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Sell Features, Advantages, And Benefits
By Orvel Ray Wilson   Printer Friendly Version

Most people could care less about your association's products or services. They want to know what it can do for them; how it will solve some problem or help them achieve some business or career objective. Too often, we concentrate on the great features our association offers, like newsletters or trade shows, but neglect to translate them into the real motives for buying.

A feature is an objective and observable characteristic of your product or service. Features remain unchanged whether the prospect buys or not. For example, features of your upcoming trade show might include room for 150 booths, five break-out seminars, and 2,000 visitors over two days. Features of your newsletter might include 32 pages, a color cover, and a bingo reply card.

An advantage is what the feature does, the service that it performs. An advantage of having break-out sessions at your trade show is that they attract qualified attendees to your exhibits. The advantage of a bingo reply card is that it makes it easier for customers to respond. But that's not the whole story.

A benefit is the payoff of the advantage, or the value it provides to this individual prospect. Qualified attendees mean you'll spend less time qualifying and spend more time closing sales. Easy response means you'll see immediate results from your newsletter ad.

Think of benefits as the value of the advantage to the individual prospect. These are therefore defined by the prospects' goals. The same product or service may offer different benefits to prospects with different priorities. For the trade show go-getters, a busy floor with lots of traffic may be just the opportunity they've been waiting for to introduce a new machine.

Another member might want to participate in order to network with the show's other exhibitors. Another may view it as an opportunity to orient their new employees to the industry. The guerrilla always links features and advantages to their prospects' objectives, so they can clearly see the benefits.

Remember too that a benefit may not be intuitively obvious. Guerrillas target their selling message by always translating features into advantages into benefits. For example, you might say, "One feature of our show is that attendees will have paid $5.00 each to enter the exhibit hall. The advantage is that these are people who really want to see what you have to offer, and you benefit because that makes it easier for you to sell to them."

Because the same features will offer different benefits to different prospects, the guerrilla targets the presentation to cover only selected features that offer a clear advantage. "Attendees will have paid $5.00 to enter the exhibit hall. The advantage is that by keeping the traffic down to a manageable level, your people benefit by having time to qualify each visitor, rather than just passing out literature to a mob."

Before attempting to sell anything new, do this simple exercise. Fold a sheet of paper as you would a letter into three sections. In the first column, list the half-dozen major features of your offering. In the second column, list several advantages for each feature. And in the third column, list the possible benefits of each advantage for the different types of prospects you plan to call on. No matter what you're offering, your presentations will flow naturally and logically across the page, making it easier for prospects to justify buying. Now you're armed and dangerous.


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