Benefits often prevent a salesperson from engaging with the real motivations of the buyer. In fact, the reality is even worse than this. Benefits do not actually exist at all. They are, in actuality, no more than an abstract idea.
For example, let's imagine a firm has designed a new car. The marketing team will put together marketing materials reflecting the car's benefits. So, it might be the most fuel-efficient car ever made; the benefit being that it is cheap to run, leaving you more money in your pocket. It may be the first non-polluting car ever made. This means that you can enjoy driving with a clear conscience.
However, if you are rich and don't care about the environment, these are not benefits at all. On the other hand, however, if you do worry about the cost of running your car and are concerned about the environment, then they are still not benefits; instead, they become solutions to challenges that you face.
It may seem that we are playing with semantics here, but that would be to miss the point. Thinking in terms of benefits may mean you come up with selling propositions about which your customers don't care. By thinking in terms of problems and solutions, this is less likely to happen.
To put it simply, every sale solves a problem. It may be a practical problem, such as putting petrol in you car, otherwise it won't go. It may be an emotional problem, for example buying a certain brand of car because of issues of status, aspirations or self-esteem.
By thinking of selling in terms of problems and solutions rather than benefits, you will ensure you are much more in line with your buyer's thoughts. You are more likely to speak their language. It will also prevent you from mentioning irrelevant details about your product or service for which they don't care. In other words, you will be more likely to make the sale.
Grant Leboff is one of the U.K's leading Sales and Marketing experts. His fourth book, ‘Digital Selling’, debuted at #1 on the Amazon charts prior to being published in September of this year.