Learning how to sell value is one of the most transformational skills you can master. It will take your sales career and earnings to another level.
When I started as an untrained salesperson in the late 1990s, the best way to sell was to reel off the long list of features included with your solution.
This approach worked well until the global financial crisis of 2008.
Said to be the worst since the great depression of the 1930s, this crisis fundamentally changed the way companies made purchasing decisions and changed the sales profession forever.
An impressive list of features was no longer enough to win the deal.
The quick and easy sale became like an urban myth, and pushy sales tactics were no longer as effective.
Luckily, I’d been training myself not to use a list of features to sell my solution long before the financial crisis of 2008 happened.
I can honestly say that during the entire crisis, I made the most money of my sales career.
I was working for a leading supplier of digital publishing software at the time.
Our solution was impressive, but it required an investment of a minimum of £2500 in a market where smaller players offered solutions for £99.
The only way to compete and prove your worth against low-quality competition is to learn how to sell value.
You must focus on what value your clients will get from investing in your solution.
You must move away from selling features and benefits and start selling benefits and outcomes.
To make this shift, you need to start with a basic understanding of what features, benefits, and outcomes are, so let’s look at what I refer to as FBO.
What is a Feature?
A feature is what something is, such as a software or one of its many different elements. Your nose is also a feature of your face.
What is a Benefit?
A benefit is what something does, such as software that converts PDFs into digital magazines, or your nose that allows you to smell things.
What is an Outcome?
An outcome is what happens as a result of the benefit. Converting PDFs into digital magazines might increase your readership, and by smelling smoke from a fire, your nose could save your life.
An outcome is essentially the value your solution offers, which is what you should talk to your prospects about.
Many salespeople struggle to kick the habit of talking about features and often get benefits and outcomes mixed up.
An average car salesperson would typically sell me the idea of a brand-new supercar by saying it has an impressive amount of horsepower with a top speed of something ridiculous that enables it to travel from 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds.
That salesperson would be quickly stumped if I asked why they were telling me this.
Selling benefits may be enough to get you in the door, but if you or your contact need to sell your idea to a senior executive, you will need to talk about the value they will get.
Ideally, you’ll talk to your prospects about the ‘ultimate outcomes’ of investing in your solution, but I will get back to that later in the section on buyer motives.
I highly recommend you put some time aside to work on listing your features, benefits, and outcomes.
You have likely developed a habit of selling features and benefits – and habits are difficult to break.
Consider creating a spreadsheet with three parallel columns across the top, titled features, benefits, and outcomes, and begin with listing all of your features.
You’ll then need to write down the benefit of each feature before finally writing down the outcome(s).
This exercise will help raise your awareness of the differences between benefits and outcomes but will do little to break your old habit
To break any habit, you must replace it with a new one; to create a new habit, you need to practise and rehearse using role-play activities and then apply the new habit in a live environment with your prospects.
Almost every salesperson I’ve met sells using features and benefits.
The faster you break this habit, the sooner you can start selling value and closing more sales.
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