The Difference Between Features, Benefits, and Value in Your Presentation

By Julie M. Hansen

If you’ve managed to communicate some value in order to secure a presentation, be assured your competitor has — and will — be tightening its focus on value as well. You now need to step up your understanding of value in order to use it to your full advantage.

In considering value, salespeople can easily get lost focusing on the many features of their product or service, assuming the benefits are obvious to their prospect. Or, alternatively, they talk about benefits and assume that they’ve done a sufficient job of conveying value. These common mistakes end up being very costly as they leave the interpretation of the value of the solution completely in the prospect’s hands. Having a clear understanding of how features, benefits, and value differ is important.

Features

A feature is simply an attribute or fact about your product, service, or company. As with most facts, a feature has no intrinsic value. Although the benefit may be obvious to you, it may not be obvious to your prospect, and, in fact, he may have an entirely different interpretation of what the benefit of a particular feature is.

For example if you state, “Our company has 15,000 employees around the globe,” that is a feature — a fact about your company. Now you may think the benefit is obvious: the prospect will have 24/7 access to personal service. But the prospect may think it means he is going to be a small fish in a big pond and miss that personal touch that is important to him.

An example of a feature: The car is fuel efficient and gets 50 mpg on the highway and 40 mpg in the city.

Never leave it up to your prospect to decide what the benefit of a feature is. Always associate a benefit with a feature.

Benefits

A benefit is not what you sell (your product or service) or how it works (features). A benefit is how that feature helps your prospect. Benefits are usually expressed in terms of loss or gain (for example, increasing sales, revenue, or profits or reducing time, cost, or effort), and are best when they’re quantifiable. Benefits are typically stated after a feature and answer the question on your prospect’s mind: What’s in it for me – or WIFM?

An example of a benefit: The car is fuel efficient (WIFM?), which means that you’ll save up to $20 per visit to the gas station.

Value

Value extends beyond what your product or service can do for your prospect and aligns your benefits with the prospect’s larger goals and objectives.

An example of value: The fuel-efficient car allows you to reduce overall travel expenses by 20 percent and aligns with your goal of reducing your carbon footprint by 5 percent year-over-year.

You may have similar features and benefits in each of your presentations; however, the value will likely be different for each individual prospect because it’s specific to each prospect’s objectives.