Learn How Benefits Statements Impact Sales

Salespeople looking at tablet
Benefits sell your product for you. Zero Creatives/Getty Images

Salespeople who have gone through basic sales training usually come out the other end very familiar with the cliche “features tell, benefits sell.” Features are a product's basic attributes; benefits are what your customers will get out of using the product. In other words, features are fact-based and benefits are emotion-based. And sales is all about using emotion to get through to your prospects.

Let's say you're selling satellite radios. An example of a feature would be the thousands of stations that subscribers can hear no matter where they go. But your prospects don't care about that fact; they care about the benefits that come with having thousands of stations available. There are a lot of possible benefits that you can pair with this feature. You might say, “Having thousands of stations available at the touch of a button is far more convenient than basic radio.” In this example, "convenient" is the benefits word. But you could just as easily say, “You'll have the security of knowing that your favorite station is always available even if you go out of town,” or “Having all these stations gives you peace of mind because the right station is out there,” or “Having all those stations saves you money because you won't have to buy MP3s of your favorite songs.”

How do you know which is the correct benefit to use for a particular prospect?

 You ask the prospect. Part of the qualification process is understanding what your prospect wants and needs from you. He must need (and/or want) something or he wouldn't have set aside the time to speak with you. And some prospects will come right out and tell you what they are looking for. But many others won't explain their motivation unless you ask.

Once you have an idea of your prospect's desires, you can then match those desires with a compatible benefits statement. Some examples of frequently used benefits include convenient, saves time, saves money, secure, prestigious, and easy to use. With a little brainstorming, you can probably come up with many more benefits that apply to your product or service.

A benefit statement should bridge the gap between your product's feature and the customer's need. Start by repeating back your prospect's need as you understand it. You can say something like, “You mentioned earlier that you travel a lot and get frustrated that your radio station isn't available when you leave town, correct?” Then pause and give him a chance to either correct you or agree with you. Then, assuming he agrees, you can hit him with the benefit statement: “Well, once you've signed up for satellite radio, you'll have the security of knowing that your favorite station is still available when you go out of town.”

Benefit statements are effective only if you match them up to the prospect's specific needs or wants. If you don't take the time to collect that information first, you're shooting in the dark. In the above example, if you hadn't probed for the prospect's motivation and discovered it was wanting to have access to stations everywhere, you might have trotted out the “saves you money” benefit statements instead.

And this benefit statement wouldn't have moved the prospect any closer to buying. In fact, it might have moved him further away because you're ignoring his primary need.

A little preparation ahead of time will also help you deploy benefits statements to best advantage. First, make a list of product features and then come up with a list of one or two benefit statements for each feature on your list. With this list in hand, you'll be ready to respond clearly to most prospects' needs. Of course, no list will cover every possible situation, but you'll have the right response prepared for 95 percent of the prospects you meet.

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