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Elmer Wheeler Americas 1 Salesman
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Commercial HVAC Service Sales: Benefits Vs. Features

As we grow in an ever-changing industry, it’s easy to draw away from the basics. Every sales training book or video accentuates benefit selling. Assuming that everyone knows this most basic selling rule, I started leaving it out of my seminars. However, when going on calls with sales people, I realized that many of resort to selling features without tying them to benefits.

Elmer Wheeler said it best in a book he published in 1937. He said,  “Sell the sizzle — not the steak.” The book, Tested Sentences that Sell helped to propel him to the status of being “the greatest salesman who ever lived.” He built his career on benefit selling, which he called “Sizzlemanship.” His contention was customers don’t care as much about what a product/service will do, but rather what it can do for them.

How do you convert features into benefits? It’s all in the way you explain things. Here are some ways to turn features into associated benefits:

  • FEATURE: We have been in business for 40 years.
    1. Because of our tenure, during peak season you can be sure that we'll be able to respond to your needs promptly and with the proper technician.
    2. You can also be sure that one of our technicians is close by for fast response.
  • FEATURE: We have 40 trucks on the road.
  • BENEFIT: With a combined total of over 400 years of experience there is nothing we have not dealt with in the past. This provides our customers with problem-solving on the first call.
  • FEATURE: We have factory trained technicians.
  • BENEFIT: Our technicians are trained to provide specific preventive maintenance tasks on a wide variety of equipment. This assures that necessary tasks are not overlooked. The factory training also makes diagnostics quick and correct, resulting in less time charged to our customers.
  • FEATURE: We service more than 300 preventive maintenance agreements.
  • BENEFITS: Our vast customer base allows us to plan and schedule our work. This eliminates non-billable labor, reducing needless. This savings provides customers with access to the highest quality technicians at the lowest cost per hour.

Our large customer base also gives us the resources to provide the best diagnostic tools. As a result, we can identify problems quickly and accuratel, reducing down time and other associated costs.

Another Thought

Here is another thought about the advantages of selling benefits over features: Benefit selling differentiates you from your competitors. In a June 2012 article published on Inc. magazine’s website — How to Sell: Value, Benefits, or Features, author Geoffrey James writes that the key is selling benefits is much more effective than selling features.

He says, “When you ‘sell a feature,’ you describe some element of your offering, in the hope that the customer will be suitably impressed. Example: ‘Our widgets have dual-plug potzeebies!’

Earl King, E.L.King Productions
Earl King, King Productions International

“Feature selling is generally ineffective, because except for the occasional gearhead, customers usually can’t figure out why a particular feature or function is meaningful to them,” James says.

Benefit selling is the most basic, yet most overlooked, procedure in the selling cycle. Every sales person should be aware of all features that set your company apart from the competition. They need to tell customers how these features benefit them — the customers. Once they understand that, it’s easier to successfully complete the sale.                

Earl King is the founder of King Productions International, a commercial HVAC contracting sales consulting firm based in Texas. He speaks to associations and HVAC trade groups, and consults with commercial contractors across the country. E-mail Earl at: [email protected] or call him at 515/321-2426.

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