My wife and I need gutters. When we built our house two years ago, we decided that with all of the expenses associated with settling into a new home some items could wait. But the time has come, so I’ve been making inquiries with numerous companies in Minneapolis. The entire process has made me question why some people choose sales as a career. As I’ve mentioned in this column many, many times, one of the most important things to remember when you are selling something – regardless of what you are selling – is that you MUST be able to properly align product features with consumer benefits. I’m constantly amazed at how few salespeople actually do this correctly.

It seems simple enough, right. We’re talking about gutters. Pieces of shaped aluminum designed to channel water from your roof to the ground below. On the surface, one would think this should be the easiest sale in the world to make. I’m calling a company asking for information because I know I need to buy something. The company knows I’m interested in buying – that’s why I’m calling in the first place! So I’m already considered a “hot” prospect, right? All the company needs to do is tell me what products they offer (features), how much it’s going to cost me, and why I should purchase from them based on products and services they offer (benefits.) For reasons unknown, this is where the sales cycle begins to break down.

In simple terms:

–        A “feature” is a factual statement highlighting a capability the product or service offers that satisfies a specific buyer’s needs.

–        A “benefit” is a gain, value or advantage the buyer will receive by using a product or service.

Using my personal example of gutters, here is how the company on the other end of the phone can win my business by explaining relevant features and benefits of their product and services:

–        A feature of our gutters is seamless aluminum construction

–        A feature of our gutters is 3” x 4” downspouts

–        A feature of our gutters is a choice of 60 colors

–        A feature of our gutters is a leaf screen

–        A feature of our company is that it is locally owned with 15 years of experience

–        A feature of our company is that we offer a 20 year warranty

Now that I understand WHAT I will receive if I purchase gutters from this company, the next step is for this company to tell me WHY it matters to me. What value will I receive from making a purchase with this company. Remember, this phrase: FEATURES TELL, BUT BENEFITS SELL!

–        The benefit of seamless aluminum construction is no leaking/no rusting

–        The benefit of 3” x 4” downspouts is efficient water channeling

–        The benefit of a choice of 60 colors is a perfect match to my house exterior

–        The benefit of a leaf screen is clog-free operation

–        The benefit of a company that is locally owned with 15 years of experience is assurance that the job will be done right

–        The benefit of a company offering a 20 year warranty is worry-free ownership

Can you see the difference? As you go through your daily routine of selling newspaper advertising products and services, simply remind yourself WHAT a client will receive and WHY it matters to them. After all, it is ALWAYS all about the client and what’s in it for them! Practice effective features and benefits selling and I absolutely guarantee that you’ll see more sales, more revenue, and more results from your efforts.

Now if I can only find someone to sell me gutters before the Spring rains begin to fall….

Have a terrific week,

If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or