Advantages are often confused with benefits in marketing and sales communication — mucking-up a core story. As salespeople, we too often tout advantages as the reason to buy from us — a big mistake.
Advantages are the things you can do (advantage) with the things we do (features). People rarely, if ever, buy advantages. But they always buy what results from them (benefits).
Advantages are important to the extent they lead to a benefit worth buying — a trait they share with features and functionality, proof a benefit can exist. But benefits are the things we ought to sell, they’re the business we’re in, and they’re the things people want to buy from us. Benefits are how our prospects hope to gain from being our customer.
Advantages are merely things that enable benefits to exist from the features and functionality we offer. Advantages are groupings of features and functionality, not benefits.
Examples of features, functionality, and advantages — minus the benefit
Following are a couple examples of features and advantages, minus a benefit. Notice how the absence of the benefit prematurely ends the story — leaving a gap between the things we do and the things people buy.
Example: I can create greater open and read rates in direct mail (advantage) by using a particular writing process to create a sales letter (feature). The advantage is good, but only to the extent it results in something. No one wants to buy a letter that’s opened and read more, unless having it opened and read more results in something worth buying.[note]Advantages are things your customer can do with the things you offer, to achieve something that is a benefit. We cannot ignore advantages; your prospect won’t — they’re critical proof the benefit can exist.[/note]
Another example: By using the universal port interface (feature) you can remotely change communication protocols (advantage). Again, the advantage is good, changing the interface remotely can save time, reduce cost, quicken deployment of new services, etc. But who inherently wants to make such changes remotely except to achieve something else in their business?
Advantages are important to note, but they aren’t compelling until you map them to a benefit worth buying.
Homework to improve your sales and marketing communication
Following is a simple two-step exercise to highlight advantages in your offer and map them to a benefit your prospective customer buys:
- From your worldview, think about the things you do (features) and what you can do with them (advantages). List every advantage you can think of for the products and services you sell.
- Now, from your prospect’s worldview, list a result next to each advantage (benefit).
Hold onto this list, it’s the key to creating marketing and sales communication that compels prospective customers to engage with your and your company — eventually becoming paying customers.
As a salesperson and marketer, you want to talk about the advantages you offer as proof the benefit is real.
What say you?