Basics of effective Selling

Know your Product

Every product (whether it is a service or a commodity), has a unique combination of features and benefits. Understanding what these features and benefits are, and recognizing just exactly what combination of them best applies in satisfying the specific needs of each customer, is one of the critical keys to effective selling.

Determine features
Emphasize benefits
Know your competition


Determine Features

Every product has features. Features are those attributes or capabilities that a product or service has that can be objectively identified.

For example, everyone who sees a shoe would describe it as having a particular color, a heel of some kind (or not), being made of a certain material, and so forth. These are features of the shoe.

Look at your product as if you are seeing it for the first time, and make a detailed list of all the components or features.



Emphasize the Benefits

A product’s benefits are the perceived value that the customer would associate with the features. Most features will have at least one benefit, and usually more. In addition, there may be a couple of levels of benefits.

By listing the features and their associated benefits, you are mapping out a strategic plan for selling your product.



Know Your Competition

How can we learn more about the competition?”

Strong competition is virtually always a reflection of strong market opportunities. It’s important to identify the competition’s strengths as well as weaknesses. Otherwise, you could actually end up helping your competition by promoting benefits that, instead of being unique only to you, are shared in common with your prime competitor. You can learn more about your competition by:

  • Talking with prospective customers
  • Reading your policy manuals
  • Going for an outing
  • Reviewing trade publications and journals
  • Conducting an on-line Internet search
  • Reviewing the Yellow Pages
  • Window shopping
  • Observing media advertising
  • Reviewing classified ads in newspapers
  • Studying a competitor’s product literature
  • Purchasing and using a competitor’s product



Know Your Competition

With all those benefits that you’ve listed, you should now be able to promote your product with ease, right? Maybe. Maybe not. What if there’s a competing product out there that has many of the same features and benefits as yours? You won’t know unless you are well-informed about your competition.

To sell effectively, you need to know your competition, and you need to incorporate that knowledge into your sales approach. One good way to assess your competitive position is to develop and maintain a competitive analysis that incorporates the features and benefits of both your products
and your competitors’. Take steps to differentiate your product from the competition’s by following some basic but tried-and-true rules of competitive selling.



Rules of Competitive Selling

Here are a few basic rules of competitive selling that are followed by most professional sales people:
1. Never sell negatively.
2. Avoid mentioning your competition by name.
3. When asked a question about your competition, don’t mislead or lie. Instead, provide an objective response that is brief and to the point without being overly helpful.
4. Address the differentiating features and benefits by positioning your own product in positive ways, for example, “Our gadget has a switch that can’t be easily turned off accidentally, which could be a problem if the switch were more accessible.