Features and functionality have a key role in your core story, but you have to position them to realize their selling power. And there’s a cautionary piece when talking about them that can jeopardize your sales process. The danger is discussing features and functionality before you’ve established a benefit.

If not positioned, your customer will translate your features and functionality into benefits on their own. These translations will happen because customers don’t buy features or functionality, they buy the things they can do with them (benefits). So, while you’re talking about the wonders on your datasheet, your customer is translating these things into something they can do with them. You can’t let something as import as these translations happen on their own, this is when purchase decisions are shaped.

Discussing features and functionality before benefits reduces your value and subjects your offering to a battle of commodities. This commonly results in sales people complaining they need to offer more discount and require enhanced features to win a deal.

Features and functionality are merely things that allow you to deliver benefits. You create opportunities, solve problems, make money, and save money for your customers as a result of employing one or more features and functionality of your offering.Features and functionality are meaningless until they’re employed to do something. Your speeds-feeds-features-functionality only matter to the extent they prove your ability to deliver a benefit.

[info]I want to be clear, features and functionality are important — they’re the things we do or build. The message isn’t you shouldn’t talk about them, it’s that you should talk about them in a certain way — in support of the benefit you offer. Features and functionality are a key part of your core story, creating and enabling benefits. They’re a tangible reason a prospect can believe in the benefit you’re offering.[/info]

When you directly tie features and functionality to a benefit, they are highly relevant. The super-set is when you tout a feature or functionality that creates meaningful difference in support of delivering a benefit. In that case, you’ve offered powerful reason to believe.

What say you?

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