Stop Using Features and Benefits!

The key to successful selling is understanding a client’s buying criteria and building your presentation around them. It is common knowledge that nobody likes to be sold to, but people love to buy, and because your prospects feel resistance towards salespeople in general, you need to present your product or service in a way that glides right past any resistance. If you can do that properly, your prospects will want to hear more and they will take action in response to your suggestion.

Stop using Features and Benefits!

How are you going to do it? Well, here’s the way to overcome it. Instead of naming features and benefits of your product and service, why wouldn’t you start with asking questions? You need to find out your client’s hot buttons, and they’re all located in the unconscious mind with their emotions, and their values.

When you know what someone’s criteria is for any given specific situation, you hold the key that unlocks the door to closing the deal. You have this piece of information that will open your prospects up, and you will be able to talk to their conscious and to their subconscious mind.

This is one of the really easy skills you could learn, but still people are not learning them, and there is a big advantage for you to use this newly acquired knowledge to book more appointments and, ultimately, to sell more.

When you start with your presentation, your messages will not only be right on target, they will be focused to the one thing and one thing only and that is what is really important to your clients. Here we are talking about not features, not benefits, but their hot buttons.

All humans are the same. We all have needs, we all have wants, we all have drives, and we need to connect to those wants and needs and drives. People love to buy. People love stories. People love to be led. Your role is to lead people, not to name features and benefits. Everyone can be persuaded.

This should be your mantra. You need to believe in that, that you can persuade everyone. But to start doing it, you need to uncover their hot button that will make them buy. Forget about selling logically. Forget about focusing on a logical rationalization of objections people have and to handle any objection they have logically.

Stop using features and benefits. Start talking to your client’s unconscious mind. Here I’m talking about their emotions and their values.

What is a Hot Button?

This is something that’s important to your client. It could be a problem; it could be a need, an interest, maybe even a passion. it is what motivates your client’s decisions, and your role is to find this hot button. Let your clients talk. Your job is to ask open-ended questions, and then you listen. But more importantly, you have to touch on the important stuff.

If you just use same old questions with each and every client you have, you will always get the same answer, and probably not be successful as you could be. Every person has things which are really important to them. At a high level, we refer to these as values, like security, adventure, freedom. But people also have values within a different context. In a sales environment, you have to uncover the values that are related to the situation they have, and these are referred to as criteria or buying formula.

Now, if you ask a person “What is important to you in your work?”, they will tell you what their criteria are for their work, like doing a great job, making lots of money, helping other clients. And if you ask the same person what is important to them about the place where they live, you get to talk to a different criteria because the context is different, and criteria are really context-dependent.

So your client’s hot buttons are dependent on the context of the communication. Your client’s criteria in an influence situation are their hot buttons within that context.

For example, if a person is buying a home and he or she says, “I’m really interested in a safe and secure neighborhood,” that’s what’s most important to them. Then those specific words are their criteria in that context, their hot buttons. When you start presenting, you have to use those same criteria to let them know that you understand them. It’s a part of reflective listening, where you use the keywords that people are mentioning to you during the questioning phase of the sales process.

Remember, you need to frame your questions in the EEE Representational System. Some people are more visual, some people are more auditory, and some people are more kinesthetic. It will help you to minimize mismatching in communication by asking the right question at the right time and in the right language, so people will understand you.


Has The Sales Process Changed?

Sales ProcessHave you found that your previously successful sales model is not working? Are you experiencing dramatic changes in how your customers buy today? Is it difficult to motivate your sales people to keep making those connections? Has sales changed?

In working with sales organization of all sizes and industries, selling services and products — the answer is a resounding, YES, sales has changed. Sure, there are fundamentals that will remain timeless.

To stay stuck in your old models is the definition of insanity “doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. The answer to this question is one of the biggest challenges (and opportunities) facing leaders today. So, let’s unwrap 3 key elements that have changed:

1.  Relationship selling is no longer enough – clients are looking for insights, ideas and innovations to drive their business!

  • In the past, the strongest relationships could create long-term sustainable revenues. Today, customers rely on their own research and education to build their objectives and therefore, are looking for true expertise from a sales professional. When you can make them say “wow, I hadn’t thought of that before”, then you have gained credibility with them and the opportunity to present your solution.

2.  You must meet the buyer where they are in the process…not where YOU are!

  • The traditional pressures of “what have you sold today” drive organizations and sales professionals to devalue what they bring to the table. The focus is always on the close, the sales cycle and what’s in it for the business/individual sales person. This isn’t how the buyer makes their decisions though. This is a complete shift in looking at a customer centered sales approach to drive your process.

3.  Interruptive sales and marketing techniques don’t work – they annoy your potential buyer!

  • People are overwhelmed with the amount of communication that comes their way today. How can they effectively sort through all of the messages coming at them to realize the potential opportunities that will impact their business? When you interrupt people, it annoys them. It annoys you when you are interrupted so why do we continue to focus on these old-style sales and marketing tactics? It’s time to connect and build community instead so that your prospects and customers value what you bring to them

For those organizations and sales professionals that embrace the reality that how people buy today has changed and look for ways to align with this new reality, incredible success will be achieved.

Live with passion,

Laurie Hawkins


Teaching Sales People is Like Teaching School Kids

If you are a Parent with children at School, College or University I am sure, like me, you have experienced the groans and moans around the dinner table as your kids discuss their various subjects and Teachers.  Have you noticed how some teachers can captivate and get your kids engaged with the subject?  Those Teachers and subjects quickly become the most popular and the children are much more likely to score a pass in the exams and sadly, the subjects with Teachers who cannot engage the kids, suffer from lower results.  Well, teaching sales people is exactly the same.  Unless your “Sales Teacher” can engage your sales people, challenge them to embrace new ideas and motivate them to go out and execute, then sadly your growth may end up in detention.  Here are our top 3 ways of teaching sales people and school kids to keep them engaged.

