I know it’s one of the most basic topics covered on almost any sales training so I am constantly surprised by how many sales people I work with still talk to their prospects about features rather than benefits.
It may be because a lot of sales people feel comfortable with having knowledge – knowledge of their own company, its products or services, the commercial terms and so on – and so have developed habits of talking in terms of facts and figures but customers need to know the ‘What’s In It For Me?’ (WIIFM) for whatever you are proposing.
I was with a group of lawyers the other day who wanted to improve their ability to develop new business and I asked them how they introduced their company to new prospects. I said “Assume you have got a first meeting with a prospect and they ask you to summarise why you are different and a good fit for them”. Quite a few of them launched into a ‘standard’ pitch: “We have x number of offices around the world, we work with companies including a, b and c and we develop business relationships that add value to our clients”. All well and good but it lacks the WIIFM from the customers perspective.
There are a couple of very practical tips that I think all people in sales would benefit from considering every so often:
- Consider how you would answer the question “What makes you different?” or “Why should I buy from you?” Ideally rehearse your answers to this with a colleague
- Challenge yourself to answer in terms of benefits and not features. Have your colleague ask you “So what?” after each point you make. If you can still answer that question then you are talking features and not benefits. A benefit answers the ‘so what?’ question
- If you recognise that you use features, remember to add the ‘…which means that…’ to personalise it to the prospect and turn it into a benefit
- Research your prospect – make benefits specific to them wherever possible rather than generic
- In a first meeting, ask more questions before you pitch your company. How can you contextualise the differentiators and make them compelling if you don’t understand what’s important to the prospect? We often ask the question “What’s important to you about any provider you work with?” and note down what the prospect says before we position our company and offering. This question elicits their values (see a previous blog for more on values) and values drive behaviour. We then make sure that we can link our offering to these values in an authentic and clear way.