Features vs Benefits: Why You Need to Know the Difference


“A winning sales strategy doesn’t just involve working out how to sell more of what you make. A better plan is to understand what people
really value and then to give them exactly that”

Bernadette Jiwa

To effectively sell personal training to prospective clients, it’s important to clearly understand the difference between the features and benefits of the service you provide.

From past experience coaching personal trainers in how to sell more effectively, I have learned that most don’t understand this difference and often use the terms “features” and “benefits” interchangeably.

What’s the difference?

Let’s take a look at the following statements…

“…I offer 30 minute, high-intensity sessions.”

“…As a client of mine, you’ll receive a personalized meal plan.”

“…You’ll be working on a weight-training program to help you get stronger.”

These are what you would call the features of your service, as they are factual statements describing what you will offer prospective clients if they decide to train with you.

Having a firm grasp of the features you provide is essential, and explaining them during your sales meetings with prospective clients is important. However, the old sales maxim still rings true: “People buy with emotion and justify with logic.”

Why does it matter?

Keep in mind that every prospective client that sits across the table from you has his or her own emotional reasons for being in that position. It’s your job—through active listening and intelligent questioning—to uncover as many emotional drivers as possible, so you can make the link for them as to why hiring you as their personal trainer is the best possible solution to their needs.

For example, let’s say that you’re having an initial sales meeting with a new prospect named Chris. Through the interview, you learn that Chris is a 41-year-old, who works in an office as a Project Manager. He tells you that he enquired about personal training through your facility as he wants to lose weight and build strength in this upper body—particularly through his shoulders. He also has two daughters, who are quite young—3 and 5 years old—and has never been a member of a gym before.

Let’s dig a little deeper

As it stands, you’ve managed to learn a decent amount of usable information about Chris in a relatively short space of time. However, we need to probe a little further to find out what has really motivated Chris to want to lose weight and why he wants to start working on it right now.

Through some further, well-crafted questions, you discover that one of the reasons he wants to lose weight is because he’s struggling to keep up with chasing his kids around the yard, which has understandably started to upset him. You also uncover that a driving reason for his wanting to develop shoulder strength is because he is struggling to pick up his youngest child and throw her in the air as he once could, only a few months ago.

Great work. You’ve just discovered some of Chris’s emotional drivers for wanting to join a gym for the first time ever and start a training program.

It’s important to keep in mind that people buy results, not programs. Because emotion is the strongest driver behind human behavior, to effectively sell a training program to Chris as the best possible solution for his needs, we need to connect the dots for him and explain why and how personal training is the right solution to satisfy his emotional desires.

Think of it this way. You’re acting like Sherlock Holmes, trying to extract the emotional reasons behind Chris’s fitness goal and essentially sell his own vision back to him—using personal training with you as the vehicle.

Now, let’s take the above, feature-based statements about your personal training service and see how we can blend them with Chris’s emotional drivers for wanting to improve his health.

Putting it all together

Feature-Based Only

“…I offer structured, 30-minute, high-intensity sessions.”

Features and Benefits Combined

“…I offer structured, 30-minute, high-intensity sessions, which will suit you nicely as you’re a busy corporate person, who doesn’t have a lot of time before or after work.”

Feature-Based Only

“…As a client of mine, you’ll receive a personalised meal plan.”

Feature and Benefits Combined

“…As a client of mine, you’ll receive a personalised meal plan to take the guesswork out of what to eat and to make the process of losing that unwanted weight as quick and as simple as possible.”

Feature-Based Only

“…You’ll be working on a weight-training program to help you get stronger.”

Feature and Benefits Combined

“…You’ll be working on a weight-training program, which will have the two-pronged effect of both helping you lose weight as quickly as possible and simultaneously helping you improve shoulder strength, so you can get back to playing with your daughter like you used to.”

As you can see, the above statements now blend the features your service provides with the specific benefits Chris is going to experience as a result of training with you.

Once you determine one or more underlying motives driving your prospective client to take action, be sure to mention, during your initial interview—and in any complimentary sessions you have with them—how training with you will tie in and satisfy those underlying motives.

The advantage of that is that it helps create a deeper rapport with your prospects, as they will see you as someone who understands their concerns. It also positions you as the expert who understands the quickest path to achieving their fitness goals.

Final Thoughts

While the features of your services may be valuable to prospective clients and unique to others in the industry, emotion will outsell logic every single time—so learn how to extract
your prospect’s underlying motives and sell them a better version of themselves.

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James McDonald

James is the founder of PT Blogger. He helps personal trainers grow their client-bases, earn more money and thrive in the industry.
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