Beyond the Sale: Promoting the benefit of hope

Can you find a way to sell the benefit of hope? The practice might very well provide you with a significant advantage, especially in today’s tough economy.

You may be familiar with the axiom, “Features tell, but benefits sell.” If so, then you know it simply means that, when involved in selling, we should avoid the trap of talking about or promoting “features” in favor of identifying and promoting the benefits that are relevant to our audience.

So how does the benefit of “hope” fit into the picture? Like many things in life, this concept is simple but not easy.

The key is to learn enough about those in our audience – their challenges and goals – so that we can identify what might provide them with hope. This is not easy work. It requires effective probing and (of all things!) listening skills, and it requires the use of both common sense and imagination. But we must determine how our product or service can help them improve their overall position going forward. We must figure out how to help them become hopeful going forward into what, by all expectations, will be a difficult economic year. And then we must share the hope and good news in terms of benefits.

For example, if you sell consulting services, how will your customers benefit from those services? Are they hoping to reduce head count, hiring or training costs? Are they looking for ways to save time? Can your consulting services help? If so, how can this best be quantified and presented?

If you sell technology or office equipment, how might your customers benefit? Are they working to enhance productivity or lower operating costs? If so, how can your solutions help them achieve these goals or objectives in 2009?

In other words, instead of worrying about reduced budgets, lower spending limits or total cutbacks, the mission is to work harder at identifying and presenting the most relevant solutions — solutions that will give your customers hope in their ability to achieve their objectives or deal with their challenges.

Closer to home

Selling takes place at many levels. While many of us sell products and services to our customers, business owners or managers must also “sell” concepts, policies and procedures to staff members every day. Regardless of the venue, the most successful sellers are those who are able to identify and promote the “right” benefits.

So when interacting with employees – often referred to as “internal” customers — our mission this year is to promote the benefit of hope. Hope for a secure future. Hope and belief in their ability to achieve success despite the gloom-and-doom presented each day in the news.

If the economy is, at least to some degree, a function of consumer confidence and attitude, then let’s become the catalysts for a more hopeful perspective.

Paul Donehue is president of Paul Charles & Associates, a Londonderry-based sales management consulting firm.