Jan 29 2014

Features and Benefits – Are They The Same?

features vs benefits

Customers Buy Benefits

“Pick up that ashtray from the table and sell it to me.” Those were my instructions for the exercise. I was at my first sales training for a summer sales job. We were getting into the real “stuff” of selling that morning. We were learning how to sell cookware. The company was about to unleash 150 or more of us college students to start knocking doors and setting new sales records. It was my chance to show the other students that I knew how to sell. After all, I was a college student… I knew everything!

An ashtray? How hard could this be? I picked it up, admired it for a moment, then started describing it in great detail to the class. I talked about the beautiful color highlights, the smooth glass-like finish, the fine detail of the etching around the bottom. For the next 90 seconds, I described every possible detail. I handled it as though it was a piece of fine art. I was convinced even the non-smokers in the room would want to start smoking just to be able to use such a beautiful ashtray!

And then the moment of truth. Our instructor asked if anyone in the room felt compelled to own the ashtray. Two hands went up. Only two. I thought I was in a room full of zombies. How could they NOT want such a cool ashtray! My sales pitch was flawless. I didn’t say “um” even once.

OK, so maybe I didn’t know everything. As it turns out, no one cared what I was saying. I was listing all the features of the ashtray. – the color, size, weight, etc. None of that mattered because I didn’t tell them why those features would benefit them. While I was rattling off features, they were thinking, “Yeah, so what. What’s in it for me?” They saw no benefit for themselves.

That’s a huge lesson for any salesperson or marketer trying to sell a product or idea.

Customers Buy Benefits, Not Features.

A typical computer salesperson goes on and on about how much memory a machine has, how big the hard drive is, the speed of the processor , and on and on. Most people will stare blankly while they try to figure out what it all means. Those are features. They want to know what it means to them. How will it benefit them? They want to hear the machine will run fast. They want to know it has plenty of room to store their massive music library. They want to know they can run several programs at the same time without the machine blowing up. They Want To Know The Benefits!

The next time you find yourself describing a feature, use this simple “SO THAT” formula:

This product has {feature}, SO THAT you can {benefit}.

Simple, isn’t it? There really is a difference between features and benefits. Your thoughts?

Apr 02 2010

Close The Sale With A Standing Ovation

standing ovation
n. an enthusiastic outburst of applause during which those in the crowd or audience rise to their feet.

A standing ovation for an entertainer is the ultimate acknowledgment from his audience. Every performer craves it whether or not they like to admit it. The big “O” is the grand prize in show business.

The final moments of a performance are critical for success. It’s the feeling you leave with your audience that will make or break a performer. It’s good business! When someone who didn’t see the show asks “How was it?” or “Was he any good?”, without hearing anything else about the show, if he finds out there was a standing ovation, nothing more need be said.

It’s no different with traditional business. When you complete a sale the last moments are what your customer will remember. The last thing that happens in the sales process, the feeling the customer is left with will be remembered above all else. It makes sense to build up to the applause, to keep them coming back.

I’m fascinated by watching magicians and how they boost their chances of getting people to their feet with applause. There are tricks of the trade to close a show. It should go without saying that a performer either deserves an ovation or he doesn’t. If the show is terrible, clever tactics to get applause mean nothing. As a business owner you deserve praise from your customers only if you provide a service that delivers on your promises.

A magician structures his act to ensure as exciting a climax as possible. Only then will applause-getting tactics be of use. Your business must operate in a way that gives your customers as many benefits as possible to create a feeling of trust at the time of the sale.

Let’s assume you have a good product that solves a needed problem. You also have a support system in place to take care of your customer after a sale. Now we can borrow some tricks from the magic world. Ken Weber in his book Maximum Entertainment talks about ways to get applause.

Don’t Leave The Stage Immediately

A good performer takes a bow and stays for as long as the applause is peaking. Only when he hears the slightest lessening of applause will he leave the stage.

