CCA 8.3 Lesson 3: Turning features into benefits

Besides learning about the importance of the five buying decisions, an additional powerful tool that a sales professional should use is the ability to turn product features into benefits for the buyer. A product feature is a specific characteristic or quality of a product or service. A buyer benefit is the personal benefit the customer receives from using the product or service.  Every buyer asks one important question before finally deciding to buy a product. This question is, “What’s in it for me?” Which is commonly called WIIFM.

The Ultimate Buying Question

WIIFM =   What’s In It For Me?

The customer doesn’t really buy a tangible or physical product; the customer buys benefits–WIIFM.  The sales professional must be creative and learn to turn features into benefits.  The following examples found in the next illustration are what sales professionals must do to be creative in turning features into buyer benefits.

Turning Features into Benefits

The average sales professional sells clothes;

The creative sales professional sells personal appearance.

The average sales professional sells life insurance;

The creative sales professional sells protection for loved ones.

The average sales professional sells household equipment;

The creative sales professional sells relief from drudgery.

The average sales professional sells books;

The creative sales professional sells the value of knowledge.

The average sales professional sells automobiles;

The creative sales professional sells the joy of the open road.

The average sales professional sells advertising;

The creative sales professional sells profit insurance.

A sales professional can’t depend on the customer to translate the product feature into customer benefits. The sales professional must be creative and see the product in the eyes of the customer in terms of benefits because people buy benefits, not products. Below is an additional example to point out the difference between product features and buyer benefits.  This example deals with automobile features.

We don’t sell brakes;

We sell safer, surer stops.  We sell security.  We sell the ease of stopping.

We don’t sell torsion bars;

We sell smooth, controlled rides.  We sell easy handling, even over rough roads.

We don’t sell insulation;

We sell quiet rides.  We sell protection from heat and cold.

We don’t sell power steering;

We sell ease of handling, the ability to park easily.  

We don’t sell air conditioning;

We sell driving and riding comfort.  We sell clean traveling and filtered air.

This is how to turn features into benefits. As you know, features alone have very little impact on the customer. Features become meaningful only when the customer can relate the feature to something that will be of personal benefit–WIIFM. To be successful and creative in changing features in such a manner that it is easy to understand, you can use three steps that will make the task easier. We call it “FAB.”

FAB–A three step process for turning features into benefits

Step One: Feature–List the product feature.

Step Two: Advantage–Determine what the feature will do for the customer.

Step Three: Benefit–Explain how your customer can benefit the product performance.

In other words, let’s put the above three steps of FAB in a simple formula and apply the formula in and example dealing with running shoes.

Feature + Advantage = Benefit

(What the feature is)  (What the feature does) (What the feature means to the buyer)

Feature = Cushioned arch support.

Advantage = Provides foot support for running.

Benefit = You will have more personal comfort.

Feature = Leather upper.

Advantage = Provides durable wear.

Benefit = Shoes will wear longer and save you money.

Feature = Reinforced toe.

Advantage = Protects toes.

Benefit = You will be less likely to injure your toes.

Feature = Cushioned insole.

Advantage = Helps prevent blisters.

Benefit = Your feet will be more comfortable and feel less tired.

An effective sales presentation begins by planning what you want to say and what you want to do. With this information, you should be able to prepare an effective sales presentation and appeal to strong buying motives by stressing buyer benefits. Before you give any presentation, sit down and identify at least five selling points or features. After you have done that, then you can translate the features into benefits using the three-step FAB approach introduced in this chapter. A successful realtor put the feature–benefit concept so simply by stating that “features tell but benefits sell.” Look at the following example below and apply the three-step FAB process by filling in the blanks for the advantage and benefit steps of a portable blow dryer.