Selling Beyond Features & Benefits

When we talk about selling beyond features and benefits, we did sort of discuss the idea of trying to elicit some emotions from people. try to find out what they really want. Then we can start to focus more on emotions and experiences.

What is the emotion you want to have them feel when they are taking advantage of this purchase? What is the experience you want them to have after they’ve purchased it?

David: Hi and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing the idea of selling beyond features and benefits. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Thank you so much, David. This is an important topic for me because I feel like so often if we just convince them that the features are perfect for them or the benefits are perfect for them, then we’ll get the sale.

When as so often, what we’ve talked about, it’s more about relationships than it is features and benefits.

David: Yeah, and we did touch on this topic a couple of weeks ago in the podcast, and I thought it was worth it to sort of revisit it, expand it a little more, because it’s the type of thing that people sort of basically know, basically understand, but maybe haven’t really implemented.

So I’m hoping we can flesh this out a little better for people. And if you’ve got questions about anything we talk about, that’s one of the reasons I love these discussions is you think of things that I would never have thought of and hopefully vice versa. And we’re able to come up with strategies that are going to be helpful to people.

So in a previous podcast we had discussed when we’re looking to get beyond the idea of features and benefits, how so many salespeople have been trained on this over so many years or even so many decades. That’s kind of all they know.

And if you recognize that there is a world, there is a life beyond features and benefits, it really opens things up for you. It opens up your mind. It opens up your conversations, your dialogue, your interactions with prospects and clients. It just gives you a lot more that you can work with that can actually help to elicit a response from them. Find out what they’re looking to do, get down to their actual core emotions in addition to just what’s coming off the top of their head.

Jay: Yeah, I think I told you it’s probably been almost a year since we talked about it, but I went to a week-long sales training. These were like the premier sales trainers in the country. And they told us the whole week that we were selling light bulbs. And that was all we could sell.

We could never rely on our knowledge of the real product that we sold. That way we would have to focus on the skillset behind selling and building relationships. And what was so funny is that people would start making up features and benefits of these imaginary light bulbs, because they had to have something like that. Because that’s all they knew was selling features and benefits.

And the whole week they’re trying to teach you No, no, no. Build relationships. Like you said, there’s an emotional component here. There’s so much more than features and benefits. And I came away with an incredible understanding. I think some people came away just knowing how to sell light bulbs, to be honest with you.

David: Right! Yeah. So then they all had to go into business selling light bulbs. It didn’t help me sell anything else, but help me sell light bulbs. It really is kind of funny, the way our minds work sometimes. Because if you’re in the product zone, if you’re just thinking in terms of the actual physical product that you’re selling, it’s one dimension. But it’s not always the most important dimension.

Because there’s that old expression that people don’t want to buy a drill bit, right? You remember that one? They say nobody wants to buy a drill bit. What do they really want? Do they want a drill bit? No, they want a hole in the wall, right?

So there’s a lot of talk about that. But even that is sort of features and benefits, right? The feature is, it’s sturdy and it won’t break when you use it. The benefit is you can put a hole in the wall. That’s presumably what they want is the hole in the wall.

But a lot of times it stops there. And people forget that if you really take it a step further, people don’t want a hole in the wall. Right? Hey, look at that hole in my wall. There’s something they want to put up there.

There’s something that they’re looking to do. It’s either part of a construction project that’s going to result in something better than just a hole in the wall.

And so if you limit yourself to the immediate feature and the immediate benefit, you’re missing out on the ability to paint a picture of whatever the thing is that they’re buying is ultimately going to create for the person.

Jay: Yeah, I agree. One of the things I think about is car sales. You could sit there and say, look, it’s got Bluetooth and it’s got this, and it’s got that. When so much of car sales is about the image that the person is portraying while they’re driving that car around. How it makes them feel, those kind of things.

So much more emotion involved in that process. And I’ve been in car sale situations where all the car salesman wants to do is look it ‘s got automatic windows, it’s got this, it’s got that. And to me, I’m like, that’s not really what I’m focused on and I don’t think most people are.

David: I agree. I think a lot of salespeople are. But I think most buyers are not focused that way. To me, that sort of draws up the idea of a product-focused approach versus a client-focused approach.

