Sell product features to fill prospect's needs

This is the fifth article in my series analyzing the seven steps of the Track Selling System.

In previous articles, I analyzed Step One: Approach, Step Two: Qualification, Step Three: Agreement on Need and Step Four: Sell the Company. In this article I'm analyzing Step Five: Fill the Need.

To move smoothly from Step Four to Step Five, use the following transition statement: "There are several important features about [product or service] that I'd like to tell you about."

Then go directly into the Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequence. In this procedure, you will stress the intangible benefits your product or service provides, especially those that appeal to your prospect's dominant Buying Motives.

Here's how it works:

  • 1. Name a feature of your product or service. The feature represents important information about your product or service: the fact that a product is compact or portable, etc.

    2. Paint a vivid, word picture of the benefits that feature provides. The benefit highlights what the feature will do for the prospect and appeals to one or a combination of the prospects buying motives: Desire for Gain, Fear of Loss, Comfort and Convenience, Security and Protection, Pride of Ownership, and Satisfaction of Emotion.

    3. Ask a reaction question tied to that benefit. The reaction question draws out the response the prospect will base his/her buying decision on.

Remember, people buy benefits, not features. For example, there are more than 1 million quarter inch drills sold in the United States annually, but no one wants quarter inch drills. They want the benefit they'll get from the drill, quarter inch holes.

Therefore, I encourage salespeople "To Sell, Not Tell."

When you describe tangible features of your product or service, you're telling. Although these facts add credibility and appeal to logic, they don't motivate your prospect to buy now.

Imagine your prospect having a big sign stuck on his/her forehead that reads,
"WHAT WILL IT DO FOR ME?"

Describing features alone doesn't answer the question. After naming each feature, you must paint a vivid picture in the prospect's mind to help him/her visualize the resulting benefit.

How do you know which features and benefits to stress?

From the input you gathered in Step One: Approach and Step Two: Qualification. You now know your prospect's problems, needs, values and the Buying Motive(s) most likely prompting them to buy. Stress only those features and benefits that target these specific needs.

My experience indicates that you should present three to four Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequences in increasing order of desirability. Provided you've accurately assessed the prospects needs, three or four sequences aimed at these needs are usually enough to persuade anyone to buy or act now. If not, you'll learn in the next article how to supply your prospect with even more reasons to buy and still exert almost no pressure.

As you ask your reaction questions, listen to your prospect. Positive reactions help you target the real reasons the prospect has for buying (which you'll stress throughout the rest of your presentation).

After completing your three Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequences, always ask:
"Do you have any questions?"

If your prospect has a question, answer it. Keep asking
"Do you have any other questions?"
until the prospect runs out of questions.

Hopefully, they'll ask this one: "What's the price?" If they do, this means the prospect has likely made positive decisions about you, your company, and your product or service. The next Buying Decision, in precise, psychological order, is the price.

It's much better, psychologically, if your prospect mentions the subject of price. However, if he/she doesn't, you'll have to address it with a statement such as, "I suppose you're wondering about the price?" Before you quote the price, make sure you summarize the features.

To quote the price, use the following statement: "For your [summary of features to be included], the price is [quote the price]."


In a recent column, Gerri, the salesperson from Happiness is Hawaii Tours completed the Sell the Company step with her prospect, Dick. Gerri will now transition from Step Four: Sell the Company to Step Five: Fill the Need.

  • Gerri: Dick, there are several important features I'd like to tell you about our Hawaiian tours. One thing that distinguishes us from other tour companies is that we'll schedule a tour that lets you choose from three islands. What this means to you is that you decide how and where to spend your time. Wouldn't it be nice to use our planning resources and expertise, and have the flexibility to pick exactly where you'll spend your time?

    Dick: It sure would. That didn't happen to us in Mexico. We often wanted to leave a city early but were scheduled to be there all day.

    Gerri: Another feature that I would like to tell you about is that we handle all the transfers and transportation from the time you arrive. You won't have to worry about finding a destination on your own. Have you ever experienced trying to find a specific location in an unfamiliar place?

    Dick: You must have been along on our Mexican vacation. I looked pretty foolish when I went to the wrong hotel.

    Gerri: [Laughs.] Another thing about this package that I think would appeal to your family is that on each island, every family member, for one price, can pick one special activity to participate in. What that means is that your daughter can have a guided tour around the island, while at the same time, your son can be taking a scuba-diving lesson. You could be having a great time deep sea fishing while your wife might be touring a local area. How would you like each of your family members to be able to choose their own favorite activity without you having to spend extra money?

    Dick: That seems too good to be true. I 'm sure this is going to cost me a lot.

    Gerri: That's almost the best part of our vacations. The pricing. Do you have questions?

    Dick: Yeah, I guess the big question. I'm excited about all this but what's it going to cost me?

    Gerri: Dick, for your Hawaiian winter vacation package, including round-trip airfare for your son from Boston and you and your family from Los Angeles, free transfers from airports to all islands, individualized sports and tour activities, and all lodging, your entire investment would be $3,500.

WHEN THE NEED IS FILLED

When you Fill the Need with a Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequence, the prospect sees how your product or service meets his/her needs and is willing to buy. In the next step, Act of Commitment, you will learn to close the sale.

In an upcoming article, I'll analyze Step Six: Act of Commitment.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • In Step Five, you help your prospect make positive decisions about your product or service and the price by using the Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequence.
  • People buy benefits, not features. A benefit answers the question: "What will it do for me?"
  • Use the Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequence to determine your prospect's dominant Buying Motives.
  • Present three Feature/Benefit/Reaction sequences in increasing order of desirability.
  • Remember "To Sell, Don't Tell."

 


 

Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.