After two decades of research, I have discovered that five categories offer the most efficient description of genuine benefits. These categories are represented by five words, each beginning with the letter P. The five categories are:
pain relief, preservation, pleasure, profit and prestige.
The 5 Ps can be matched with Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Maslow argued for several levels of human needs, the most basic of which is the need to satisfy hunger and thirst (pain relief). Succeeding levels of need include the need for safety (preservation), love and belonging (pleasure), esteem (prestige) and growth toward self-actualization through education, justice, beauty and order – needs which commonly require financial resources (profit). These 5 Ps are the most efficient way of categorizing the real benefits you can offer a customer.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides some guidance to the meaning of each of the 5 Ps. When a suspect is experiencing pain, frustration, difficulty or hassle that can be solved by your product or service, you offer a pain relief benefit. If the suspect is under threat from a competitor who is encroaching on market share or an environmental condition that could destroy them, they are in need of the preservation benefit that would protect them from the danger or demise. Expanding or introducing positive conditions provides a pleasure benefit. Increasing the esteem of your suspect in the eyes of his peers, subordinates or supervisors is a prestige benefit, and increasing revenues or cutting expenses is a profit benefit.
Finally, benefits are powerful enough to stand alone, while features must be accompanied by benefits. When the occasion permits, the use of features can strengthen the benefit claim but features are not required when posting benefits. On the other hand, if you choose to use a feature in your conversations with a suspect you must also use a benefit. Remember, when you talk about features you talk about you and suspects are only interested in themselves.