After completing a sale, your customer wants to know they made the right decision. They are more concerned about YOU. Did you really solve their problem? Are you going to be available if something goes wrong? Be sure to stay long enough to answer any follow-up questions.

After A Bow, Extend Your Arms To The Audience

This technique borders on being insincere if done poorly. After bowing, the performer extends his arms to the side, palms up. It’s the motion you would make if you were actually asking your audience to stand… but instead of the full motion, the performer just starts it slightly. His hands will only move about an inch or two without being obvious.

In your business, see if you can get your customer to tell you why they bought your product without coming right out and asking. An easy way to do this is ask which feature they’ll be using first. When they answer they will repeat the benefits and what is meaningful to them. If you did your job correctly by selling benefits, it will be easy to confirm for themself why they made a purchase.

Acknowledge The People Who Stand

A performer give immediate attention to the first person or two who stands with applause, extending his arms directly to them and says “Thank You”.  It’s contagious. Other people will want to join in.

If you have testimonials from previous customers, thank them and share their story with your new buyers. In a group sales settings, always let existing customers talk about your product. It creates excitement for your new prospects.


Going for the standing ovation after a sale is a sure way to start an ongoing relationship. As long as you have a worthwhile product or service that does exactly as promised, why not try to get some praise? It’s what they will remember most.

How do you get applause in your business? Please share some of your tips in the comments below.

Mar 22 2010

Email Marketing Works – Here’s Proof

Email marketing has become an integral part of small business marketing success.  Today’s small business owner understands the importance of using email in their business.

I talked recently about what type of information to include in emails to your customers and why you don’t need a website to launch an email campaign.

Today I want to stress WHY you should be using email.  With email you can:

  1. Direct customers to your website
  2. Announce your latest projects
  3. Target your audience
  4. Track who opens your email and what they’re interested in
  5. Get feedback from customers
  6. Crate a much larger impact on immediate sales and long-term relationship strength than traditional advertising
  7. Provide training
  8. Save money – no paper, printing, postage
  9. Increase sales – It’s easier to sell to existing customers than it is to find new customers
  10. Provide product support
  11. Build trust with customers
  12. Educate customers on consumer trends
  13. Put your business on autopilot with autoresponders
  14. Notify customers of current events
  15. Offer free or discounted products/services
  16. Measure results with tracking

Need Proof? Look At These Statistics.

The Ad Effectiveness Survey commissioned by Forbes Media in Feb/March 2009 revealed that email and e-newsletter marketing are considered the second-most effective tool for generating conversions, just behind SEO.

79% of consumers have signed up to receive e-mail at least from one company, according to Forrester Research, and two out of three people surveyed said they read e-mail every day of the week. (E-commerce Times)

E-mail marketing delivers a US$51.45 return on investment (ROI) for every marketing dollar spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

A survey of 55,000 consumers by Decision Direct Research revealed that the number of respondents that visited a Web site when they received an e-mail promotion increased to 62 percent in 2007. (E-commerce Times)

66% of those surveyed said they had made a purchase because of a marketing message received through email. – ExactTarget, “2008 Channel Preference Survey” (2008)

2/3rd of US Internet users surveyed said email was their preferred channel for written communications between friends. – ExactTarget, “2008 Channel Preference Survey” (2008)

Consumers who receive both email and direct mail on average contribute about $17 in revenue and $4 in margin per household.- Merkle “Driving Successful Email and Direct Mail Integration” (2010)

‘Social media ROI’ was an important buzzword for 36% of executives. – Anderson Analytics and Marketing Executives Networking Group “Marketing Trends Report 2010” (2010)

58% of US Marketing Executives feel ‘Marketing ROI’ is currently the most important buzzword/trend to pay attention to. – Anderson Analytics and Marketing Executives Networking Group “Marketing Trends Report 2010” (2010)

Email presently generates 21.6% of total revenue from campaigns. – Direct Marketing Association “The Integrated Marketing Media Mix” (2008)


What would you add to the list of reasons you should use email?  Have you seen any interesting statistics that reinforce the importance of using email?  Please share your comments below.