What's in it for Me?, Part 2

December 18, 2006

The Mousetrap Series…by Matt Michel
The Mousetrap Series is about helping you sell more mousetraps, no matter what the mousetrap is that you sell. I don’t care how good your mousetrap is, few people will buy it if you do not market it well.

Benefits Not Features
Almost everyone’s gone through feature/benefit exercises. The feature is the drill. The benefit is the ability to make holes. Yadda yadda.

If everyone’s been through the exercise, how come so many companies talk about features without bothering to mention benefits? For example, on K2’s website, the following features are mentioned for the Escape 5500 Unlimited ski…

  • MOD Technology
  • Triaxial Braided
  • Torsion Box

Huh? What they heck does any of that mean? Why should I care?

By contrast the Rossignol Bandit ski lists the following features…

  • Free dualtec
  • Shockwalls
  • Cut away tip
  • Construction freerideproof
  • Free absorber

But Rossignol doesn’t just list them. The company tells the prospect why they matter. For "free absorber," for example, they remark that, "This new interface uses a damping material built into the surface of the ski under the binding. The Absorber filters the vibrations and increases comfort, while maintaining maximum ski contact with the snow."

Determining Your Features and Benefits
A great service meeting exercise is to take a product and list the features in the meeting. Ask the techs to give you a list of benefits for the various features. It might be helpful to use the "which means" bridge. For example, if company provides on-site furniture restoration, you could say…

"We restore furniture in your home, WHICH MEANS you do not need to haul it to our shop or pay for it to be transported."

"We restore furniture in your home, WHICH MEANS there is no chance the furniture will be damaged transporting it to our shop."

Take the best five to ten features and benefits for each product and service and type them up. Give the list to the technicians the following week, while you brainstorm another product or service. Tell the technicians to study the list and keep it in their price books.

On the following week, hand out the next list and hold a contest. Have the technicians stand up and recite the features and benefits while holding a burning match (credit Tom McCart for this idea). The match simulates the pressure of standing in front of the customer. Hold a run-off between the top two and give the winner a prize (e.g., a ten dollar bill, a gift certificate to a sandwich shop, etc.).

Why hold feature/benefit contests? Hold them to equip your technicians with the tools they need to do their jobs from the sales and marketing side. You wouldn’t think of sending a technician out on the job without tools, but when you send him (or her) without the knowledge and training to respond to customer queries about your products and services that’s exactly what you are doing.

When a customer asks an air conditioning technician about setback thermostats, more than likely he’ll mumble, shift his feet, and look at his toes because he’s unprepared for the question. If a technician has gone through feature/benefit training, he might recall and spit out a feature or two and talk about why they matter. He’s in his comfort zone, educating the customer, but he’s also selling. Shhh! Don’t tell him.

 

Remember, the customer is tuned into WII-FM, 24/7/365. Talk about how things will affect him. Market to his core needs. Stress customer benefits.

Marketing is not rocket science, though few rocket scientists could ever market. They would get too hung up on the features.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2003 Matt Michel

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