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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

6 Ways to Convince Customers to Buy

You'll sell more if you talk about your product using language your customer understands.
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Customers never buy because of product features. They buy because they perceive some "benefit" to those features.

Unfortunately, most sales and marketing messages talk about features and let the customers try to figure out the benefits. That's asking your customer to do your heavy lifting for you.

You'll get more customers, more quickly, if you communicate the benefits of using your product rather than the features it possesses. Here are six rules for doing so, based upon a conversation with one of my favorite sales gurus, Barry Rhein:

1. Know the difference between a benefit and a feature.

A feature is something that a product or service "is" or "does." A benefit is something that the product or service "means" to the customer. For example:

  • Wrong: "This car has a reinforced safety roof." (feature)
  • Right: "This car keeps your family safe." (benefit)

2. Use vivid but plain language.

Customers will remember a benefit longer and more easily if it's expressed using simple, strong words that evoke emotion.

  • Wrong: "This roof provides protection in the event of a rollover accident."
  • Right: "If this car rolls, there's a good chance you'll walk away unharmed."

3. Avoid biz-blab and jargon.

Nothing leaches a benefit of emotion more than the use of tired business cliches or overly technical terminology.

  • Wrong: "Robust implementation of 80210 protocols!!!"
  • Right: "You can connect virtually anywhere."

4. Keep the list of benefits short.

Most people can only hold two or three thoughts at one time in their short-term memory. Long lists of benefits just cause confusion.

  • Wrong: "Here are the top 10 benefits of using our product:"
  • Right: "The two most important things to remember are..."

5. Emphasize what's unique to you or your firm.

Benefits that are generic to your product category can convince a customer to buy... but not necessarily from you! Use benefits that differentiate you from the competition:

  • Wrong: "Our software makes you more productive."
  • Right: "Our customers report an average 30% decrease in costs, about twice the industry average."

6. Make your benefits concrete.

Customers ignore benefits that are abstract and expressed using vague adverbs and adjectives. Benefits that are concrete and specific are more convincing and "stick in the mind."

  • Wrong: "We can radically reduce your inventory costs."
  • Right: "We decrease inventory costs by an average of 25%."

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Last updated: Sep 28, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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