benefits. Second, check for documentation, if available, within the product packaging; it typically includes specifications. For services, make your own list of what the service is, who needs it, and why. Interview the service providers as needed to learn their process and to identify its benefits to buyers.
Before you sell products or services, make a comprehensive list of its features and a matching list of the benefits of those features to the typical buyer. Then help individual buyers recognize the features and benefits that most apply to their needs and wants. That's Golden Rule Selling.