Sell Benefits, Not Features

B2B Marcom Insider

Seems obvious right? But many marketers get all enamored with features offered by their products and services and hide the benefits. Take for example, “Now features a 12 Mbyte Transtar drive system with multiple Ethernet ports and embedded OPC drivers. Translation: More Power and Easy Integration to Lower Costs.

Here is an easier example. Nobody who bought a drill wants a drill. They want a hole. So, if you are selling drills, talk about hole benefits: speed, capability, service life, etc. Once you communicate the benefits of your nifty drill, then back up these benefits with the features that enable those benefits.

Tips to Promote the Benefits…

Tip one is understanding that business customers aren’t usually buying a product or service to fulfill a personal need. They are buying a product or service to fulfill the need(s) of the company they work for. There is a personal need in the process though: The need to make a smart decision to make themselves look good to management and their peers.

You must communicate to your customers the benefits of owning and using your products and services. Those benefits can be delivered to the customer in any number of ways. They can be functional benefits in that they offer all the functionality of competing products as well as some additional benefits that are not considered standard in the industry such as extended warranties and 24/7 call center support.

The benefits can also be emotional. These can be very powerful and differentiating, and almost impossible for a competitor to copy. Emotional benefits are described as both intrinsic and extrinsic. An intrinsic benefit makes the customer feel better about owning and using your product. She sleeps better at night. An extrinsic benefit makes the customer feel good about expressing to others that he owns and uses your product or service. This is often described as the privileges of ownership.

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM”. Is IBM really that much better in delivering functional benefits than its competitors? Maybe yes, maybe no. However, it is clearly successful in delivering an intrinsic emotional benefit.

A Pentium chip is a Pentium chip, unless of course that chip is made by Intel. Historically, Intel has been successful in commanding a price premium for a product that must conform to a suite of features set by the industry. The power of the emotional benefit is clear. Customers feel better owning a Pentium chip made by Intel than a Pentium chip made by a competitor like AMD.

However, most importantly today, companies are defining their benefits in terms of direct, quantitative business process cost savings, increase in productivity, or increase in business. In these soft economic times, the mantra at virtually all organizations seems to be 'Show me the ROI'. Corporate executives are shelving or simply passing on projects that cannot show a demonstrable return to the company. Money is tight and buyers' calculators are poised and ready.

So give your customers a strong financial reason to buy. Here's some anonymous industry examples of strategic messaging that demonstrates ROI:

  • Each widget paid for itself in 10 to 15 months through lower energy costs.
  • Cut filter replacement and maintenance cost by 20%.
  • Employee productivity increased across all users of the system.
  • Call center call load decreased 30% due to improved self-help site effectiveness.
  • Site visitors received 95% relevant information using the new search technology.
  • Online primary research delivers results at half the cost, one-tenth the time, and with five times the response rate.

Market testing will reveal the metrics that are closest to the hearts of your prospects. Then conduct an ROI study to prove how your offering can make a significant bottom-line impact.

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