Benefits Sell!

We have all met salespeople who data dump a lot of information, a lot of facts, and a lot of details that don’t really resonate with us.  We have also met those salespeople who oversell, who go on and on about advantages of buying a product or service that don’t really mean anything to us. 

To create a presentation that really resonates – a presentation that really means something to each particular client, we must first know the difference between features, advantages, and benefits.

  1. Features — what products have
  2. Advantages — what features do
  3. Benefits — what those features mean

Imagine a continuum, on one side are features, in the middle are advantages, and on the other side are benefits.  If you want a presentation that really rocks, move away from features.  Sell advantages, but even more importantly, sell benefits.

Let’s talk in detail about the differences between the three:

1.  What is a feature?  A feature is a distinguishing characteristic of your product or service.  It is usually physical or tangible. 

Example:  CAR – this vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes and heated seats

                     HOUSE – pool, in the Sherman Oaks school district

Everyone has had a negative experience with a salesperson that data dumps.  Just to demonstrate how ineffective this could be, I’m going to share with you some features of a copier.  Just think about how hearing these features make you feel:

  • approximately 3W of energy used
  • Up to 50-sheet DADF (Duplex Automatic Document Feeder1)
  • 500-sheet cassette and 50-sheet multipurpose tray
  • PCL 5e/6 language support
  • 33.6 Kbps Super G3 fax
  • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed3
  • Single Cartridge System 

I don’t know what any of that does for me.  I don’t know what these are.  They mean nothing to me.  The problem with selling features is that we don’t care about features.  We care about what those features do for us. 

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-​​inch drill, they want a quarter-​​inch hole.”  Theodore Levitt  American economist and professor at Harvard Business School.

2. What is an advantage?  An advantage is what that feature does. 

Example: The anti-lock brake system is designed to bring you to a complete and straight stop without allowing the wheels to skid. This prevents loss of control and avoids sliding off the highway or into oncoming traffic.

Example:  The 50-sheet Duplex Automatic Document Feeder (DADF) will allow you to copy or color scan from one or two-sided originals and produce two-sided output with ease.

3.  What is a benefit?  A benefit is what that feature means to your prospect.

Example: What it means is that the 50-sheet Duplex Automatic Document Feeder (DADF) allows you to cut your paper usage as much as half and that you can save money if you are printing at a high volume.

Example: Door-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags  to keep everyone in the car safe in the event of a side-impact crash. A dual headrest mounted DVD player screens might mean a lot to you if you have children.  It could mean that your children stay safe.  It could mean keeping your kids happy and keeping yourself sane on long road trips.

But, if you don’t have kids these things don’t matter to you.  Right now in my life I am more interested in having a wooden steering wheel, so that I can tap my nails on it.  That is actually a feature that is important to me.

Just as ineffective as the salesperson who data-dumps is the salesperson who sells benefits that don’t really matter to us. 

Our job before we get to the presentation stage of the sales process is to ask the right questions to identify someone’s needs, so that we can present the advantages that are important to our to them.

If you would like to really have a stronger presentation, here is an exercise that you can do:

Take a look at your product or services

  1. Make a list of all of the top features
  2. List the advantages – describe what all of those features might do for your customers
  3. List the benefits
  4. Craft questions that would elicit your prospect to admit that they have a need for that benefit


If you can fully explain what each of the features does and what that really means to your prospect, you have an advantage over your competition.  You have a double advantage if you are smart enough to figure out how to sell the benefits that really matter to them.

Remember: Features tell – benefits sell!


Emmie Young


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