Selling For Client Benefit

Marketing people swoon when we start talking our product/service features and benefits.  Glossy brochures, internet banners et al are all instantly imagined.  But as a sales person, in front of a customer, what are the core benefits of what you do?  Brochures often become meaningless in this situation – the client is interested in them and their position.

Benefits largely boil down to a few key categories:

  1. They save money:  In short they reduce the costs for the client.  This is a pricing feature in one sense, but it can also be that you are actually more expensive in pricing – but your proposal is better structured so that the client actually still saves money from a more efficient structure.
  2.  They make money:  Your products/servicess are produce income for the clients greater than that which they are currently receiving.  Some industries don’t lend themselves to this – some do.
  3. They save time:  Your products/services reduced the amount of time the clients would usually invest in the process that involves your product.
  4. They provide convenience:  They make life easier for a client by making a process easier or taking away a stress for example. 
  5. They provide security:  Some products and services are about making the client feel safer.  Insurance is an example, we don’t really want it – but know we need it as it makes as feel safer in the event the unexpected happens
  6. They feel good:  Some products and services are purchased just because they make us feel better about ourselves.  These could be status items or wellbeing items for example.   A good example is the company car – in reality, any old car will do, sometimes we make the choice based on a foundation of need, but also how the car makes us feel (or be percieved).

Of course, these benefits aren’t mutually independant.  Something that saves you time, often saves you money.  Something that provides convenience, can also save you time, which can also save you money, which can also make you money as your staff can spend more time on revenue generating activities.

One of the issues here is a client sometimes doesn’t know that they could receive one or all of these benefits.  And you won’t until you have a chance to have a thorough discussion  with them and point out, through discovery, where some real benefit sits (a different topic altogether for a later day).

Often we sit back and analyse from our perspective, what our product/service benefits are…but this actually doesn’t mean much.  What matters is what the CLIENT perceives are the benefits and at what point that benefit overrides intertia to justify a change/purchase.

Also, sometimes there are multiple potential benefits a client can receive – you need to determine which is/are most likely to be the most meaningful benefit to them at this point in time.

And, who you talk to changes the perceived benefits.  For example – talking to a CEO – you may find saving them money is a significant benefit to them as they’re measured on the profit produced.  However, talking to the Office Manager within the same business, you may find saving them time is more significant.  All while discussing the same product/service within the same business

Some things to think about

  • Most product/service benefits can be destilled to making money, saving money, saving time, providing convenience, providing security or feeling good (providing status/ego)
  • Benefits differ by person and position.  You need to shape the discussion around benefits based on who you are talking to (decision maker, executive, product user etc) to successfully position your product/service
  • Benefits differ by business/sector.  People will view your benefits relative to them, their business, their needs, their industry to name but a few.  
  • Benefits differ over time.  The same product/service in to the same business will mean sometime different when that business is a start up, than when they are a mature business.  
  • Benefits alter in relation to your competitors.  It may be a perceived benefit of your product – but if everyone has/does is, is it actually a benefit to the client?

When thinking benefits – think of them at a Macro rather than Micro level – benefits exist in a larger context than just the product/service.  They exist relative to many other factors which shape how the CUSTOMER sees your benefits.

Remember, the clients are buying the product/service for their perceived benefit – what you show them must be relative to them, where they are today and what they’re trying to achieve. 

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