Understanding the Features & Benefits Sales Style

Among the selling styles we differentiate within the context of OMS is the classic Features & Benefits style. More like the stereotype of the sales person for the past century, this is a style emphasizing persuasive argument over asking questions, handling objections to move the prospect closer to the decision point, hard closing to seek a desired outcome, and opening the next door instead of hanging around to ensure the new customer is satisfied and well-serviced.

Found mostly where products are sold – automobiles, tour packages, business equipment, business technology and systems, the Features & Benefits style is increasingly successful where financial services are being converted into financial products, for example, term insurance, mutual funds, etc.

This style works well given the right product being sold under the right conditions. But the people who do it well come with an unstated set of conditions that every sales manager needs to understand.

In our OMS classification the core style for features & benefits selling is the Persuader. Sociable, self-motivated, and highly independent, this is the personality who matches up with a sales environment with specific attributes. A partial list includes:

  1. The marketplace is competitive and crowded. Marketing might generate inquiries, but the sales person acting independently and utilizing personal abilities makes the sale.
  2. Customers have established, known needs and buying motives.
  3. Qualifying for need is relatively simple, and the emphasis is upon the presentation and communicating the benefits of the features being offered to the buyer.
  4. There is generally a single buyer and the buying cycle is short, often only one or two interactions.
  5. Selling is 100% of the job, and service expectations are minimal.
  6. There is no need to adapt the product or to create a solution to a unique buyer problem.
  7. The common tools the sales person works with are deals, offers, buyer incentives, and deadlines.

If those are the conditions that exist in your business, then you require the Features & Benefits selling style and likely need to hire Persuader patterns and patterns which are similar in shape.

But there are limitations on what you can do with them once they come on board. Here are the “don’ts”…

Don’t try to teach them a new or “better” selling method – use what they bring or don’t hire them in the first place. Don’t ask them to step into the role of problem-solvers, where they have to uncover problems unique to the customer. Don’t try to turn them into consultants. Don’t place them in roles where the sales cycle gets stretched out over time and requires repeated contact or follow up. And don’t ask them to fulfill customer service expectations.

Success comes when people maximize their strengths and talents. The Persuader personality has plenty of those natural talents, and can be a top performer in the right role. But the Persuader will find the road to success far more difficult if hired into a Consultative or Relationship Management role where these talents are not aligned with the job expectations and his or her natural selling style actually becomes a barrier to making sales.

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