Why is it often recommended to sell benefits than features?

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Because benefits correlate to the customer’s actual situation, which personalizes your message and makes them trust you more.

Usually, in sales, the customer buys something to solve a problem or fulfill an imagined desire. Benefits speak to those problems or desires, helping a customer visualize themselves using and enjoying whatever you’re selling. Compared to that, features, while useful to more technical, repeat customers, are less compelling and exciting.

You still should use both, but with newer customers, I would lean toward benefits, and as you move up the ladder and certain customers become enthusiasts who know your product and industry very well, then you can get a little more into features. Still, benefits are key.

Let’s discuss more.

There’s a concept in marketing and psychology called the Curse of Knowledge. Basically, the more knowledgeable about a topic you might be, the harder it is for you to explain it to someone who is new to that topic, because you cannot relate to the questions and feelings a person might have in their position anymore.

I had this problem with my father when I was little. He was exceptionally impatient while fixing things, and whenever I was helping him fix the family car, he would ask me to get things that he had not introduced to me, like a socket wrench or a breaker bar. He knew what these things were, but he knew it so well he forgot that I, being a six-year-old kid, had no introduction to these things.

The Curse of Knowledge is seen in almost every part of human life, but it is very common in business. You can know that your product, say, a vacuum cleaner, has a stronger suction and a quieter motor than all the competitors in your price range. And you’re welcome to say that. But a customer probably doesn’t walk into a store with those kind of points in mind. They are probably wondering things like “can I use this to get stains out?” or “how much does it cost when factoring in the bags?” Or any one of many other potential, user-centric questions. Now, you could introduce them to these features, but you’d have to do it as benefits for them to truly understand. For example, if you just say the motor is quiet, they might picture why that would matter, or maybe not. If instead, you mention how it’s quiet enough that they could use it in the middle of the night to clean up a spilled midnight snack without waking up their loved ones, suddenly this benefit has a real purpose to themselves and their lives.

Put simply, most people don’t want the latest and greatest product. They want whatever will solve their immediate pains and problems.

For another example, imagine if a major fast food restaurant like McDonald’s released a commercial that said their burgers were now 5% more beef. That’s a little too much information, don’t you think? Sure, it’s a benefit, but it also begets some uncomfortable questions. What was that other 5% made of before? This is why most fast food commercials don’t focus too much on what’s in the food, what that experience of eating it is like, none of that. Instead, they create some kind of milieu, a mood connected to ordering their food, usually with friends, to imply that you can order their food with your buddies and have a great time. That’s a clear, personal benefit, and not even a guaranteed one, but it works. It’s what people actually care about.

I am hoping the above points support why one should sell benefits above features. If you’re interested in more customer psychology related to this, you can read my article: 5 Deep-Seated Customer Doubts That Kill Your Sales (And How to Erase Them). 

In conclusion, highlighting benefits over features is a smart technique for selling a product, especially to more common customers who are not as familiar with the industry as you are.

Please feel free to reply to me if you need any clarification.

Good Luck!

Thanks,

Cleo



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