1)     Give Respect, Don’t Expect Respect

When you are talking to your kids about the teachers that do not engage them, you will quickly discover those teachers all “Expect Respect”.  I am older than you, I am the teacher, I know more about this subject than you do, I am better than you.  No, they don’t say it, but their body language and words tell you what they really think.  Sales Training is no different –  you have to give respect before you are ever likely to receive respect.  Whilst there is no guarantee this will work, I guarantee “expecting respect” does not work with any sales team in the same way does not work in any class room.

2)     Learn All You Can About Human Psychology

Have your kids ever complained about how their teachers spoke to them or how they behaved?  Small things do count and as a Teacher you need to be in complete control of your emotions.  Nurture your students and they will grow.  One wrong word, the wrong look at the wrong time and you will lose your audience.  At all times be very careful about what comes out of your mouth, as once you have said it you cannot take it back.  If you are going to make an impact Teaching it makes sense to learn and understand how your students minds work.  I’m Okay, You’re Okay by Thomas Harris is a great starting point for this.

3)     Challenge Your Audience

Sales People like school kids are smarter than ever before.  More and more companies only accept Graduates for entry level sales positions.  Combine this with the mass of information and resources available on the internet and many, many books on Professional Selling, means that most sales people are better educated and are more knowledgeable than ever before.   So if you want to engage them you need to challenge them with new ideas, new concepts and stretch their minds.

CEO’s and VP’s of Sales are sometimes ignored as they are “heard” all the time (a bit like nagging parents), yet a Sales Trainer can discuss the same strategy or tactics and the sales people all suddenly “get it”.  In many cases I have found that simply hearing the same message from a person outside the organization can deliver results.  Teaching anyone whether it be Sales People or School Kids is hugely rewarding and well worth the effort, but like your school kids, sales people will not respond to just anybody.  Your Sales Trainer needs to have humility, integrity, empathy, intelligence and be authentic, in order for them to engage your sales team in a way that impacts them.  You will never grow sales unless you grow your sales people first.

 Image credit: <a href=’’>coramax / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

By: Iain Swanston


Sell More, by saying Less

All too often sales people do an exorbitant amount of work on the front end for a prospect only to find the prospect not going with there product or service for various reasons. We’ve all been there.  I’ve been there.  It’s tough to be an effective sales person if you haven’t been there.  This can be extremely frustrating and decelerate the momentum it takes to be in sales on a daily basis.  Customers expect this however, they feel their business should be fought over, put out to bid, or many versions of proposals should be drawn up. Rightly so, they have put in their blood, sweat and tears and their business is an extension of themsleves.   It has been said many times in this day and age and is very true, people don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.

How do I as a sales person embrace this fact and increase closing percentages?

The answer:  Hold customers accountable, let them take some of the work load

Early in my career I had the pleasure of dealing with a very well known business owner (Tom) in the area and was at the point of presenting our findings for his company and had a meeting scheduled.  This gentlemen was very well connected in the area I’m sure he took the time to research my company and services we provided prior to getting to this point in the sales process.  I had (2) proposals becuase he had (2) locations, one was $20,000 and the other was $6,000.  As we sat down I put of them on the table and we started to discuss, the first phrase out of his mouth was “Brandon, I can tell you right now we’re not going to do anyting with the $20,000 proposal.”  A little taken back I moved it aside and replied, “O.K.”  As I did my obligatory discussion of terms and conditions for the other proposal,  Tom took the paper work and stared at it.  Silently.  This went on for minutes, which when you’re in a presentation can seem like years.

What should sales people do at the point of uncomfortable silences?  Dump product knowledge? Ask for the sale? Point out more information on the contract?

The answer:  Keep their mouths shut

Sales people do a lot of free work for prospects whether it be a market analysis, barriers to entry, designs, marketing plans, forcasts, ROI or the vast versions of financial reports.  How do we get the customer to do some work?

Back to the awkward silence-Tom stared at the proposal and I remianed silent throughout the process, he looked up periodically to ask a few questions and I answered them, as briefly as possible.  He then gave me the very unpoetic objection of “Well this looks good but I have to talk to my Accountant about the monthly payment terms, and I’ll get back to you.”  I asked, “If your Accountant on site, how could we discuss this today?.”   “Yes he is, I’ll be back in a minute.”  Tom came back and forth a few times asking questions which I sometimes answered with open-ended questions and again there were more awkwardly silent moments where I sat saying nothing,  just watching the gears in his head turn.  ”O.K., we’ll do the 12-month payment on the $6,000 project, and 24-month payments on the $20,000 project.”  I said, “O.K.”  I didn’t act surprised that he went with both, but in my head there were fireworks going off.

There was a lot a lot of upfront work done to bring these proposals to frutition and very little work getting them signed.  Tom did a lot of the work becuase he was held accountable. I was able to ask him easily answered questions that led him to the conclusion that this was good for his business, and I kept my mouth shut the rest of the time. THere were (3) main points I learned from this experience that I teach and train new employees on today:

1. The most important characteristic or ability a sales person should possess is to be able to listen.

2.  Being able to ask good questions and close a sale with a question, not a statement, is the most effective tool you can have on your belt.

3. Know when to talk, know when to shut up,  and let the customer work through it themselves, and do a lot of the work.

Sell more, by saying Less