Posted by: Mike Willoughby | June 15, 2010

Features vs. Benefits

I learned many foundational sales concepts from a great natural salesman, Chris Yates.  I worked with Chris early in my career at PFSweb and I still hear his voice in the back of my head reminding me to pay attention to the details because my audience will be paying attention to the details.  One of the most important pieces of advice Chris would drill into me during our preparation for a sales call was: “Don’t focus on features!  Talk about benefits!  People don’t make buying decisions based on features.  People buy benefits and you have to make them believe in you and your benefits!”  Chris believed so strongly in this principle that he would literally tear up a presentation that was feature-centric and throw the shredded paper at me across the table.  Today, whenever I review a presentation, I hear Chris’ British-accented voice telling me, “Benefits not features, man!”

Chris’ primary rule of selling is exactly right and he has been proven right time after time in my experience. At PFSweb, we have great technology, wonderful facilities, fantastic people, rich and diverse commercial experience, happy clients willing to give us glowing references and a proven ability to execute on a complex project plan.  I have all these things at my disposal during my sales cycle with a client prospect.  But these are just features of my company.  Why would a client prospect care if we have great technology, facilities and people?  They will only care if they understand what benefit we can deliver to them using these features.  We can use our great technology to save them money and make them better at serving their customers.  Our fantastic people are passionate about our clients and their brands and they will do whatever it takes to execute each client’s mission flawlessly.  We use our facilities to protect our clients’ products and deliver great experience to our clients’ customers with every customer interaction.  Saving money, winning new customers, taking care of loyal customers, enhancing the brand and capitalizing on market opportunities are reasons a prospect might buy from me rather than my competitor who might even have a more impressive feature list than mine.

What does this have to do with faith?  I’ll tell you.  Sometimes I think we forget this principle when we talk about our faith and our church homes.  My congregation has great programs such as in-depth bible classes, energetic worship services, intimate small groups, a great youth program, impressive facilities and a great staff of caring ministers.  These are great features for sure, but so what?  What are the benefits?  How about we equip you to deal with the problems of life using the wisdom and teaching from God’s word, we help you worship God with passion and intimacy while receiving the blessing of fellowship and affirmation in return, we help plug you into a small group of faithful friends who will come alongside you and share in your life, we help your kids live faithful lives while they are still teenagers and encourage them to make good choices, we provide a place for you to come explore your faith and where it is safe to ask any question or share any doubt and we surround you with a staff of coaches, mentors and counselors who are dedicate to help you in your walk of faith.  Do you see the difference?

Jesus knew the difference.  He could have told his insecure and fearful disciples not to worry because heaven was a really great place with many amazing features such as fancy spiritual condos.  Instead he told them not to worry because he personally was making arrangements to live in eternity with him and the father.  See what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:1-3:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

I’m certain the rooms in the heavenly mansion are without compare.  I can’t wait to see them.  However, it’s not the heavenly décor that has me sold-out on Jesus Christ – it’s the company I get to keep.  Jesus promised me he his personally making a place for me to be with him in his father’s dwelling place.  Now that’s what I call a benefit.  As good as the features of our church homes may be and as competent as we may be in describing the tenants of our religion, let us never forget to put the benefits first.  Believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and live with God for eternity – Sign me up!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


  1. I’ll have to keep the sales thing in mind considering my role here :-). The application is so fitting too. I think all ministries should take a look at the benefits and the end goal of their mission, and not the fancy shiny stuff. Love the post Mike!

  2. Mike,
    I love the philosophy and agree 100% about the focus on on benefits. The benefit of Jesus rising from the grave. The power of the Spirit! The Word!

  3. Sign me up too! Great post

  4. That hits home! I need to see through the eyes of a “consumer”. This also reminds of the passion I need to have for great “product” that I am honored to present to others. Thanks Texhusker!

  5. I am closer to that promise than you are Mike in the departure lounge that is. Thank you for that. Heaven is going to be great.we know.

  6. I was just thinking today as I was in the church building how much I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE my church family. The building is beautiful, but it is what comes out that had made the difference in my life. I went in lonely and broken. Today I have a purpose for my life which includes joy and hope for the hereafter. This is a result of all those indept Bible classes, energetic worship services, etc.
    I am so grateful. What joy I have. Won’t it be grand?

  7. Mike, I agree, the FFVs are key, particulary the V – Feature – what it is, Function – what it does, Value – what will it do for me? Every consumer (as Mark referred to them) thinks in terms of what will this church do for me? The beauty is that though we never quit being consumers, the more we give to make the church ‘consumer friendly’, the better the church will be and the more we will be personally blessed! Matt. 7:12 Great post, Thanks!

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