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How to turn features into benefits, leading to more personalized experiences, stronger customer relationships and increased sales.
By Alissa Friedman
How many times have you called a hotel looking for a room, and heard the guest agent on the other end either give you a price for the room and nothing more, or quickly add the features in a perfunctory, flat tone, “We have a pool, microwave in the room, free internet, free continental breakfast and a workout room.”
Questions immediately arise in my head, “Really? Doesn’t almost every hotel in the area offer those amenities? What makes your hotel special? What am I really getting for my money?”
The usual approach
This happens all the time. In fact, a friend of mine was planning her daughter’s wedding, a momentous event, and when she began calling around to hotels she got a similar approach with a little better attitude.
In this case, the sales representative asked some general questions: “When will the wedding be? How many people? Do you need any other conference rooms or just a banquet hall?” And then the hotel representative quickly proceeded to list off what the hotel had to offer. “Well, we’re sure you’d love our hotel. We offer 365 luxurious rooms with either two double beds or one king, as well as suites, equipped with microwave, fridge, free Wi‑Fi and an array of cable channels, free continental breakfast, workout room, free shuttle to and from the airport, a beautiful banquet hall and four conference rooms. We are centrally located, next to great restaurants in town, with a lovely garden in the back, where there is enough room for the ceremony. Feel free to check out our website, and then we can set up an appointment.”
She said she thought to herself, “Well, that sounds fine and she was nice, but she didn’t really hit on what I needed, so I’ll call around.”
The missing ingredient
What was the sales rep missing? She accurately gave the amenities of the hotel (the features), but that wasn’t enough. Listing the features, but not the benefits, is the missing link to this sales equation.
As trainers in the hospitality industry on customer service and sales, we have developed a client-centered sales program targeted at helping inside and outside sales representative sell more effectively. In the training, there is a huge focus on the importance of turning features into benefits, leading to more personalized experiences, stronger customer relationships and increased sales.
Features vs. benefits
Isn’t it fascinating how very few sales people actually talk about the benefits, instead focusing on just the features? What is the difference between a feature and a benefit, and why is that important to the success of the sale?
The feature tells you about the hotel and what it does, and the benefit tells you what those features personally do for your customer. It’s the old adage of “What’s in it for me?”
We all live on our own Selfish Island, don’t we? Once you have this knowledge, and appeal to people on their Selfish Island, you are one step closer to making the sale. So, how do we fulfill needs and land the sale? Make it personal!
How to turn a feature into a benefit
I took the example of my friend and used it in my training, but I repeated one key phrase, which turned a feature immediately into a benefit: Which means to you.
Below are a few examples of how seamless and natural it is to turn a feature into a benefit. Let’s take the phrases from the earlier example about the wedding.
We offer 365 luxurious rooms with either two double beds or a king, as well as suites, equipped with microwave, fridge, free Wi‑FI and array of cable channels, which means to you, we can accommodate all of your guests and you’ll be worry-free to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event. They can check their email, rest in the room between the ceremonies, make popcorn in the microwave or use refrigerator for snacks. Does that work for you?
We have four different size conference rooms, which means to you, a place to set up a little cocktail party before the wedding for everyone to comfortably mingle, bond and get to know each other. Is this something you want your guests to experience?
We have a free shuttle to and from the airport, which means to you, your guests will have the convenience of just hopping right on the shuttle and heading to the hotel, saving them time and money. Does that sound good to you?
All you have to add is that magical phase, which means to you, and you’re on your way to turning a feature into a benefit. Then, follow it up with something that appeals to them emotionally or logically, and the sales equation is complete.
Logic, emotion and closing the sale
What does it mean to appeal logically or emotionally? First of all, it has been proven that people buy emotionally and back it up with logic. That’s why it’s so important to appeal to both. “Logic makes people think; emotion makes people act,” according to the experts. Therefore, by gearing your approach to what they actually need on both an emotional and logical level, it will get you closer to the sale. Furthermore, “Emotions create movement and action.” It’s the rule of balance according to the Dale Carnegie Institute.
How is this done? When creating a benefit, you use the phrase, which means to you, and cap it off with logical and emotional benefits.
Asking the closing question
Lastly, if you want to add a confirmation cherry on top of the benefit cake, then after you stated all your features and benefits, just ask your customer a simple verification question such as, “Does that sound good to you?” or “Does that work for you?” If they answer “yes,” they will hear themselves getting closer to buying. If it’s “no,” they just need more information from you that will benefit them.
Effective selling is an art that takes many colors (features) and strokes (benefits) to create a selling masterpiece. Having the right attitude in place, caring about your customers and knowing how to turn your features into benefits means to you more sales, more sales and more sales. ■
Alissa Friedman is a trainer with Signature Worldwide whose enthusiasm and engaging personality has lifted corporations to a new level of success across the globe. Friedman works with companies nationwide to help increase revenue by training employees, managers and teams on how to create legendary service/sales experiences for their customers. She holds a B.S. in communications from Southern Illinois University. To learn more, visit www.signatureworldwide.com.
Emotion vs. logic
People buy emotionally and back it up with logic. Below is a chart on word suggestions that you can consider to easily turn a feature into a benefit.
- Save money
- Save time
- Less work
- Less effort