If you think of it in terms of what the client wants, instead of just what the product does, your entire dialogue changes. Because if you’re selling, you know, a higher end car, if you’re selling a business person or somebody who appears to be a business person walks in and they’re looking at a nice higher end car, talking about the features and the benefits is not likely to get them where they want be.

But if you find out from them, oh, so tell me what do you do? And if you can find out they’re a business owner or they’re in sales and they meet a lot of people, then you can get an idea of, all right, well why do they want a car that looks like this? Because they want to impress people.

Now, you’re not going to get them to say that and you’re not going to say it to them. But if you have an idea of what they’re really looking to accomplish, it becomes a whole lot easier for you to be able to say the things, put together the words and the sentences and the questions that will begin to elicit that in the prospect’s mind.

So instead of saying, well are you interested in leather seats or cloth seats, right? You would say something like, so what do you plan to use it for? Is it mostly for business or is it mostly for personal?

And if they say it’s for business, then that leads into a whole bunch of different conversations that will allow them to also start painting a picture in their own minds of what it’s like to own the car. Right?

Which is really where you want them to be. Because the more you can get them to read themselves into that story and paint themselves into that picture, the closer they’re going to be to signing the contract.

Jay: Yeah, I totally agree. There’s nothing worse for me than you just meet a salesperson and they don’t get to know you, and they start driving you towards one product or the other.

It drives me crazy. I’m like, this person doesn’t care about me. They only care about their sale or their commission, and I immediately want to find somebody else. It just puts me off instantly because how do they even know what I’m looking for? Drives me out of my mind.

David: Yeah, that reminds me of that scene in Tommy Boy, where he’s describing the sale. Oh, this is my precious sale, and he smashes it to bits. Chris Farley. Great scene. Probably ought to Google that.

via Gfycat

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned drilling the hole. You know, I don’t want to drill the hole. I want to be Tim Allen from Home Improvement. Right? That’s what I’m thinking when I buy tools. I want to have this amazing work garage where I can do anything that I want.

You know? That’s kind of what I’m thinking when I go to Home Depot. The drill bit is just one little piece of this larger equation.

David: Yeah, and a lot of people don’t think of that. But what you described is almost exactly what we described in the car scenario. You’ve got a vision of something far more expansive, and somebody’s trying to decide, well, do you want this one or that one? And the fact is, I want all these things, but you’re asking the wrong questions.

Jay: Yeah, exactly right. So the question is, find out what they’re looking for. Help them see the vision of it, right? And buying that one drill bit could be turned into buying a whole drill bit set, right? So now you’ve gone from one to 10.

If you do that with every customer, you’ve done some amazing things and you’ve increased your sales by 10. If they would’ve just said, I need this drill bit. You go over, you go, here it is, have a nice day. Then that’s the beginning and the end, and that’s not the way it should be.

David: Yeah. Especially if you wanted to build out your entire garage and you wanted to have a whole bunch of things and you could be buying power tools and all sorts of things. But they’re like, oh, here you go. Have a nice day. It’s helpful from the standpoint of delivering what the customer asked for. But it’s not helpful at all in terms of understanding what the customer really needs and really wants.

Jay: Yeah. And I think when we talk about features and benefits, I think selling them a vision of something is kind of what we’re talking about. So like in the promotional products industry, what is their vision? What are their goals? What are they trying to accomplish? And this is just one tool in the overall vision that you’re offering them.

But if you can help them see that and how your features and benefits, because they do come into play. But if you’re talking about them as part of a grand plan, then that’s totally different than just saying, look, it’s got your name on it. and that’s it. .

David: Yeah. Because if you think in terms of what they’re really buying, they’re not really just buying their logo on a mug. I mean, that may be what they’re paying for, but what they’re actually buying is exposure. I want people to see this. I want to have other people see someone walking around with this. And then there’s a positive association with that.

I’ve got one right here. I’ve got some tea in it. It’s just a nice looking mug. It’s been in our cabinet forever. I drink a lot out of it. And the company. I didn’t sell this particular order, they just got free advertising, right? Because I happen to have it, and if I’m having some tea and I’m on a podcast, they get some free advertising.

