There is an age-old business nugget that says, “Features tell, but benefits sell.” But what happens when the customer can’t tell the difference between the two?
When it comes to F&I products, this situation happens all too often when the sales team and the F&I department are not aligned on where to focus their attention. Let’s consider the difference between features and benefits…and the concept of value.
When you “sell a feature,” you describe some element of your offering, in the hope that the customer will be suitably impressed. Example: “Our interior protection package utilizes a state-of-the-art chemical sealant!” Unless the customer is an expert in upholstery protection, this feature will mean nothing. Feature selling is generally ineffective because customers usually can’t figure out why a particular feature or function is meaningful to them.
Our penetration rates and PRU have doubled during the time we have been working with Ed. The company that he partners with for finance products is also very good, receptive, and deal-oriented.
– Pam Harwood, Peters of Nashua
When you “sell a benefit,” you are still essentially describing a product feature – but you tie it in some way that improves the customer’s situation. Example: “Our interior protection increases the life of upholstery fabric and carpet fibers with a chemical sealant that protects against spills, prevents excessive wear and fraying, helps retard fading, and makes cleanup a snap.”
While “selling benefits” is more effective than “selling features,” it isn’t always clear to the customer why that benefit is important in the larger context of the customer’s purchase. While the customer may know that protecting the interior is a generally good thing, it’s hard to compare that “good” to every other protection option available.
Let’s consider value selling. When “selling value,” you start with the goal that the customer would like to achieve – then tie that value to a specific benefit generated by a particular feature. Example: “The interior of this car is in excellent condition, and I know you will use this car for your business. Let’s talk about how we can keep the fabric and trim in factory condition with an interior protection plan. Our interior protection plan…” In other words, the “value” that you’re selling is not the amount of product for the price, but the financial impact of the purchase compared against the purchase cost. In this case, having a vehicle that will help the customer be successful in business.
Now, let’s go back to your sales team and F&I office. During the “information gathering” portion of the sale, the sales team and the F&I manager should both be involved to learn about the customer’s care-abouts. Why are they in the market for a new vehicle? How will the vehicle be used? What are the most important considerations when selecting a vehicle? Then both departments can focus on value selling the specific F&I products that will benefit the customer.
At Empire Dealer Services, we can work with your teams to ensure they understand the difference between features, benefits, and value – and how to apply these concepts to the F&I product portfolio.