As a sales professional, understanding and effectively communicating the benefits of your solution is paramount. However, many sales professionals find that their benefit statements don’t always hit the mark.
Why is this, and how can you ensure your sales pitches resonate more powerfully with your prospects and customers?
The Heart of Customer Solutions: The key to impactful selling is to nail the benefit statement. It is here that you must move beyond the features and the advantages of your product/service to the true benefit of the product/service AND how it addresses and closes your customer’s specific GAP (the difference between their current state and their desired outcome).
- Features – What it is – the tangible aspects of your product/service
- Advantage – How it works – the performance characteristics of the features
- Benefits – How it closes the GAP
Benefits are always in your customer’s “Odds Are,” should close your customer’s GAP, and should be outcome-focused. Simply put, your customer’s GAP and the benefit should be the same.
Early Stages: The Exploratory Process: How do you learn what benefits are important to your customer? By using the Exploratory Process!
High-impact selling begins early in the selling cycle, and by utilizing the Exploratory Process, you can understand and articulate your customer’s needs and GAPs. This process is rooted in strategic, diagnostic questioning that guides customers to a deeper understanding of what they want and why they want it.
A Case in Point: Consider a sales professional who works for a major software manufacturer. Their job is to sell as much software as possible. One productive way of doing this, of course, is to sell to both the commercial and consumer markets on a regular basis.
What should the sales professional calling on a large company determine early in the selling cycle?
- Existing equipment
- Numbers of computers in an organization
- Current software in use
- Number of locations
All are important. But these are facts, not GAPs.
If a customer says, “We need new, more dynamic software,” that is an important fact, but it is not a GAP. Sales professionals who use the Exploratory Process to uncover only facts will be frustrated in their attempts to make benefit statements that will influence the customer. Benefit statements will lack impact, and the sales professional will be forced to be overly dependent on the features and advantages of their software to influence the sale – a strategy that often leads to a focus on pricing.
Of far greater strategic value to the sales professional is the GAP in the form of desired outcomes – what is the customer ultimately trying to accomplish?
In a professional, consultative way, you need to ask:
“You said you want new, dynamic software; why do you want new, dynamic software? What are you hoping it will do?”
The customer’s responses may include such answers as:
- “to decrease customer complaints”
- “to decrease the expenses associated with pursuing poorly targeted customers”
- “to increase productivity”
Notice the words “increase” and “decrease.” If your solution will help a customer “increase” (productivity, profits, margins, customer satisfaction, market dominance) or decrease (expenses, customer complaints, time, legal exposure), then you are, in all likelihood, addressing “outcomes.”
Facts vs. Gaps: Identifying the GAP involves more than listing facts. It’s about understanding your customer’s deeper objectives.
For instance, in the example above, if the customer expresses a need for “new, dynamic software,” probing into the why reveals the desired outcomes – reducing customer complaints, cutting expenses, or boosting productivity.
Tailoring to Decision Makers: Each decision-maker or influencer in the buying process has unique concerns. A CFO, for example, might focus on ROI, while a Director of Marketing might prioritize advertising impact. Understanding these varied perspectives allows for creating benefit statements that resonate with each individual’s specific needs and outcomes.
Encouraging Open Dialogue: One area where sales professionals often fall short is failing to encourage customers to articulate their desires and motivations. Understanding these allows for the creation of more compelling, benefit-focused selling statements.
Linking Facts, GAPs, and Outcomes: The most successful sales professionals can connect the dots between the facts, the GAPs, and the outcomes the customer seeks. This connection transforms a feature-focused statement into a compelling, benefit-oriented selling point.
By focusing on desired outcomes and tailoring your solutions to address these, you can position yourself for significantly improved sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
Remember, in high-impact selling, the understanding of and alignment with your customer’s desired outcomes makes all the difference.