By Kathy Sisk
There are four necessary elements in an effective selling presentation, which we will cover in Step Seven. Learning and customizing these steps to meet your prospect’s specific needs will greatly enhance your success with the other eleven steps. These four elements are features, functions, implied benefits, and stated benefits.
Features: Introducing features is the first approach in promoting a product or a service. Features tell your prospect which specific product or service you are promoting. This will assist you in customizing your presentation to meet the individual needs of your prospect.
Examples of “feature” words include: consultation, ABC company, XYZ services, competitive analysis, telemarketing training, evaluation, and 123 computer.
Functions: Step Five helped you to identify your prospect’s needs. Describing the functions will help you to highlight your prospect’s needs prior to describing the benefits. The functions are what the product does, how it works, and the different needs it will address. You will want to identify which functions are the most important to your prospect by evaluating the responses you got from your open-ended questions in Step Five.
Examples of function phrases include: provide information, twenty years in the business, provide a second opinion, offer objection-handling training, ideas are provided that, define financial needs, analyze existing programs, 480 megabytes of memory, and twenty-four-hour service.
Implied Benefits: Prospects do not purchase a product based on its features or functions. Their decisions are based on the benefits they will receive from the features and functions. The implied benefits tell your prospects what “good” they will derive by using the product or the service. There is a tendency to pass over this all-important element, but it should not be ignored. If the implied benefits are not included with the other elements of your presentation, you may end up losing the prospect altogether. Mentioning the implied benefits will help push your prospect’s hot buttons, because this appeals to the emotional aspect of the sales process.
The implied benefits justify the cost in the customer’s mind. Words and phrases associated with implied benefits include: confidence, success, satisfaction, self-improvement, increased knowledge, peace of mind, improved performance, quality control, and customer-oriented.
Stated Benefits: The stated benefits are the bottom line. Most likely your prospect will be thinking about the bottom line throughout your presentation. The stated benefits relate to the money or time made or saved by using the product or service. However, all too often this step is overemphasized. Many salespeople believe that the money issue is the only thing the prospect cares about, and so this benefit is expressed by the salesperson throughout the presentation.
It’s essential to state the benefits when you’re trying to accomplish your primary objective, which may be to bring the prospect in, send a representative out, place the order today, or create a favorable enough impression so that your prospect will remember you and your company. However, remember that the implied benefits are what justify the cost – stated benefits tell the prospect how they will save their time and/or money by saying “yes.”
Words and phrases associated with stated benefits include: profitable, cost-effective, productive, timesaving, faster speed, reduces downtime, affordable, increased value, lowers overhead, and increased income.
Key Points of Features and Benefits: The prospect buys benefits, not features. It’s important that you identify and continue to evaluate the differences between the two. There is a tendency to become absorbed in stressing the features of a product over the benefits a prospect will receive. This can be detrimental when you try to get a reaction (Step Eight) and conduct the trial close (Step Nine). Time spent talking about size, weight, shape, durability, and performance all serve to detract from the overall objective of the call, which is to sell. It is critical to translate the features of your product or service into the benefits your prospect will receive.
Translating Features into Benefits: The four functions must be used in order to make Step Seven effective. The following is a model to follow. Simply fill in the blanks with information related to your products or services.
“Mr./Ms. Prospect, from what you have told me I recommend (features). I recommend this because (functions). What this will do for you is (implied benefits) and, more important, (pause) you can (stated benefits).”
In actual use, it might sound more like this:
“I recommend (pause) a consultation. I recommend this because it will provide you with information about other services you’re entitled to. What this will do for you is (pause) update your information and provide you with more options to choose from. This information will increase your knowledge and awareness, giving you more confidence when you’re ready to upgrade. Most importantly (pause) you will save time in researching the information on your own, and you may be able to reduce your cost.”
As you describe the features, the prospect may be thinking, “Why should I buy this product?” By directing your prospects’ attention to the benefits, they are able to answer this question themselves. As a rule, people don’t want to be sold, but they will eagerly help sell themselves.
Don’t Forget: Always describe the features, functions, implied benefits, and stated benefits in this order. By doing so you stress your selling points in an order your prospect will be able to recall. Don’t mix them up; this will only confuse your prospect. Also, limit yourself to no more than two features during this step. Otherwise, you run the risk of overselling your prospect.
It is important that all four of these elements – features, functions, implied benefits, and stated benefits – be implemented in the selling step. Skipping one of them makes the presentation incomplete and increases the risk of an unsuccessful close. However, remember that one of these four functions is often neglected during most presentations: implied benefits. Implied benefits appeal to the emotional side of the sale. They are the sizzle in your presentation.
Without including implied benefits, you are only addressing issues related to money or time – that is, stated benefits. Why do you think consumers patronize higher-priced stores when the same products can be obtained elsewhere for less? Because of the implied benefits. They outweigh cost almost every time.
In the next issue I will share some specific selling tips and techniques to help successfully complete this step.
Kathy Sisk is CEO of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc.
[From Connection Magazine – June 2012]