Effective sales calls: do you know the difference between features, benefit and conclusions?

Author:Cascade, Susan
Position:Small Business CENTRAL

Whether you're an accidental salesperson (i.e. a consultant, attorney, business owner, etc.) or a professional salesperson, you've heard that you must know the difference between a feature and a benefit. Are you sure you know the difference as it relates to your product or service? More important, are you certain you use benefits to your benefit?

Top salespeople use benefits to their benefit because they go one step further. They draw conclusions about the direct impact the benefit will have on a specific target.

Let's use an example of an advertising rep for a business magazine, such as the one you're reading right now. The rep starts with a feature, which is a descriptive statement about the publication. Perhaps the rep will say, "75 percent of our publication's subscribers are in top management."

That's a very important statement, but it only earns a C. To earn a B the rep needs to add a benefit. A benefit is a statement of what the feature will actually do for a buyer.

The rep may add: "Your ad will be seen by people who make decisions." That certainly is a benefit to the potential advertiser, but it only earns a B. It could be better.

What if the rep went a step further by drawing a conclusion?

"Your message is in front of decision-makers, which probably isn't true of all your salespeople all of the time. And, your message is seen time and time again while your salespeople are busy making other calls. Your ad is a vital part of your sales team and making the sale."

Let's try another example; this time for an accidental sales-person. Perhaps you're a lawyer (or consultant, CPA, architect, etc.). To succeed and make partner you know you must bring in new business to the firm. You think, "Heck, if I wanted to be in sales, I wouldn't have spent so much money getting my MBA or fill-in-the-blank." Whether you call it selling or rainmaking (see page 18), it's still selling and you've got to do it.

So, you meet with a prospect after researching his business. You discover that he's an owner of a rapidly growing company and the law firm currently handling his legal matters is a firm much smaller than the one you work for.

A "C" salesperson/attorney might say: "Our firm has more than 250 attorneys with offices in the U.S. and abroad." That attorney should get used to being an associate.

The "B" attorney might say something like: "Our firm has more than 250 attorneys so we have every aspect of business covered."

The gist of what the future partner...

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