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Why Change Selling Blog

 

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It's late 2022 and still, we are presented with B2B Websites, promotional materials, brochures and advertising copy that scream product features and so-called benefits.

Sales induction boot camps and annual sales training are built on a foundation of boring PowerPoint presentations that describe products in terms of features and benefits.features and benefits are dead2
A product feature according to Wikipedia is a distinguishing characteristic of a software item, (e.g., performance, portability, or functionality).
A product benefit according to Wiktionary is an advantage, help or aid from something.
For a product feature to be of benefit to a user, the user must firstly have the problem or sub-optimal condition that the product feature addresses and have a pressing need to resolve it.

It is impossible to know if a product feature will be of benefit without first understanding the client condition.

Therefore, I propose that we declare features and benefits a deceased concept in B2B selling... they have served us for the past 70 years of marketing computer technology, but it's time to move on because the majority of salespeople cannot translate product features and benefits into meaningful conversations with buyers.

Furthermore, B2B buyers are not interested in features and benefits - they are interested in capabilities and the outcomes those capabilities produce.

"Product Speak"

Successful technology salespeople by necessity have had to translate the output of product marketing; - features and benefits, or "product-speak", which harks back to Orwell's "Newspeak") into a set of conversations to diagnose needs and convey how the product/service could create value when used in the customer's context.

Unfortunately, a majority of salespeople have a tendency to revert to "product speak" in front of buyers, because that's what they have been drilled-on and are comfortable speaking about.

It’s time to bury this features and benefits approach and stop wasting salespeople’s time and marketing and training budget on something that creates zero value

How does using it create value for me?

Buyers today care about the value they will get from using your product/service and are always asking three questions,
  1. What are you selling?
  2. What’ll it do for me?
  3. Can you prove it?
Anthony Iannarino in his book, "Elite Sales Strategies" maintains that, when salespeople selling B2B technology create value for the customer by delivering true consultative insight on why they should change, they are "One-up" on the buyer, because they bring information about what is going on around the buyer that they missing out on or may not be aware of.
Product Marketing’s role is to work with sales to create a value messaging model that sales can use immediately - without translation and that buyers can easily understand.
Cause-level messaging architecture

I have evolved the following Messaging Architecture through working with customers over the past 15 years to effectively create a Value Messaging Model and to have it flow congruently through sales conversations, brand messaging and Website messaging.

Take-Aways

  1. No one cares about your product features and benefits, except you.
  2. Prospects are interested in the capabilities you bring to the table to solve their specific problems and the outcomes they can expect when they are looking for ideas and solutions to problems If your keywords are all about the features and benefits of the product and do not appear on page 1 in a Google web search, then lead generation and pipeline build is going to be a challenge and expensive.
  3. Salespeople need sales-ready messages and customer "who we've helped" stories that integrate relevant real-life stories about how executives in similar situations faced a need to change, overcame internal and external challenges, arrived at a turning point that was a lightbulb moment for their decision and how they implemented and use the product and the outcomes they now receive.

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