Selling benefits not features on the phone

headsetSales trainers have been drilling the features versus benefits story into their salespeople for decades. The best salespeople instinctively match the right benefit to an individual customer, but this can be one of the most difficult skills to train.

In this post I’m sharing four sales training techniques to help your telephone sales staff understand the difference between benefits and features, and sell the benefits that best meet each prospect’s need.

Identify the features
First explain to delegates the difference between a feature (what something is) and benefit (what it does). In sales, benefits sell and features smell, as they say.

Then ask the delegates to identify for themselves the main features of the product or service they are selling. For example:

  • It comes in a wide range of colours
  • We deliver within 24 hours
  • The policy includes no-claims protection

Create benefits statements

Then ask them to create a benefits statement for each feature by adding “which means that you…” (add benefit).

So for the features above:

  • It comes in a wide range of colours, which means that you can find one that will blend in with your furnishings.”
  • The policy includes no-claims protection, which means that you will not lose all your no-claims discount if you have an accident.”
  • We deliver within 24 hours, which means that you can reduce the amount of money tied up in stock.”

Examples of benefits include security, peace of mind, cost effectiveness, lasting quality and convenience. Emphasise that the most important word is “you”, which ties the benefit firmly to the needs of the prospect rather than what you are trying to sell.

What’s the most popular benefit?
The delegates now have a shopping list of features and benefits, with some features having more than one benefit attached to them. The trick is to match the right benefit to the prospect.
There’s no point trying to sell value for money to a customer whose main concern is peace of mind. So have the delegates identify what they think is the main benefit – the one that distinguishes your company from competitors, and is likely to resonate with the most number of prospects.

Then have them rank the other benefits, which may appeal to a more limited number of potential customers.

Practise with role-play
Finally, use role-plays to practise identifying and reinforcing the prospect’s needs, then matching them with benefits statements. For example:

Salesperson: “I believe you said earlier that it’s essential you have a controller that you can set for individual days. Is that right?”
Prospect: “Yes.”
Salesperson: “Well, a major feature of our new flow valve is the variable timer, which means that you can conveniently set it for individual days. You’ll also find that it’s more cost effective.”

Try using telephone coaching equipment as part of your sales training techniques. Recording delegates’ calls in the training room can help you focus on individual skills before bringing it all together in a complete call.

You can also download a set of free checklists for reviewing role-plays from our website to help you work on specific areas with your team.

Image courtesy of digitalart /

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