“What’s it to you?” – Igniting Customer Desire

matchWhat’s it to me? Everything! If you can’t articulate why your product or service is important to me, you’ll likely not win me as a customer. Very often sales associates try to differentiate themselves by becoming subject matter experts. They then overwhelm potential clients with a litany of facts and product features with no regard for what’s actually important to the customer. In other words, what is the benefit to the customer?

Being able to distinguish between a feature (a statement of value) and a benefit (a personalized statement of value) is the key to igniting customer desire. When purchasing a luxury service or product, it’s less about need than it is about desire—and desire is emotion based. That means in order to tie into the emotion that will create desire, you need to position not only the value of your product or service, but its value to your customer.

To understand this better, let’s look at an example. Here’s a list of features for the Lexus LS 460:

  • variable driving modes for optimal fuel efficiency
  • all weather drive
  • executive-class seating
  • climate concierge
  • ingenious illumination
  • Mark Levinson® Surround Sound
  • active safety technology

The average salesperson might tick off these items like a shopping list, but the attuned sales associate will know which two or three features would be most beneficial to me. Perhaps I’m a mother of three and would like to hear more about the all weather drive and active safety features. On the other hand, maybe I like to go for long, solo drives and am excited about the executive-class seating and surround sound.

To position features as customer benefits, follow these four steps:

  1. Ask questions: Be strategic about the questions you ask so you can ascertain what’s most important to your customer. Using open-ended questions is one of the best ways to get your customers to talk about their likes and dislikes. (Learn more about asking great questions here.)
  2. Listen: Take time to digest what the customer is telling you. Try to avoid sharing facts about your product or service until you feel you have a good understanding of what the customer wants.
  3. Use the 5 magic words: When positioning a feature to a customer, explain why it’s important to them by using the phrase “what this means for you…” (Using the Lexus example above, this might sound like: “I understand having 3 kids in the car can be challenging. The Advance Pre-Collision technology detects not only the roadway ahead, but looks inside the vehicle to see where the driver is focused. What this means for you is added safety if there are distractions inside the vehicle. The system will detect when your eyes are not looking forward and will signal an alert if there’s an object ahead.”)
  4. Avoid the laundry list: Share the two or three benefits you believe offer the most personalized value. More than that and you risk overwhelming and confusing your customer.

Finally, here’s a litmus test you can use to see whether you’ve positioned the feature as a benefit. If after your statement the customer can ask “So what?” then you haven’t justified the benefit. (For example, Salesperson: “The Lexus 460 has all weather drive!” Customer: “So what?”)

As a customer, knowing why something is important to me creates a personal connection, which in turn touches me emotionally. This emotional experience is what sparks my desire. An expert salesperson understands this basic rule: Features tell, but benefits sell!

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