sales people try to sell what they think the customer wants. But if
you can find out what they really want,
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Matching benefits: selling what your customers want
Many sales people try to sell what they think the customer wants. But if you can find out what they really want, you can sell your product or service in a way which is irresistible. This technique is called "selling matching benefits"
When we buy anything, we don't buy it for what it is, but for what it can do for us. That is, we buy the benefits of the product or service, not the features. So we buy a 1/4-inch drill because we want to drill a 1/4-inch hole. If it's got a handle that can be switched from the left hand side of the drill to the right (a feature), this may appeal to us if we happen to be left-handed and can switch the handle over to suit our style (a benefit)
If you think about whatever you are selling, you can no doubt think of many features of your product or service (if you can't think of at least 50, you are not trying!). And you should then be able to turn them into benefits for your prospective customers (see the article on Selling the sizzle on this site for more on this subject).
OK, so you've got 50, maybe 100 different benefits that your product or service can deliver to people. What do you do - offer them all?
Not at all. This will turn people off very quickly. What you must do is to sell them matching benefits - benefits that match what the person really wants. What makes product 'A' better than product 'B' in a prospect's eyes is not that it has more features, and thus more benefits, but that it does more of what the prospect wants it to do - i.e. it has more matching benefits.
Find out what people want
So how do you find out what it is that the prospect really wants. When you are selling face-to-face, it's easy. You ask them - and you listen to what they really want. Then you sell back to them the benefits that they are looking for. If they want it in green, it's no use telling them that you also have it in red, blue and fluorescent orange. Just tell them that yes, you can supply it in green.
But what if you are not sitting opposite them (or talking on the phone), but are sending out a mailshot - or putting details up on your Web site? How can you sell the prospects matching benefits when everyone may have different priorities?
In general terms, try to promote those benefits which are important to the majority of people. And you find this out through researching your markets - continually. Always give people the opportunity to feed back to you what is important to them. Use questionnaires, carry out telephone interviews, use every opportunity for one-to-one feedback to listen to what people out there really want.
Gradually, you will build up a picture of what the majority of people consider to be important about the type of product or service you are selling. You can then change the emphasis of your selling messages to stress these benefits.
Direct mail - how to match benefits
You can also sell, at a distance, matching benefits to an individual. For example, before sending out your product literature, send the enquirer a pre-paid card with tick-boxes for them to indicate what are the most important benefits to them. Explain that this will help them to receive the most appropriate information for their needs. Of course, you won't be able to change your printed literature to meet individual's needs (although this is now becoming increasingly possible), but you can change the sales letter which accompanies the literature.
So, in every sales situation, you must always sell the benefits, rather than the feature. And you should always try to sell only those benefits which match the prospect's needs.