Many entrepreneurs focus on selling features to prospective customers. In other words, you’re telling people exactly what they will get from your business. You explain the brass tacks of what you do and how you do it. For instance, a wedding planner that offers a day-of coordination package might talk about how they will arrive one hour before the start time to set up and remain onsite for ten hours on the wedding day.
Features are easy to explain to the client, and they offer a safe space for a salesperson to focus their pitch. After all, the client wants to know what they’ll get in return for their investment.
While there is inherent value in this approach, it’s typically not enough to differentiate your brand offerings from those of competitors. To the average buyer, your 10-hour package looks just like every other 10-hour package.
The secret to a winning sales call is in leveraging your benefits—the transformation you will provide in your client’s life that they won’t find anywhere else. Benefits go beyond the “what you get” to focus on the “why you need it,” as they touch on the pain points your prospects have (even if they don’t realize it!).
Although benefits are the secret sauce of your sales approach, entrepreneurs often find it much harder to focus on the “why”—so they default to the “what” and wonder why their leads end up booking someone else.
Let’s walk through an example to demonstrate the power of your sales messaging.
Say you are a corporate planner trying to win over a well-known brand looking for someone to plan their annual gala. It’s a huge opportunity, as it could lead to years of big-ticket sales for your business.
You could tell the prospect that corporate galas are your specialty, and you’re excited to help them with full planning services. The prospect walks away knowing exactly what you do and how you’ll do it.
On the other hand, you could tell the prospect, “My passion is helping nonprofits tell a story through their mission and create memorable experiences that facilitate reaching their goal of a million dollars in one evening. There is nothing more enjoyable for me than to watch my clients raise funds, have a great time, and impact their communities for good at the same time."
Which of the situations is more likely to lead to the sale? The latter, without a doubt. While the first prospect may walk away with a clear understanding of your offering, the second one is already thinking about how you’ll help them host a memorable event and help them reach their fundraising goals.
Now that the difference between features and benefits is clear, it begs the question: How can you optimize your sales strategy by leveraging both?
Speak to their pain points.
The best way to leverage your benefits is by making the sales discussion about them and their needs. Develop a list of powerful questions you can ask potential clients that dig into their most significant pain points. Only when you get to the root of their problem can you demonstrate how you will step in as their guide to solve it.
Features do not address pain points. You will need to discuss basics like their date, time, color scheme, budget, and other key elements to vet them, but covering these details will not show them why your business is the best option for their needs. Know their biggest challenges and tie them into your benefits, which are the incredible results that show how you’ve changed past clients’ lives before them.
When you use this approach, your potential clients are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the investment because they will see the full value of what you have to offer. They aren’t left trying to compare a price tag and a list of features with what they’ve seen from other businesses; instead, they understand your pricing reflects a transformative experience that is well worth the investment.
Skip the comparison game.
It’s easy to look around at the rest of your market and fall into line with “industry standards.” If everyone else is doing it a certain way, shouldn’t you?
Absolutely not! Do not waste your time trying to replicate what others are doing; there is only one you in this world, so it’s your job to share your unique gifts with others. People will want to invest in you when you share your story and offer in a compelling way, speaking to your benefits. If they see you as a carbon copy of everyone else they’ve interviewed, they will base their decision on price because it’s the only differentiator.
So consider this permission to be unapologetically different from all the rest. If you are doing something unlike anyone else in your market, it means you are on the right track. Authentic selling is vital to success, so be transparent and let your inner self shine through for others to see! Your ideal client will love what you do because they will see that your “why” is the transformation they stand to gain.
Get comfortable with experimenting.
Sales and entrepreneurship as a whole are about making mistakes and learning from them. Let “trial and error” become your companion on this journey! When launching new offerings to the market, give yourself at least three months for a trial period to see how it performs.
Test out different sales messages and try various marketing channels to figure out what works. Talk to people and ask for feedback to fine-tune your offering and your sales strategy. Embrace the missteps as redirections. If you lose a sale, consider it as an opportunity to improve your pitch next time. Nothing will be perfect the first time you launch, so don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations.
As you create, refine, and sell your offerings, always think about increasing value, increasing investment, and increasing access to you. Together, those three elements ensure a mutually beneficial agreement that ensures all parties feel like they’re getting the best deal around.
Kelly Ann Peck, founder of Emerson Reese Creative, is committed to helping event entrepreneurs create their own path in life by translating her experience into actionable strategies that turn ideas into profitable businesses. She guides creative professionals in developing a roadmap to their version of success, whether that’s building a six-figure business and discovering more freedom in entrepreneurship.