Features and benefits are often presented in a table in a proposal. But they are also addressed throughout the text. The following list can help you call out the things that matter most about your offering, its attributes, or its specifications.
What really matters though is how the customer is going to benefit from the presence of a feature. But how the customer benefits depends on the evaluation criteria and the customer’s needs and preferences. Some things can be either a feature or a benefit, depending on how the customer perceives them.
The topics below are not intended to be the features themselves, but rather are topics you can use to discover features to present that are relevant to your offering:
- Performance. What about your offering will have a positive impact on performance? How will it meet or exceed any performance standards or service-level agreement?
- Sustainability. What about your approach makes it more sustainable and lowers maintenance or total lifecycle costs?
- Scalability. In high growth or unpredictable environments, scalability can very important. What about your offering enables you to ramp up capacity or rapidly reduce it? How will it enable you to respond to peaks and valleys in the workload?
- Efficiency. How is your offering more efficient? How does it enable the customer to do more with less or conserve?
- Responsiveness. Customers don’t like to be kept waiting. What does your offering do to prevent that?
- Lower cost. Price always matters, even if it’s not quantified. Price strategy, such as increasing short term costs to lower long term costs (or vice versa), also matters.
- Value. Sometimes customers will spend more to get more. Sometimes they won’t. When they do, it helps for the value to be tangible, if not thoroughly quantified.
- Reliability. Downtime and failure has a cost. A reliable offering saves the customer that cost.
- Risk. Most customers are risk averse. All the little things you do to make sure things don’t go wrong can be features.
- Seamless. Many things the customer buys have hidden (or even known) costs related to installation, configuration, and implementation. A seamless solution can be ready quicker without these costs.
- Security. Security happens at many levels, personnel, physical, network, software, etc. Everything you do to protect your assets can be features if the customer is concerned about security.
- Size. Bigger or smaller. If it matters, it’s a feature.
- Weight. Weight becomes a feature when you have to carry or ship something. Sometimes a heavier weight is better. Whatever the reason, if weight is a concern, it can be a feature.
- Coverage. Your ability to cover the time, locations, geography, subject matters, etc. can be a feature.
- Flexibility. In unpredictable or changing environments, the ability to adapt to changes becomes a feature.
- Measurable. Simply being able to quantify or measure things can lead to better management and performance, making it a feature.
- Speed. Faster is not always better. But if speed matters, it’s a feature.
- Verifiable. When trust is an issue, being verifiable becomes a feature.
- Certified. Certification brings with it a presumption of qualification and reliability. Since you are in the role of being a sales person, certification can add a layer of third-party verification to your capabilities.
- Standards compliant. Being standards compliant is a form of self-certification. It implies that your claims are verifiable. Depending on the nature of the standard, it could also bring other benefits like compatibility.
- Off-the-shelf. Off-the-shelf parts and solutions tend to be lower in cost and quicker to implement.
- Customized. Sometimes the customer needs a solution that is tailored to their specific needs. An off-the-shelf solution may (or may not) be a good starting point, any customization you do becomes a feature.
- Experience. Your relevant experience is a feature and not a benefit. The benefit is what the customer gets as a result of your experience. But experience is a feature.
Often features can be found in what you normally do. They do not have to add to the cost. For example, if you follow ISO quality assurance methodologies, then instead of just citing “ISO 9001:2000 Certified,” you might want to list features like the following: audited process compliance, repeatable methods, fully documented, independent quality oversight. These are all things that come with being ISO certified, but when they are listed out as features they will make your proposal seem like it offers better value, even when you are competing against another ISO certified firm.
All the little things you do to make sure things are done right, prevent problems, fix things, or make things better can fall into this category. Just avoid features that don’t matter to the customer. The goal is not to have the longest list of features (even though that’s a feature in itself), the goal is to have the most impact.
Also, you should remember that while features are good, customers buy based on the benefits that features deliver and not the features themselves.