Quit Talking About Features & Start Talking About Benefits

Matt Volpi
May 19, 2015
No business is immune from living inside its own echo chamber where their world starts revolving about their own product or service. This can lead to lots of unfortunate side effects, but one of the most common is to focus its messaging and sales efforts on “features.” The problem is that most people don’t care about features, they’re not buying features, they’re not putting them on their wish lists or begging their account managers for them. What customers care about are “benefits.”

Why Care About Benefits?

Your product may be fast, but its actual speed isn’t meaningful to a customer; it’s about empowering them to maximize their resources or shrink their timelines. Your product may have more storage, but customers don’t care about gigabytes, they care about how many apps they can have or hours of video it can hold or transactions it can support. Of course, customers have been forced to adapt because technology has gotten so spec-heavy in its messaging. They have had to do the math themselves to interpret arbitrary measurements into meaningful widgets of knowledge. But they shouldn’t have to. A prospective car buyer shouldn’t have to figure out how many suitcases they can fit in the trunk based on the cubic feet listed on the window sticker; the car manufacturer should be boasting about how the car is great for vacations because it can fit all of your gear. A potential purchaser shouldn’t be sifting through supported APIs; they should be told that the built-in support means sales commissions will be automatically calculated once payment is received. Converting your lists of features into benefits isn’t particularly difficult; you just need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Here are some categories of benefits that your solution might offer a customer in a B2B setting:

B2B Benefits

  • It helps them do something faster
  • It helps them do something cheaper
  • It helps them do more
  • It helps them stop doing something they don’t want to do anymore
  • It helps them do something new
  • It helps them use their resources differently

B2C Benefits

On the B2C side of the house, the principles are similar, but the benefits are more personal:
  • It makes them happy
  • It saves them time
  • It saves them money
  • It helps them do something new
  • It helps them stop doing something they don’t want to do anymore
Positioning your products along these lines changes the entire context of the conversation: it’s not about how awesome your product is; it’s about how much better they’re life will be or improving how their business will function if they start using it. It’s not always an easy transition as your sales and marketing teams may have grown reliant on spouting off stats about megapixels and bit rates and horsepower and storage. You don’t necessarily want to throw those numbers away either, as some customers really do care about those things (or have been trained to over the years). But if you’re selling something that’s not a commodity, there’s room to reframe your pitch and refocus on benefits. So take a step back from your current messaging and sit on the other side of the table for a few minutes. What is your solution going to do for your customers? How is it going to help them? What are they going to tell their peers about it? You be fairly sure that they won’t be focused on torque and bandwidth and instead be talking about how they towed their snowmobiles up to the mountain cabin and were able to let both kids watch their own movies in the backseat so no one complained for the entire smooth and comfortable ride.

About the Author

Matt Volpi

Matt Volpi is a senior consultant for Tovana Consulting, Inc. His specialties are product strategy, content marketing, sales enablement, market research and SWOT analysis. Matt has executive experience at two technology startups and held product management and marketing roles at large multinational firms in the mobile space. When he's not helping clients or wrangling his daughters, he's usually whipping something up in the kitchen or coaching softball.

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