Tactical Questioning

Sell Benefits, But Make Sure Your Customer Agrees!

Sell Benefits, But Make Sure Your Customer Agrees!

I’m All For Pitching…

… and with a book called “Sales Pitches that Snap, Crackle ‘n Pop,” I’d better be… right?


But please pitch me in a way that is focused on me. Pitch all your prospects in a way that focuses on them.

Just because you “sell benefits, not features” doesn’t mean you’re really doing so in a customer-focused way. So here again:

Snap: stimulate your prospect’s interest.
Crackle: start a (customer-focused) conversation, with and about your prospect.
Pop: Earn your prospect’s trust.


Even Big Brands Get It Wrong

I just stepped into my bank for a quick transaction that required a bit more than the ATM, and sure enough before I left the counter, I was being pitched.

I’m fine with that.

The teller… um, the customer service rep… at this big-brand bank began pitching me on a new credit card offering. They were actually offering me two credit cards, from my choice of three big-brand credit card brands.

“Just think what you can do with two credit cards?” she insisted.

“Nothing more than I can do with one,” I shrugged.

She kept insisting that two credit cards, from the same bank, were twice as good as one.

“I’m sorry, I really don’t see the double-benefit. But thank you,” I smiled.

And on and on she insisted. “You can leave one card at home, and only use it when you need it.”

“What good is having a credit card at home?” I asked.

“Imagine if your wallet got lost or stolen. Then you’d have another card.”

“Well, if I lose my wallet, maybe it would be a benefit then,” I surmised. “But if I were travelling, the second credit card would be at home, and I’d be somewhere else, so… no… it’s a stretch. It has very little benefit to me.”

As the customer service rep kept digging for more more benefits, I realized two things, and one was actually a liability: two credit cards from the same bank would be twice the accounting work.

And the other thing I realized? The customer service rep was not customer-focused.

She had been taught the long-held sales tactic of “Don’t sell features. Sell benefits.”


But One Size Does Not Fit All

Herein lies the rub: It’s only a benefit if the customer thinks it is!

And therein lies the lesson for salespeople in the brave new world: Until you know what the customer wants, desires or needs, don’t over-play your product’s benefits.

When it comes to your customers’ perceived benefits, one size does not fit all.

This customer service rep had indeed stimulated my interest. But she then failed to open a customer-focused conversation with me. She did not explore and learn what my needs were.

As she insisted that the second card was a benefit to me, she was actually alienating me.

I’ll be clear. She was irritating me.

So while “don’t sell features, sell benefits” is a golden rule, don’t skip the fundamental step of having a customer-focused conversation and learning what the customer perceives as a benefit.

Otherwise, you’ll be pushing glorified features, and probably irritating your prospects, too.

Sure, sell benefits. But make sure your customer believes they’re beneficial.

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Hey! I’m always happy to discuss my reader’s sales challenges and successes. Send me an email at jack(dot)vincent(at)focus360(dot)ch to set up a phone or VOIP conversation.

Photo courtesy of 401K, http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6355848263/