Problem: Our customers don’t see how our solution benefits them.
Sales and proposal professionals often focus too little on benefits and fail to link key solution features to benefits. Or worse, they wait to articulate the benefit until the end of a proposal section. When the benefits are buried, the customer won’t see how your solution is best and may decline your offer.
Solution: Understand features, advantages, and benefits and use them wisely.
Understanding features, advantages, and benefits is a key part of selling effectively, in person and in a proposal.
Features are separate aspects of the seller’s product or service, such as speed, schedule, process, price, training, certification, capacity, weight, size, or color.
Advantages are how, in the seller’s opinion, the product or service can help the customer.
Benefits are advantages that can solve a problem for the customer. They address the specific issues for which the customer is seeking a solution.
Advantages become benefits only under two conditions:
- They are linked to the customer’s needs
- The customer wants them
The customer issues are the worries, hurts, or pains they are experiencing—they are what keeps them up at night. Benefits help the customer overcome these challenges or problems. In this way, benefits become the converse of issues: if an issue represents a cost or pain, the benefits eliminate the cost and relieves the pain.
Collaboration with the customer helps to understand the customer’s issues, concerns, and preferences. Collaboration builds rapport and educates both customers and sellers. By explicitly linking your features to advantages you convert advantages to benefits.
Follow these guidelines for winning proposals:
- Collaborate with the customer to develop a common vision of the customer’s issues and needs.
- Establish a common understanding of the customer’s issues and needs before discussing the features and benefits of their solution.
- Convert advantages to benefits as the sale progresses.
- Always emphasize benefits over features.
- Quantify benefits whenever possible to show value to the customer.
Benefits have the strongest and most lasting impact on the customer’s buying decision because they are explicitly linked to alleviating issues. In short, customers buy benefits, not solutions.