Other Factors in Making the Sale

Features and Benefits

Remember back when you were a kid riding around all summer on your bike without a care in the world? Nothing bothered you and life was good. You probably even had a family-run pizza joint down at the corner like I did. I can remember on Friday nights how my entire family would all meet down there at dinner time to enjoy a big slab of pizza and some sodas.

My favorite part was when my mom gave me quarters so I could play the pinball machines in between slices. If I ran out, she always seemed to have more. Moms are always good for change, you know. There was an endless supply of quarters coming from the bottom of my mom's purse—at least it seemed that way.

Looking back, and looking back as a marketer, I can see that it wasn't necessarily the pizza that got my attention—it was the pinball. That was something that benefited me directly, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the flippers. The feature, so to speak, was the pizza; the benefit was the pinball.

Now that I'm a big kid, I don't get to ride around on my bike all summer—and I sure don't get to play pinball very often—but I understand the value of features and benefits and how they play an integral role in the sales process. All products have features and benefits, but it's the benefits that motivate people to take action, or to buy.

Think about it. Why did you purchase your last car? It probably had all sorts of cool features and modern ameni-

Beautifully designed greeting cards are a great way for you to keep in touch with your clients. These are from Sarah Petty.

Beautifully designed greeting cards are a great way for you to keep in touch with your clients. These are from Sarah Petty.

Scenes from Michael Redford's studio show how a welcoming area can be designed to showcase a variety of portrait products.

ties, but when it came down to it, the benefits of those features is what got you nailed down. It had antilock breaks, which would keep you and the kids safe on those rainy nights. It had a DVD player in the back, which made it convenient to travel with young children on long trips. It had an extra large cargo space, which meant that everybody in the family could put their suitcase in. It had a surround-sound speaker system, which meant everyone could enjoy the music. It had a moon roof, so you could stare into the sky on those warm summer nights. It had a six-cylinder engine, which was strong enough to tow a boat but small enough to give you respectable gas mileage. You didn't buy the DVD player, or the moon roof, or the six-cylinder engine or the speaker system, you bought the benefits and the value that those particular things brought to your life.

Let's take this a bit further. What about the features and benefits of a ball point pen?

Feature: It has a clicker on the end that retracts the tip.

Benefit: You won't accidentally get ink all over your shirt.

Feature: It has black ink. Benefit: You can sign all of your legal documents with it.

Feature: It has a metal clip on the side so you can put it in your shirt Benefit: It won't fall out when you bend over.

How about a coffee cup?

Feature: It has a handle on the side. Benefit: If you are drinking something hot, you won't burn your hands.

Feature: It holds 8 oz. of fluid. Benefit: The contents won't get cold before you can drink it all.

Feature: It's white.

Benefit: It will go with just about any color you may have on your table.

How about an 8x10 print? Now you have to work a little bit . . .

Feature: It's an 8x10. Benefit: (1) You can purchase frames for it just about anywhere. (2) It will fit nicely on a desk or bookshelf. (3) It's suitable for viewing at close distances.

Feature: It's printed on archival paper. Benefit: The print will last for generations to come.

Feature: It comes laminated. Benefit: It will hold up to fingerprints, dust, and other potential damage.

Feature: It is UV protected.

Benefit: The print won't fade over time when exposed to a limited amount of sun.

As you may have guessed from all this, we're in the business of selling benefits and need to structure our sales techniques toward that goal. Look at the following examples. The bad ones emphasize the feature (the product itself), the good ones focus on the benefit (the advantage of buying the product).

Bad: What type of life insurance do you have?

Good: If your husband were to die today, how would the house payments be made?

Bad: Do you have a cell phone? Good: If your most important customer called right now, how would you get the message?

Bad: Who do you currently use for long distance?

Good: If your long distance charges were 50 percent higher than they should be, how would you know?

All of these questions make the buyer respond in terms of his own interests and how the benefits of those products can enhance the value of their experience with the product.

Get the picture? Next time you go into your studio, make a list of each item you have, then list the features and benefits of each. After you have them on paper, practice reciting them in conversation so that the words come out naturally. This is the language of a successful sales-person—and all you need is a little practice, practice, practice!

Eliminating Risk

Eliminating risk is another important factor in determining your customers' desire to purchase. If you can eliminate the risk in their eyes, they are much more likely to buy big. How much simpler can selling get, you ask? In order to harness the power of this strategy, ask yourself these questions:

1. In the eyes of my customer, what risks are they taking when they make a purchasing decision? (The risk of overpaying? The financial risk of going over their intended budget? The feeling they don't really need the product? The fear they will regret it down the road?)

2. How can I remove that risk during the sales presentation?

A risk is usually just a mental barrier that causes people to hesitate. As a professional salesperson, your number-one job is to identify the risks, then eliminate them as you go along—so you need to be an expert at risk removal! Nobody likes taking risks, but everybody wants the reward that risks brings with it. If the risk is the price, then the reward is the value. One at a time, brick by brick, remove the risks that the buyer perceives as stopping them from doing business with you. Then drive home the rewards, both logically and emotionally.

Overcoming Objections and Closing

If you hear things like, "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you later," "Let me talk it over with my husband and I'll call you tomorrow," or "I can get the same thing cheaper at the studio down the street," you are losing many potential customer each month—but needlessly so.

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