Forget what you have heard about selling benefits, not features – Sell outcomes!

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OutcomeAny marketer or sales person worth his keep knows to promote/sell benefits not features, because that is what customers buy right?  I say if you are selling benefits you are probably not leading the sale, you are responding to a customer’s shopping list or worse yet, responding to an RFP.

Think of the last time you bought anything… did you buy the features? Probably not. You might have thought you were choosing the product based on the features but in reality you were projecting into the future and envisioning the outcome you were experiencing in using the product.

Take buying a car for example. Your current one is past its prime, breaks down from time to time, not as comfortable as it used to be and starting to rattle.  So you are at the dealer’s sitting in the car and what are you thinking? You probably aren’t thinking “4 wheel drive means I get better traction in the winter.” You are probably thinking “… less chance of an accident which means avoiding the the hassle of getting towed, insurance claims, dealing with a body shop, etc.”

And think of the payments. Your old car is paid off.  Making new payments is a ‘feature’ of buying a new car. Yikes, how is that a benefit?  Instead, the master marketers working for the car companies sell us outcomes; “Your monthly payment is less than the expense of maintaining your current car,” and the subliminal outcome message is with a new car you won’t be breaking down or facing unpredictable repairs.  So, the ‘benefit’ of a monthly payment is predictability and the outcome is you will not be stranded on the side of the road in rush hour traffic.

Don’t be afraid to get personal with the outcomes. In my first enterprise sales position, I took the director of IT of an account I inherited out to lunch. After the formalities we got down to talking business and the first thing he said was “Pete, I have a problem and I need your help.” I thought, here it comes, our production roll out is way behind plan and he is going to want us to put more professional services staff on this for free. However he went on to say “I want to be CIO.”  Taken off guard, I asked “how can I help with that?” He replied stating this was a critical and highly visible project to his firm and needed me to get our company to make it a top priority to complete the roll out on time and to project specifications. If I could do this then he would look like a hero and his succession to CIO would be pretty much guaranteed. “No problem” I replied. “Let me send you a quote to add more professional services to your project, I will brief our C-level suite so they understand the importance of this project and this will ensure our top engineers are assigned.” The assurance of a successful project outcome sold my customer that we could deliver his desired personal outcome of becoming the next CIO.

So the next time you are putting together the slides for a campaign, presentation or pitch, don’t just present the features and benefits your product or service provides. Instead present the desired outcomes and present these in such a way as to connect with your prospect and get an emotional tie in to their desired outcomes.

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