You've got a great product. You've hired a strong sales team. You've identified your ideal target market. The only thing left standing between your company and a sale to your potential customer is one word. Are your salespeople talking to your potential clients about the features of your product or the benefits? If they're using the F-word, they're pushing the close further and further away.

Features are innovative attributes a product offers. Features are unique things a product can do that no one else's can. But at the end of the day, features are talking points, not selling points. So if your salespeople are basing their conversation with customers on features, they are essentially telling your customer that they don't really care what's going on his world--because what's most important is what's going on in theirs.

For example, when I suggest to one of my customers that he should consider purchasing our titanium jewelry for his shop, I don't try to convince him to make the purchase by telling him all the great things about our titanium. Instead, I ask him if he has clients who have allergies to certain metals. When he tells me he does, I ask what he has to offer them. Most times, the answer is that he has little or nothing for sale in his store that they can wear. Then I point out that carrying my titanium line, which is hypoallergenic, can help him to keep those customers from walking out empty-handed. Titanium benefits him in that it will allow him to carry something for every client--even the most difficult to service. Titanium benefits him in that it will permit him to safeguard the health of his clients, send them home happy--and at the same time, allow him to increase his bottom line. By focusing my dialogue with him on how carrying our titanium will improve his sales, rather than emphasizing the features of my hand-polished, ultra-lightweight, premium titanium, I make it easy for him to decide that he wants to purchase some--because doing so makes sense for him.

So how do you get your salespeople to place the priority on benefits when approaching customers? Do this simple exercise. Have them list each of the features of a given product or service on a piece of paper, followed by the phrase "which will change my customer's life by allowing him to do ______________". Ask them to highlight the last portion of each phrase. Once their list is complete, ask them to role play with you the conversation they intend to have with prospective customers, starting with the highlighted portion of the list or benefit, rather than the feature itself. Say the product was a smart phone, for instance, and their list read:

  • High Definition Video will change my customer's life by allowing him to film precious moments in his children's lives so that when he sends them to grandpa who lives 1000 miles away, grandpa will feel as if he had been there to share the moment.

Their role play should not start with "have you seen the high definition video capability of this phone?" but rather with "do you have loved ones who feel sad because they live too far away to be able to attend your kids most momentous occasions? Our new HD video allows you to make grandpa feel like he is not living so far away because of the detail it can now share with him."

A salesperson who communicates to his customers about his product not in terms of what the product does, but in terms of what it can do for his customer, will easily convert browsers into buyers, and close the sale nine times out of ten. So set your sales team straight--your salesperson may love features, but your customers want benefits.