3 Dangerous Feature Dumping Traps And How To Avoid Them

How to avoid feature dumping

by Ryan Taft

If you have been in sales for any time at all, odds are you have been guilty of feature dumping a time or two. Heck, when my career first started, I was taught that feature dumping is how you win the sale. Of course experience, education and world-class training has taught me the complete opposite is true.

If you subscribe to the feature/benefit sales process, I challenge you to look at it from a different perspective. Wait, not a different perspective. I challenge you to look at it from the perspective that matters most: Your Customer’s Perspective.

Think back to a time when you found yourself trapped in a sales presentation with a sales person that you desperately wanted to escape while the sales person droned on and on about all the “bells and whistles” of their product or service. Meanwhile, images of an animal gnawing it’s own foot off to escape a trap sounded like a better alternative than continuing to listen to their speech.

I am going to go out on a limb (no pun intended) and assume you do not want to be that sales person. With that assumption in place, here are three traps to avoid becoming a feature-dumping sales person that customers desperately try to escape.

Trap #1: Silence

Most sales people get very uncomfortable when customers go quiet. Somewhere (most likely in an old school sales training class) we learned a false belief that says, “If I am not talking, then I must not be selling.” So, we start talking to fill the uncomfortable void that silence creates. Even worse, we talk about features and benefits and how awesome and life changing our product is.

We say things like, “Let me tell you about our warranty,” or, “Did you know that this home has 2×6 construction?”

Now you’re probably thinking, “But Ryan, what should I be talking about?” My answer is very simple…DON’T TALK! This is the time to get your customers talking.

How? Ask a question.

The best question to ask when customers go silent is, “What are you imagining right now?” This works particularly well when the customer circles the product, like a car, or revisits a space for a second time, like a kitchen.

Trap #2: When customers say, “That’s different” or “That’s interesting”

Again, sales people translate this comment from customers as an invitation to dump information all over them. That’s false. What’s happening in your customer’s brain is that they are comparing what they are seeing to something they likely have now.

Instead of feature dumping, ask this question, “Compared to what?”

This simple question causes them to focus on the advantage of your product and how it could improve their life compared to whatever they currently have.

When I first saw the iPhone, I thought, “Wow. That’s different.”

You see, the iPhone was “different” because I was comparing it to my Blackberry. Imagining the difference between the two phones was far more impactful in my decision to get an iPhone than if the Apple salesperson started feature dumping about the A12 Bionic processor, camera enhancements or the more colorful OLED screens.

Trap #3: When customers compare more than two products at the same time

This trap is a subtle one because it looks like a major buying sign. You’ve been there before, I’m sure. You show your customer your product — a home, a car or whatever it is that you sell. Then, they want to look at one more version…and then another…and then another!

Here’s the trap: customers can’t handle too much information. None of us can. When you show too many product versions, you are overloading their brains with too many features, benefits and comparisons. This is why prospects often tell you, “We need to think about it.”

Never let customers compare more than two products at the same time. Before showing them a third option, ask them to eliminate one of the two they just saw. This keeps them comparing one-to-one at all times.

Don’t build a mountain of features and benefits so high your customers can’t (or won’t) climb it. Make it easy for them to purchase. Avoid these feature-dumping traps and change your customer’s world.


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About the Author: Ryan Taft

Ryan Taft
Ryan Taft is consumed with a passion for helping others achieve breakthrough results in sales, business and life. With a career spanning two decades training and coaching sales teams from call centers to new home sales to Realtors®, Ryan combines his knowledge of human performance, psychology and sales skills development to deliver extraordinarily engaging, energizing and insightful training experiences that drive peak performance at all levels.  Learn more at jeffshore.com and follow Ryan on Twitter.