Features and Benefits – Don’t Just Tell…Sell
Writing a proposal is like telling a story – a story about how your solutions to the Government’s problems are better than your competitors in a way that matters to the Government.
The key phrase in that sentence is “in a way that matters to the Government.” You may be able to tell a good story, and even ghost your competition, but unless your story “matters to the Government” it won’t matter at all.
So how do you that?
One way is to use features and benefits correctly. Seems easy enough, but too often companies get caught in what I call the “never-ending feature trap,” where features pose as benefits. So what’s the difference? Here are simple definitions.
- Something the Government requires or wants
- Something they’ll be willing to pay for
- Something that brings a recognizable benefit
EXAMPLE: Two times more manufacturing capability on current line than the monthly requirement
- Can be achieved sooner/faster to exceed (or satisfy) Government schedule
- Can be delivered at lower price, or leads to lower overall price
- Provides higher quality (e.g., fewer defects = longer time between failures)
- Readily available
- Results in lower program cost, schedule, technical, or overall program risk
- Results in lower environmental impact
- Provides proven safety
EXAMPLE: No capital investment required to add widgets to production line; saves time and money, and assures you on-time production
Tips for Effective Features / Benefits
To avoid the never-ending feature trap, remember this: “Features Tell, Benefits Sell.”
Here are two tips to get you going in the right direction.
1. Tie your features to the Government’s hot buttons so the resulting benefit really resounds with your customer
Your company, “Interface,” is trying to de-throne an incumbent. Your intel is that the Government is unhappy with the current contractor’s ability to provide real-time program status and help the agency share information among its divisions. Your proposal includes a customized, proprietary program management dashboard with 365/24/7 access capabilities.
Your feature, therefore, reads something like:
“Automated Program Management tools – e.g., custom InterfaceTM Portals with real-time management dashboards”
The resulting benefit is …
“365/24/7 dashboard view of program scope, schedule, budget, technical, and quality elements gives you and all your 12 divisions near-real time program status transparency”
2. Develop very specific features, quantifying them as often as possible
Rather than “Sustained Quality Production” try …“Produced 20,000 widgets for DoD since 2011 with ZERO PQDRs”
Developing features and benefits with the right impact takes time, competitive / customer intel, and some creativity.
If you’re struggling, reach out to me at Luanne@clientviewconsulting.com.