So, instead of speaking to him in ‘featurese’ deploy ‘benefitan’.

A product feature is what the product is; a product benefit is what the product does-and is what the customer buys. The inability to sell what the feature does is the cause of many lost sales. It doesn’t help matters that internal trainings passionately talk about features. For instance, “Our two-way lift is a game-changer because it opens from both sides. (Or, our revolutionary use of insects to eat pests will have them floored)”. Everybody in the room shares the excitement- and why not? All of them speak the same language and understand one another-the only problem is they are not the ones buying it. And the person buying it speaks a totally different language.

Speak benefitan not featurese

So, instead of speaking to him in ‘featurese’ deploy ‘benefitan’. Instead of, “We use biological methods in pest control (insects to fight pests)” try this instead. “Your flowers will fetch a premium price and be readily accepted in Europe.  This is because we meet European import standards. We don’t use any chemicals in fighting pest control. We use organic methods instead.” Notice we started with the benefit then explained how with the feature.  

Our internet speeds being 5mbps is a feature of the service. That, “You can download a typical movie in less than five minutes with our internet speeds,” is the benefit and is what the buyer understands (and buys). And the seller should, well, sell. When the bank chooses to waive joining fees for its credit card, the seller would be ill-advised to excitedly repeat this ‘breaking news’ to the buyer. Instead, speaking ‘benefitan’ he should intrigue the buyer with, “Excuse me Sir. Do you know the bank is giving away credit cards for free?”

Benefitan has dialects

In ‘featurese’ the flash disk is 4GB- in ‘benefitan’ it can hold 1,000 songs or fifty movies or whatever it is the buyer seeks. And that is the point- for maximum effect and acceleration to the close the benefits are best skewed to the buyer’s need. Hence the leather sandal carved by hand and with an African design on it can mean different things to different buyers. To the mzungu tourist, the seller at a stall (as I once evidenced) could explain how painstakingly the sandals were crafted. How they give the tourist a local look, especially when he dons them with this kitenge as it is what Africans used to wear. And how another pair would make a superb gift for a friend. By speaking ‘‘benefitan’’ he makes two extra sales. But that’s half the story.

To another (Kenyan) buyer, he got him to choose a pair by simply stating, “This one suits you because it rhymes the complexion of your skin.” Nothing to him about art, history or memorabilia-just looks.

Sell what it does, not what it is. That the lift opens from both sides is ‘featurese’. For regular readers of this column, what do you suppose the ‘benefitan’ equivalent is? Read this to find out

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