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Feature and Benefit Selling is Not the Solution it is the Problem

Thanks to the popularity of feature and benefit selling, all information sellers are essentially non-distinct from one another. I call them "robocall" sellers. They sound not too unlike automated call features on phone systems. Remember phones?

Feature and benefit selling is the patron saint of traditional information sellers. It is their most hollowed deity. They pay homage to it every day out in the field with their dubious pronouncements. These high-octane, righteous sellers have unfulfilled information appetites. They are gluttons for information, and so are their customers, or so they think. It is a match made in heaven. Not!

These sellers pander to placate customer's intense desire for information (that they do not need). This sets up a huge mess of misinformation and over communication. Sales people over communicate their position and customers are left with under communicating their issues. You know how this turns out! Ugh!

Feature and benefit pitching represents a sliver of the buying process, it is totally out of proportion to what customers need to buy, and is given up way too early in the sales process. It is very insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Yet, conventional sales people will put up arms to protect their sovereign rights to selling with them.

Nothing fails like success. The degree to which you are proud, feel elevated and special about your product, is the degree to which you will be vulnerable to customers perceiving you as overbearing and self-consumed. Feature and benefit sellers position their offering to be remarkable, and it just ends up being unremarkable and very forgettable.

Feature and benefit proponets swear by it, detractors say it is just plain nonsense in the information economy where customers have easy and instant access to information.

The main disadvantage of feature and benefit selling is the fact that it represents a very logical and rational appeal to customers who buy intuitively, viscerally, emotionally and instinctively. Feature and benefit selling is not the solution, it is the problem.

If true happiness is getting out of oneself, then true selling is getting out of the way of one's product. As long as you let it define you, you will never fully define your customer's objectives and problems.

The secret to selling and problem solving is to help move ideas so that they can meet and connect with new ideas. Sales people suppress idea innovation and creativity by hogging sales calls with too much of it.

Once you go down the information road it is hard to dig yourself out of the grave; so hope for the best, and do not wait too anxiously by the phone. Information lobbyists and boosters need to have a gag order issued to them. Their monolithic sales strategy is bad for customers and for sales people.

I consider information selling and feature and benefit selling as self-expression run amuck. Information pitcher's self-expression hardly represents a hotbed of free-thinking, open dialogue and it does very little to advance the cause of sales people's credibility and value.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com