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B2B purchases usually begin with a business case centered on a particular result. Some common desired outcomes include improving productivity, increasing revenue, reducing risk, or cutting costs. A less common objective? Getting all the latest product bells and whistles.

Because salespeople are so familiar and immersed in the products or services they sell, they sometimes bog their presentations down with information on features.    But while these might be significant to the vendor and the rep, they're anything but to the prospect.

In her book Nonstop Sales Boom, Colleen Francis, owner of Engage Selling Solutions, illustrates the difference between talking about "features" and talking about "value."

"Customers don't care about features and benefits," Francis writes. "They only care about value and achieving their objectives." 

Consider the following two sentences. Which is more compelling to you?

"In the new update, we've released 10 new features, which are on the cutting edge of X market."

"The new update enables companies like yours to cut costs by approximately 20% in six months." 

The first sentence stresses features, and explains why those features are important to the vendor. But the prospect doesn't really care about what's important to the vendor -- they're trying to solve a problem. On the other hand, the second sentence glosses over the new features and instead explains their ultimate value to the customer. Now the buyer's ears are perking up.

The word "value" also gives salespeople ammo to fight the inevitable price objection. Prospects who appreciate the value of your product or service and understand the results it will enable won't have as hard a time paying full price, since they feel they're getting a lot for their money. If, on the other hand, the rep has not adequately expressed value, the prospect will balk at the price tag for what they perceive to be a jumble of semi-useful features.

Make sure your prospect sees the forest instead of a bunch of randomly assembled trees. Always lead with value over features. 

Verdict: recommended.

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Originally published Feb 25, 2015 9:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

Topics:

Persuasion in Sales