Lesson 1: Features into Benefits

Whilst outwardly many retailers and their associated websites proclaim they want to deliver good customer service and guide the customer to the right, best-possible value for money option available, you need to remember that a business’s primary goal is one thing – to make money. They’re not a charity (and nor should you expect them to be). They will never deliberately mislead you into spending more money than you should, but they may not always be thinking of your best interests, despite what they say.

For example, one thing I have learned in retail is to turn the features of a product into something beneficial for the customer – but just because this is something taught by retailers, it doesn’t mean it’s always followed, and a few sly tricks may come into play to nudge you in the direction the salesperson wants to go.

A feature of a product is what it does. For a printer, one feature may be that it’s wireless. How does this benefit you? Well, if you have wireless devices in your home, you may be able to connect them to your printer and bypass the need to switch your PC on. It’s convenient.

However, what if you don’t want a wireless printer? What if that’s a pointless feature of the product? Did the salesperson stop to ask if you even have wireless internet in your home? They may be selling you features that sound good, and hitting you with several interesting features at once, without giving you time to think as to whether you actually benefit from them or not, and they’ll disorientate you into thinking you need these things.

Scenario 1: The new Laptop

You’ve entered a shop that sells a wide range of PCs and laptops. There are a few other customers in the store, already being attended to, and you have in your mind an idea as to what you want but you don’t know what’s on the market and have yet to conduct any research. You’re not completely new to laptops, but not an expert either.

You’re buying a laptop for yourself, to use for work. You only really need it for accessing emails and typing up documents. Ask yourself – does the associate ask you any questions about what you need the laptop for? Do they explain the features of the product and how they benefit you?

For example, the associate might say ‘this laptop has a Core i5 processor and 6 gigabytes of RAM, which means the laptop is quite fast.’ He’s not wrong, but is that relevant to you, and is the product good value for money? If this laptop is £499 and you can get one at £399 or even £349, is it really necessary to get the faster one? The associate may not be thinking in such terms. He isn’t setting out to deliberately mislead you, but he’s under pressure to get sales. Therefore the benefits of a product to him won’t necessarily be the benefits to you.

So keep to your guns. Most associates are not going to try and flog you something more expensive than what you need, but they’ll have one eye on how the sale benefits the store, as well as you.


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