Features or benefits: which sells more product?

It is common knowledge that customers buy benefits, not features. The classic example is that people don't buy drills, they buy the holes that drills make. The drill is the feature, the hole is the benefit.

This forms part of the basic sales strategy: selling the benefits and not the features, but this may not work for every business. Read on to find out the pros and cons of selling benefits and selling features so you can decide which is the right strategy for you.

Sometimes features come first

Imagine that you are shopping for a new computer and the sales assistant asks you, "What are you going to do with your computer?"

If your reply is, "Email my children, track my finances, and surf the Web", the sales assistant may tell you that you need a particular computer because of how it will speak to each of your needs.

He may say that a particular computer helps you build relationships with your family members, enables you to understand your finances, and lets you explore the world of the Internet.

That may seem like an obvious response, but people don't always shop for benefits. They may want the benefits, but they shop for features, for example how fast the computer is or how heavy the laptop is.

They may want to know how large the screen or hard drive is, or how much memory it has. These are all features we use when deciding which computer to buy.

The question is, when do people shop for benefits, and when do they shop for features? Or better yet, when should you sell benefits, and when should you sell features?

Deciding which approach to take

Customers typically make two purchase decisions:

  • Will I purchase something in this product category?
  • Which one will I purchase?

The answer is to sell benefits when the customer is deciding whether or not to purchase, and to sell features when the customer is deciding which product to purchase.

When your customer is in the "Will I?" stage, you should be selling benefits, or what they get out of purchasing a new computer, or a new tablet, or your consulting services.

At this stage, they are comparing your product category with everything else that is competing for their budget dollars.

When your customer is in the "Which one? stage, you should be comparing your product to your competition, feature by feature. You should push the benefits of the features where you have an advantage, but the conversation is based around features.

Should you sell features or benefits? The answer is that you should be selling both. Just know when to use each approach.

By Mark Stiving of AllBusiness.com

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