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By Maria Trizna May 24, 2018

Value Selling: The Difference Between Features, Benefits, and Value

When looking to grow revenue, a common strategy is to increase your deal size and sell upstream. Unfortunately, without a major shift in selling methodology sales leaders find the initiative unsuccessful. Traditionally, if the average deal size is relatively small, sales reps generally are able to successfully sell the product based on features and benefits; however, when the average deal size significantly increases, prospective clients expect to hear more than that—they want to hear and receive value.

Now value is great for many things, like product differentiation and increasing deal size, but it’s also a fluffy buzzword—especially when the best advice available advises to ‘appeal to the customer’s emotions’. And it makes sense, but what does it really mean? When it comes to actually conveying and articulating emotional value, there’s not many people who are able to do understand how to do it or how to do it right. 

From our consulting experience, we find it’s often due to the confusion stemming from traditional selling: sales reps don’t understand the difference between benefit statements and value statements. In this blog, we clear up the confusion and show how to build value propositions using examples of well-known companies that have clear and easy to understand value.

What are Product Features?

Features are product attributes or product aspects and capabilities. The key thing to know about features is that features are 100% focused on your product or service offering. To demonstrate, I picked a product or company feature from Apple, Amazon, and Blue Apron.

Apple: All devices sync up with each other.

Amazon: Amazon Prime purchases are delivered in 2 days.

Blue Apron: Step-by-step recipes and fresh ingredients are delivered weekly.

 

What are Benefit Statements?

Unlike features, which are 100% focused on your service or product, benefits bridge the conversation to focus in on the customer by demonstrating the advantage or gain the customer will get from the specific feature. To get to this information, try answering “so that” after each feature statement. For example:

 Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 2.23.29 PM

Going forward, I’ll have color coded examples to help you see how these elements build on top of each other.

Color Coding for All Examples

  • Blue = Feature
  • Green = Benefit
  • Black (Bold) = Framework inserts for exercise purposes
  • Orange = Value Statement

Benefit Statement Examples

Apple 

All apple devices sync up with each other, so that you have seamless access to all your information from any apple device.

Amazon

Amazon Prime purchases are delivered in 2 days, so that you can get your items quickly.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron delivers step-by-step recipes and fresh ingredients weekly, so that you don’t have to plan out your meals each week and go to the grocery store. 

 

What are Value Propositions?

When asked to explain why someone bought a product or service, the immediate answer generally revolves around the product’s features and benefits. This is the primary reason sales people tend to get confused. If my prospect says they bought the product because of the feature or benefit, then why shouldn’t I sell based on those reason?

The answer to that is the reason why people buy something is not always clear, even to the buyer themselves. And many research studies have shown that emotional drivers are by far the strongest motivators in our purchasing decisions—even in B2B sales, and especially high price-point sales.

Emotions manifest themselves through personal and subjective values. According to research conducted by Bain & Company published in a Harvard Business Review article on B2B Elements of Value, B2B value is found in the following categories:

*Functional Value: Most businesses compete in this category, and because of this, they struggle with differentiation and to deliver real value. More on this later on:

  • Improved Top-line Revenue
  • Improved Bottom-line Revenue
  • Product Quality
  • Scalability
  • Innovation

Ease of Doing Business. This is the category that gets more subjective and provides key areas for differentiation. Categories here include: 

  • Productivity Improvements
  • Relationship components
  • Strategic Advantage
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Product Access

Individual Value. This category is personal and subjective to an individual. Categories included:

  • Reputational Assurance
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Growth & Development
  • Design & Aesthetics.

*Functional Value: The research found that although decision-makers say they purchase based on functional value, they are actually much more likely to buy from business that offer value in the other two categories. Many businesses sell in the Functional Value space because it’s the logical thing to do and miss out on opportunities to convey emotional and subjective value. These businesses are often drowned out in the noise because everyone else in the market is saying the same thing.

So, in order to sell subjective, personal, and emotional value, your sales reps need to weave in messaging around the categories listed above. To actually develop the value proposition, try answering the questions your prospects are thinking and asking: What’s in it for me?”. To help answer this question, look at your benefit statement and try adding and filling out the blank area with messaging that’s reflective to the categories above.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 2.39.31 PM

Value Proposition (in the works) Examples

Apple

All apple devices sync up with each other, so that you have seamless access to all your information from any apple device. Because you have seamless access to all your information from any device, it makes it really easy and simple for you to stay connected and have access to all your information at all times—no matter where you are or what device you are using. 

Amazon

Amazon Prime purchases are delivered in 2 days, so that you can get your items quickly. Because your items arrive quickly, you can skip the store and eliminate the hassle of driving and waiting in long lines.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron delivers recipes and all ingredients weekly, so that you don’t have to plan out your meals each week and go to the grocery store. Because you don’t have to plan your meals each week and go the grocery store, making home-cooked meals is easy and hassle-free.  

Finalized Value Proposition Examples

Once you went through the exercise, you can rephrase the sentences to concisely convey your product’s benefit and value in one sentence. It’s also a good idea to put the feature towards the end, so you can lead with a ‘you statements’.

Here are what the final value statement would look like:

Apple: Apple makes it simple and easy to stay connected with seamless access to all your data and information across all your apple devices.  

Amazon: Get your items quickly and skip the hassle of driving and waiting in long lines at the store with Amazon Prime 2-Day shipping.

Blue Apron: Blue Apron delivers recipes and all ingredients weekly making home-cooked meals easy and hassle-free since there’s no grocery or meal planning involved.

 

Being able to understand the difference between features, benefits, and value is important. However, when selling value it’s critical to correctly map your value statements to different prospect persona and their needs. Everyone has different pain points and therefore will respond to value that speaks to that. This is a concept especially crucial to success in the B2B as there are several different people involved in the buying process.

If you think value selling is a sales methodology you want to implement in your sales organization, consider a fresh perspective from a sales expert to guide you in the organization change. Our intensive discovery process and Paint-the-Picture playbooks mapped to your buyers and your sales process, will create a thorough platform to educate your sales reps on a new value sell approach. Request your complimentary 30-minute consultation today!

Topics: Sales Strategy

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