Selling features vs benefits

11 Feb 2022

Master this sales skill to help buyers to take action


Sales success is defined by how well one understands the psychology of selling and buying.

In this article, you will learn a key factor that influences your buyer to take action more than any other factor.

This is to do with understanding what motivates the buyer to take action and what is the No. 1 persuasive sales skill to be used.

What is in it for me? (WIIFM)

The first rule of sales is to promote benefits and not features. In spite of this many sellers, find this difficult to practice. It is common to talk about the features of the product and expect the customer to figure out how the feature benefits him.

The fact is, the customer doesn’t have time or interest in doing this.

Features per se don’t answer the customer’s fundamental question “what is in it for me”?  Because of this, features do not motivate buyers to take any action unless the product you are talking about the buyer is already educated.

Explaining features means the seller is not using persuasive sales skills to influence the customer.

What motivates for action?

If not features, let us try to understand what motivates a customer to take action. Bob Stone, professor of direct marketing at Northwestern University, believes, “People respond to any given proposition for one of two reasons: to gain something they do not have or to avoid losing something they now possess.

The Desire to Gain something they do not have is moving towards that desired thing. Such as,

  • Towards making money
  • Towards saving time
  • Towards better health
  • To experience pleasure
  • Towards reducing effort
  • Towards being popular

The Desire to avoid losing something they possess is moving away from can be in terms of

  • To move away from criticism
  • To move away from losing money
  • To move away from physical pain
  • To avoid loss of reputation
  • To avoid trouble

What we can see is, that any customer is motivated to take action, only when he is persuaded by something which meets his basic human desires such as time, money, sex, pleasure, health, etc.

So when we map, use this persuasive sales skill by asking how our product or service can help him gain something he is not having or avoid losing something they possess?

Map to the ultimate results

As a customer-centric seller, you will need to map the benefits to the ultimate results the buyer seeks which is to gain something he is not having or avoid losing something he already possesses.

Describing benefits as an extension of the feature doesn’t serve the full purpose.

Take this example, if the product is say latest PC which has an 8GHz microprocessor.

The feature is a fact and here it is 8GHz.

The benefit of this feature is it helps to run the applications faster.

What is the ultimate benefit or end result of running apps faster?

If you want to map to ultimate results, the benefit would be packaged as “By having an 8GHz microprocessor, applications will run faster and will help you finish tasks at half the time and beat the competition”.

As you can see by linking benefits with gaining time which is the buyer’s basic desire, you are using the most powerful persuasive sales skill on answering what is in it for me?.

The interesting factor, studies have shown is, that people respond twice when the benefits are linked to avoiding losing something customers possess compared to gaining something they do not have.

Ex: Instead of saying, our new LED bulbs will save money on electricity bills, you can say, using our new LED bulbs, you don’t have to lose money paying higher electricity bills, the buyer is more persuaded.


As we see, every salesperson must see how he can help the buyer see the end result. The result is what maps the buyer his desire of gaining something or desire to avoid losing something he possesses. Once this is mapped, it will persuade any customer to take action.