So for the one time cost, and we actually paid for that mug. It wasn’t a freebie, but we bought that. I guess it came with the the drink. I don’t remember. I don’t remember. We had it for a long time. It came from New Orleans. But It’s a great example of something that, to the extent that they had a cost involved in it, it’s a one time cost, but they can get exposure from that for decades.

Jay: Yeah. Yeah. And I love that. On and on. Like, I can’t remember the last pen that I purchased because along the years, staying in hotels, you know, different places I’ve gone, I pick up a pen that somebody gives me. So every pen I have in the drawer has got somebody’s name on it. And like you said, that just keeps going on and on.

And it may not result in a sale today, but it’s subconscious. One day that’s going to come up, and I may not even remember the pen. But I’ve seen their name enough time, and so now I’m Googling it and I see their name and I’m like, that sounds familiar. And you’re just connecting these dots. And so part of it is a long game for sure.

David: Yeah. And when we talk about getting beyond features and benefits, and we did sort of discuss the idea of trying to elicit some emotions from the people, try to find out what they really want. And the word desire is probably stronger than the word want, right?

What do they really desire? What do they want to have happen? So in the car example that you used, what do they want to feel? They want people looking at this car and saying, oh, there’s a successful person. Maybe that’s one example of something they might want.

And so if we recognize that that’s what they’re actually looking for, then we can start to focus more on the emotions and the experiences. Which I believe we’ve also talked about a bit in a previous podcast, but it’s worth mentioning.

What is the emotion you want to have them feel when they are taking advantage of this purchase? What is the experience you want them to have after they’ve purchased it?

Well, if they’re buying promotional items, the experience they want to have is they want to have recognition. They want to have people noticing the product, noticing their company. Perhaps responding to them. They’re looking for a result, which is the next step of that.

So if we start out with features and benefits, and then we move to emotions and experiences, and then we finally get to results and transformation, if we can utilize whatever it is that we’re doing to create some sort of positive transformation for the person who is making the purchase, then mission accomplished. Right?

If the person comes in to buy a car because they want to be seen in a certain way, and it allows them to feel a certain way and have certain experiences that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and get the result they want by being seen as a professional. And the transformation is then complete.

I’ve gone from driving a beat up old whatever to driving this nice fancy car. It totally changes everyone’s perception of me. Sometimes that’s what people want. And if we don’t think about that sort of progression, we’re going to be missing out on probably 90% of the sales we could be making.

Jay: Yeah, I totally agree. And you might say, well, where’s the emotion in the promotional products industry? If you can even then show a business owner how your products make them look good, make them look professional. So that when somebody sees it and they didn’t even know anything about it, there’s something about a well-made product with a great logo on it, and it’s presented professionally.

That may be their only experience with you until they need you. And so, having that type of quality representation that goes out into the world I think is so important. And that’s part of the vision. How do you want to be seen by people who have never seen you?

David: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, I’ve told my clients over the years so many times, I’ve said this till I’m blue in the face. I’ve said to clients and I encourage my customers to say to clients, look, anybody can get you a custom imprinted whatever mug, t-shirt, umbrella, portfolio, padfolio, whatever it is that you’re going to imprint. Anyone can get you that.

But not just anyone can create a promotion that is designed to get you results. So if you just buy a bunch of mugs and give them out, that’s one thing. But if you utilize that as part of a promotion that is designed to attract attention. Maybe get somebody to come to a trade show booth, as we talked about in a previous podcast.

Use it as something that will help you get past a gatekeeper. If you’re in sales and you’re going out to various businesses, you might be able to utilize that to get past a gatekeeper. There are so many different applications that will allow you to accomplish a result. And if you don’t focus on the result, you’re missing out on a lot of the business. Because many people just think of promotional items as sort of tchotchkes or giveaways. And when they realize that they can actually be used to accomplish their objectives, they’re far more likely to buy.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. Well, how do people find out more, David?

David: You can go to That’s Have a conversation with myself or our team and figure out where you are, where you’re looking to be, and see how we can help.

Jay: All right, it’s been a great discussion. Thank you so much.

David: Thank you, Jay.

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    1 Response to "Selling Beyond Features and Benefits"

    • David Blaise

      Do you agree with the idea that just selling on features and benefits is outdated? Feel free to agree or disagree and enter your thoughts below.

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