Many sales reps and marketers truly believe in their products. They are convinced that the product is great, and they're also convinced that customers will love it.
However, there's often a disconnect between the reasons they are so excited about the product and the reasons customers may be interested in it. That disconnect can lead to missed opportunities, lost sales, and a lot of head-scratching on the part of your team members. "Why aren't we selling more of this product?" they may wonder. "What are we missing?"
In many cases, the root cause of the problem is a failure to use benefits-centered messaging when interacting with prospects and leads.
The Difference Between Features and Benefits
When we talk about "benefits-centered messaging," what are we actually referring to? Simply put, it's a type of storytelling that's relevant to and compelling for your audience. It's not focused on the what or the how of your product — rather, it articulates the why of it: why would your leads want to buy what you're offering? Why will it make their life easier, simpler, or better?
Benefits-centered messaging is much different from features-centered messaging. For example, imagine a marketing message focused on the features of a new smartphone. Perhaps it discusses how advanced the camera is, or how many pixels will be in your photos. The emphasis is on the technical aspect of the product, the what and how.
Now take that same scenario, and imagine a benefits-centered message for the smartphone camera. Maybe the message would be something like: "Capture your memories and relive them more clearly than ever before." The focus has shifted away from the technical specs, and onto why customers should be interested in the camera — in this case, because it will help them better remember precious moments for years to come.
The Two Paths To Purchase
At the core of every purchase decision is at least one of two powerful motivators: fear and desire. People either want to avoid pain or achieve a state of being better than the one they currently are in. All products and services are designed to help the buyer avoid the pain they fear or obtain what they desire.
Therefore, the job of your sales and marketing teams is to tell a story about how your product will help customers meet one of those goals (or sometimes both). You could even replace the word "benefits" in the phrase benefits-centered messaging with "positive outcomes" — the meaning remains exactly the same.
What's the point? Dumping a list of features onto your website or other forms of marketing content probably won't get you the best results. On the other hand, identifying what your customers truly want and need, and creating messaging that guides them to your solution, is what will help you get wins consistently. With that in mind, try looking at your product through the eyes of the customer by asking yourself questions like:
Remember, the same product may hold out different benefits for different people. So while it's important to know what a product does, it's just as important to understand what a product can do for the customer.
How To Beef Up Your Benefits-Centered Messaging
It's important for your company to have a solid, well-articulated identity. In other words, you need to answer the question: "What do we do?" Now, the challenge is to build on that foundation by answering the question: "What positive outcomes can our company help bring about?" In terms of interactions with your customers, there are two main ways to do just that:
1. Communicate Benefits With Your Marketing Copy
A lot of company websites out there start almost every sentence on their home page with "we" or "our." For instance:
The problem with these statements is that, frankly, just about any competitor could say the same thing. Experience, commitment to customer service, hard work — these are simply the price of entry in most industries. They're not differentiators in any meaningful way. At the end of the day, people don't buy from your company because of your expertise or technical abilities; they buy from you because of the benefits you offer, and their trust that you'll deliver on those benefits.
Therefore, your entire website (and any other marketing materials you publish) should speak to and serve the needs of your target audience. Don't brag about how fantastic your company is; rather, make it clear how you've made — and are making — your customers' lives better.
2. Center Your Conversations Around Positive Outcomes
Using benefits-centered messaging is especially important when conversing with leads. Many sales reps fall into the trap of extolling the virtues of their product without seeking to understand what specific fear or desire is motivating the person across from them. On the other hand, asking questions and truly listening to the answers can help salespeople to steer the conversation in the right direction, and ultimately toward a purchase.
Consider using the following questions (or variations on these questions) to better understand your prospects:
It's amazing how many sales reps don't ask these questions — and yet, getting the answers is often the key that will help you convince the customer of your solution's value to them!
In summary: don't focus so much on product features. Instead, think like your customers, and focus on the benefits they're looking for. If your sales and marketing teams practice this approach, you're virtually guaranteed to see improved results from their efforts.
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