It's 2011 and still we are presented with B2B Websites, promotional materials, brochures and advertising copy that scream product features and so-called benefits.

Sales induction boot camp and annual sales training is built on a foundation of boring PowerPoint presentations that describe product in terms of features and benefits.features and benefits are dead2
A product feature according to Wikipedia is a distinguishing characteristic of a software item, (e.g., performance, portability, or functionality).
A product benefit according to Wiktionary is an advantage, help or aid from something.
For a product feature to be of benefit to a user, the user must firstly have the problem or sub-optimal condition that the product feature addresses and have a pressing need to resolve it.

It is impossible to know if a product feature will be of benefit without first understandng the client condition.

I therefore propose that we declare features and benefits a deceased concept in B2B selling...they have served us for the past 60 years of marketing computer technology, but it's time to move on, because the majority of salespeople struggle in translating product features and benefits into meaningful conversations with buyers.
Furthermore B2B buyers are not interested in features...they are interested in capabilities.

"Product Speak"

Successful technology salespeople by necessity have had to translate the output of product marketing; - features and benefits, (which I call "product-speak", which harks back to Orwell's "Newspeak") into a set of conversations to diagnose need and convey how the product/service could create value, when used in the customer's context.

Unfortunately a majority of salespeople have a tendency to revert to "product speak" in front of buyers, because that's what they have been drilled on and are comfortable speaking about.

It’s time to bury this features and benefits approach and stop wasting salespeople’s time and marketing and training budget on something no-one cares about.

What's Your Value Proposition?

Buyers today care about the value they will get from using your product/service and are always asking three questions,
  1. What are you selling?
  2. What’ll it do for me?
  3. Can you prove it?
Neil Rackham in his book, Rethinking the Salesforce states, "The role of the salesperson selling B2B technology is to create value for the customer".
Product Marketing’s role is to work with sales to create a core value proposition that sales can use immediately - without translation, and that buyers can easily understand.

I propose the following Messaging Architecture Messaging Architectureto effectively create your Value Proposition and to have it flow congruently through sales conversations, brand messaging and Website messaging.

 

Take-Aways

  1. No-one cares about your product features and benefits, except you.
  2. Prospects are interested in the capabilities you bring to the table to solve their specific problems–when they are looking for ideas and solutions; if your keywords are not showing up on Google page 1 on the Internet, then lead generation is going to be a challenge and expensive.
  3. Salespeople need sales-ready messages and whiteboard stories  that integrate relevant capabilities, a clear value proposition and related proof points aligned around product usage.