Early in my career, a then marketing guru told me that nobody buys a product or a service. They buy the feeling they get from using that product or service. What he was trying to say was that, when buying a car, its not about the car but the feeling the owner gets while driving down the street in his/her new car. Remember “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”? While I still believe this to be true, it’s hard to pin this down without resorting to the exploitation of emotions. This may be successful for a consumer product, but it’s not usually effective in a B2B world (well maybe a little bit!). What works is to sell the benefits. The features are useless to a buyer, particularly corporate buyers, but the benefits will resonate very strongly (if they are the right benefits). Your product may have the fastest processor but that means nothing. What gets the buyers attention is the fact that, with the fastest processor, the user will be able to complete a given task 50% faster than he could with a competitor’s product.

How do you go about creating this message? You have to list all the features of your product and flip your point of view. What do those features mean from the customers point of view? It is entirely probably that a product with a clearly defined feature set would have very different benefit sets depending on the audience. The faster processor, as it is newer, would mean longer useful life for the support group; more rapid response for the operations group and lower costs for the finance group.

Some people refer to this as “WIIFM” or “What’s In It For Me?”. Whatever you call it, if you always express the features as benefits appropriate for the audience, your message will be better received.