Features, benefits and reactions in the selling process


We have talked about the importance of the "sell the company" step and why it's placed in an illogical sequence in the selling process.

The reason is based upon the prospect's psychological buying decisions.

The first decision is about you, the salesperson; the second is about your company; the third is about your product or service; the fourth is about price and the fifth is about the time to buy.

These decisions are always made in this exact, precise, psychological order when you are trying to sell someone. However, there is a big difference between someone buying something from you and you selling them something.

The professional salesperson makes it easy for customers to buy because he or she knows how to sell. Everyone loves to buy; no one wants to be sold.

The greatest weakness of salespeople is that they are product-centered and not people oriented. Therefore their comfort level is talking about their wonderful product or service.

This is one of the reasons that salespeople prematurely talk about their product or service instead of going through a logical process of qualifying suspects into prospects.

Our concept of how to handle the "fill the need" step is similar to what salespeople use yet it's completely different. Everyone talks about features and benefits.

Our process is different because it has a third ingredient: reaction.

You complete the "fill the need" step using the F-B-R concept. F is for feature; B is for benefit and R is for reaction. The feature is the physical characteristics of the product or service, such as size, weight, shape, color, parts, etc. The benefit comes from what your prospect receives from the feature, whether tangible or intangible.

Prospects buy benefits not features. Therefore salespeople need to sell the benefits, not just talk about them. When you sell the benefits you appeal to one or more of the prospect's six dominating buying motives.

Finally, the reaction is a question you use to get the prospect's reaction to the benefit you just described.

The process works as follows: Describe a feature of your product or service. Paint a vivid word picture of the benefits the feature provides that answers the prospect's question "What will it do for me?"

Then ask a reaction question.

It should be open-ended, feeling-finding and tied to the benefits to get his or her reaction. This is only a small change in the typical salesperson's presentation of his or her product or service but it changes the dynamics of the sales presentation dramatically.

By adding the reaction question to the feature-benefit presentation, the sales presentation is changed from a monologue to a dialogue.

How many features and benefits should you present?

If a product or service has 15 distinctive features and benefits, the typical salesperson will probably cover about 16 or 17, throwing in a couple of extras just to make it sound good. How many will the prospect remember? Probably none.

Research shows that you should present no more than three or four features of your product or service because prospects buy for simple reasons.

How do you determine which three or four to present?

We suggest you present three in your presentation and we'll show you how to add a fourth later on.

First, present the one the prospect likes, then the one he or she likes more and then the one he or she likes the best.

This way you'll build your prospects to a psychological high and they'll be ready to buy when you ask for the sale.

One of the myths in selling is the so-called difference between selling a tangible product and an intangible service.

Many times I've heard salespeople say, "I can sell something tangible like an automobile, a computer or clothing. However selling something intangible is much more difficult."

That's nonsense.

People don't buy tangible products, they buy the benefits those tangible products will provide them.

When a person spends $100,000 on a new automobile, generally speaking, they're not just buying transportation. They're purchasing a name, satisfying their ego, etc. I recently saw an advertisement for Mercedes that showed a close-up shot of the world famous hood emblem. The caption on the ad simply stated, "Don't die wondering."

Regardless of whether you're selling a tangible product or an intangible service, what you sell are the intangible aspects of that product or service that will answer the prospect's question, "What will it do for me?"

After you have covered your three features-benefits-reactions, ask your prospect, "Do you have any questions?"

Hopefully his or her question will be, "How much is this going to cost me?" If so, quickly summarize the features and quote the price. Then it's important to immediately make your closing statement and close the sale.

Your prospects may, in all likelihood, have questions other than the price.

If they do, answer their questions. Again, psychologically, you want the prospect to ask you the price.

If they do not, prompt that question by saying something like, "You're probably wondering what your investment would be for this service," and the prospect might say, "Yes. How much will this cost me?"

Before quoting price, quickly summarize the features, "For our product or service including feature, feature, feature, your investment is ..." and quote the price.

Why? Because you want to quickly remind them of the features before quoting the price. We call this taking the "ice" out of price.

Closing the sale should be and will be the logical conclusion to a well-given presentation when all the previous steps are completed properly.



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