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Features vs. Benefits

October 3, 2023

My friend Dario sells clothing for men.

But Dario would not tell you he sells clothing. If you ask him what he sells, he says, “I sell compliments and confidence.”

It’s catchy and compelling. He’s not pointing to the clothing he sells, but the impact that wearing his clothes will have on people. 

Said another way, he isn’t selling the features of his product, he is selling the benefits.

This makes me think back on my first job, working in retail at Brookstone, a store in our local mall. Our initial training focused on the features of the products we were selling. So when we talked to our customers about Tempur-Pedic mattresses (one of the highest priced items we sold), I would highlight how the mattress foam was originally designed for NASA, that it provides pressure relief, and prevents motion transfer. 

All of these were true, but it didn’t help me sell many mattresses. 

One day one of my managers showed me the flaws of focusing on features. He explained how highlighting benefits for customers would improve my ability to sell.

The mattress will help you sleep better.

It will relieve pressure on joints.
You will wake up more refreshed because you won’t feel your spouse tossing and turning at night!

Whether it’s clothing, mattresses, or anything else, if we want to sell effectively, we need to talk about benefits more than features. 

A feature is what a product does.
The benefit is what it does for you.

A feature of my book Inspired Every Day is that it is full of research-backed information on how to engineer inspiration in your daily life.
The benefit is that if you apply what you find in this book, you will wake up inspired every day.

A feature of our Chick-fil-A Leader Academy Program is that it is a highly engaging, video-driven curriculum.
The benefit of this program is that it’s easy for a teacher to facilitate, making it possible for them to make a big impact with less effort.

Because each of us have a desire to sound smart and credible, we often highlight features over benefits. This happens a lot in the world of technology. A group of engineers has worked tirelessly to create a new product, and they want to tell you all about how it functions. But in order to sell it, they need to emphasize how it will make your life easier, save you time, and help you move on to the next thing. 

The more we are enamored by what we’ve created, the more we will emphasize the features rather than the benefits.

So here’s my advice to you today: Whatever you’re selling, every time you share a feature, share a benefit as well.

When you’re recruiting a new team member, don’t just tell them about the job; highlight the benefits of working with your team.

When you’re encouraging your kids to eat healthy foods, don’t just tell them it’s good for their bodies; tell them it will help them run faster when they play tag with their friends!

When you’re raising money for your school, don’t just say the money is going toward books; say that the money is investing in the next generation of readers, thinkers, and leaders.

All of us are selling something. We will do it far more effectively when we clearly communicate the benefits!


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