How many times have you called a hotel looking for a room, and heard the guest agent on the other end either give you a price for the room and nothing more, or quickly add the features in a perfunctory, flat tone, “We have a pool, microwave in the room, free internet, free continental breakfast, and a workout room.” Questions immediately arise in my head, “Really? Doesn’t almost every hotel in the area offer those amenities? What makes your hotel special? What am I really getting for my money?”
This happens all the time. In fact, a friend of mine was planning her daughter’s wedding, a momentous event, and when she began calling around to hotels, said that she got a similar approach with a little better attitude. In this case, the sales representative asked some general questions; When will the wedding be? How many people? Do you need any other conference rooms or just a banquet hall? And then the hotel representative quickly proceeded to list off what the hotel had to offer. Well, we’re sure you’d love our hotel. We offer 365 luxurious rooms with either 2 double beds or 1 king, as well as suites, equipped with microwave, fridge, free Wi-Fi, and an array of cable channels, free continental breakfast, workout room, free shuttle to and from the airport, a beautiful banquet hall, and 4 conference rooms. We are centrally located, next to great restaurants in town, with a lovely garden in the back, where there is enough room for the ceremony. Feel free to check out our website, and then we can set up an appointment. She said she thought to herself, “Well, that sounds fine and she was nice, but she didn’t really hit on what I needed, so I’ll call around.”
What was the sales rep missing? She accurately gave the amenities of the hotel (the features), but that wasn’t enough. Listing the features, but not the benefits, is the missing link to this sales equation As trainers in the hospitality industry on customer service and sales, Signature Worldwide has developed a Client Centered Sales Program targeted at helping Inside and Outside Sales representative sell more effectively. In the training, there is a huge focus on the importance of turning features into benefits, leading to more personalized experiences, stronger customer relationships and increased sales.
Isn’t it fascinating how very few sales people actually talk about the benefits, instead they focus on just the features. What is the difference between a feature and a benefit, and why is that important to the success of the sale? It is sometimes confusing to some of my participants in class, so it is helpful to make it very clear. The Feature tells you about the hotel and what it does, and the Benefit tells you what those features do for your customer personally. It’s the old adage of…What’s in it for me? We all live on our own “Selfish Island”, don’t we? Once you have this knowledge, and appeal to people on their Selfish Island, you are one step closer to making the sale. So, how do we fulfill needs and land the sale? Make it personal!
I took the example of my friend, and used it in my training, but repeating it with one key phrase, which turned a feature immediately into a benefit…which means to you. Below are a few examples of how seamless and natural it is to turn a feature into a benefit. Let’s take the phrases from the earlier example about the wedding.
- We offer 365 luxurious rooms with either 2 double beds or a king, as well as suites, equip with microwave, fridge, free Wi-FI, and array of cable channels, which means to you, we can accommodate all of your guests and you’ll be worry free to enjoy this once in a lifetime event. They can check their email, rest in the room between the ceremonies, make popcorn in the microwave, or use refrigerator for snacks. Does that work for you?
- We have four different size conference rooms, which means to you, a place to set up a little cocktail party before the wedding for everyone to comfortably mingle, bond and get to know each other. Is this something you want your guests to experience?
- We have a free shuttle to and from the airport, which means to you, your guests will have the convenience of just hopping right on the shuttle and heading to the hotel, saving them time and money. Does that sound good to you?
All you have to add is that magical phase, which means to you, and you’re on your way to turning a feature into a benefit. Then, follow it up with something that appeals to them emotionally or logically, and the sales equation is complete.
What does it mean to appeal logically or emotionally? First of all, it has been proven that people buy emotionally and back it up with logic. That’s why it’s so important to appeal to both. “Logic makes people think. Emotion makes people act”, according to the experts below. Therefore, by gearing your approach to what they actually need on both an emotional and logical level, it will get you closer to the sale. Furthermore, “Emotions create movement and action.” It’s the rule of balance according to the Dale Carnegie Institute:
How is this done? When creating a benefit, you use the phrase, which means to you, and cap it off with logical and emotional benefits. Below is a chart on word suggestions that you can consider to easily turn a feature into a benefit:
Lastly, if you want to add a confirmation cherry on top of the benefit cake, then after you have stated all your features and benefits, just ask your customer a simple verification question, “Does that sound good to you?” or “Does that work for you?” If they answer, “Yes,” they will hear themselves getting closer to buying. If it’s, “No,” they just need more information from you that will benefit them.
Effective selling is an art that takes many colors (features) and strokes (benefits) to create a selling masterpiece. Having the right attitude in place, caring about your customers and knowing how to turn your features into benefits means to you more sales, more sales, and more sales! Subsequently, building value, revenue and reputation for your company, personalized relationships with your customers, increased commissions for you, and a sense of accomplishment knowing that they feel important and taken care of, and you’ve done the right thing!