Benefits > Features


I recently published a post about strategies that salespeople and entrepreneurs can implement to get in the proper mindset for sales.

However, I wanted to conduct a deep dive into one of the main points from that particular post: the advantages of selling benefits versus selling features.

Let’s start with some definitions.

A feature is an objective reality.

A benefit is a subjective experience realized from that reality.

A feature is the tool.

A benefit is the job-to-be-done with that tool.

A feature is a fact.

A benefit is a promise.

A feature gets you credibility.

A benefit gets you trust.

Credit: Christian LaFrance, adapted from

Your company makes ice cream sundaes. A feature is the chocolate sauce on top. The corresponding benefit is the experience of satisfying your customer’s craving for warm and rich chocolate after dinner.

Your company makes enterprise software to help midsize consulting firms acquire new clients. A feature is the built-in and customizable request-for-proposal templates. The corresponding benefit is your customer’s ability to pitch prospects by using their branding to make them feel ownership.

While your customer’s competitors are pitching clients with Word docs, you have enabled your customers to trust your design competencies without showing them a final product.

Your customer just wants you to know that you get “it”. Show them empathy.

Often, we don’t know what the actual benefits are of the features we build.

That’s why communicating with your users is crucial in the early days of building products. While you should ask about the problems facing your prospects, ask about how their reality would change if you were capable of solving that problem for them. That’s how you unlock the real benefits.

Other reasons why you should focus on benefits over features include the following:

  1. Articulating the benefits forces the customer to self-select themselves.

You have communicated the product in terms of the benefits-to-be-gained.

Now, it’s up to your customers to pick themselves to realize those benefits. If they want those benefits, they will self-select themselves. You also aren’t forcing them to do anything they wouldn’t want to do.

If customers say no, try re-communicating your understanding of their problems in the words they used. Are those their real problems? Dig deeper and re-frame the benefits. Maybe you don’t fully understand their problem yet.

2. Eliminate decision-making friction.

By articulating the benefits based on their problems, you’ve already done their homework. You have proven that you are capable of empathizing with them.

Often, salespeople and entrepreneurs can crystallize these benefits by bringing comparable case studies and customer reference letters to the meeting.

3. Chase “No”.

Do your customers want the benefits you’ve articulated or not?

Chase “no”.

If you’ve exhausted the problems that your features can solve and there are no real benefits that you customers can realize, then you’ve just successfully ruled them out. Waiting for your customers to confirm their buying decision only drags out the selling process, which is costly for your organization.

Pitch the benefits. Ask for the sale. And then move on, quickly.

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