"The Navigator" News Blog

What’s Your Real Benefit?

Often, salespeople forget, or are scared, to deal with the customer’s real benefits as it relates to their product.  This article shows how to deal with them the right way.

Yesterday, I was driving along the highway when I saw perhaps the most powerful advertising message I’ve ever seen. It was for a hospital and it said this:

More People Who Come Here….Live.

Wow. That is some powerful stuff. Think about it; if you visit the hospital, isn’t your #1 hope to simply survive the experience? And, if in fact that is your #1 need as a potential buyer (patient), why don’t more hospitals address that issue instead of talking about room comfort, staff education, technology employed, and other peripheral benefits? Well, it’s for the same reason that many salespeople shy away from the key benefits of their “stuff” – fear or assumption.

The fear – at least in the case of the hospital – is obvious. By addressing the key issue of survivability, the hospital acknowledges that some people who go there die. Since acknowledgement of the OPPOSITE of the key benefit is decidedly unpleasant, I’m sure a lot of marketing experts shy away from mentioning it. My response, of course, is, “Do you think people don’t recognize the possibility?” It’s similar to when Johnny Cash played Folsom Prison in 1968, and the warden asked him to stay away from playing songs that would remind the inmates that they were in prison. “Warden,” Johnny reputedly said, “Do you reckon they forgot?”

This is a key question for salespeople or marketers who, through fear, shy away from key benefit statements because they are afraid of reminding customers of the opposite outcome. For instance, if a freight line advertises that “98% of our shipments arrive on time and undamaged,” they are also saying, “Of course, you have a 1-in-50 shot of your stuff winding up in Nome, Alaska with big dents on it.” Is that a worthwhile risk to take? It depends, I suppose, on how the 98% stacks up against your competitors. If it stacked up well, I’d say that the risk is worth taking.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin: Assumption. “Assumption” in this case means that you believe that your customers already know where you stack up on the key benefit, so it’s only worthwhile talking about the secondary benefits. Apple has done a great job of this with their campaigns regarding the PC vs. the Mac. (I should point out that I’m still a loyal PC user, but I’m impressed with the campaign.) The key benefit of computer users is that the computer won’t crash; meanwhile, most computer salespeople talk about hard drive size, RAM, etc. Apple makes the statement, “Our stuff won’t crash.”

So how can you use this idea to make money? Simple. Compile a list of benefits for your product or products. When you do, remember that NOTHING IS TOO BASIC. When you’re done, figure out what is the key, ultimate benefit of your sales proposition, then don’t be too afraid or too assumptive to use it. Remember Johnny – “Do you reckon they forgot?”