In the world of sales, there’s a technique called “Feature Benefit” selling. At a high level, it is a selling technique in which the seller ties every feature with an advantage or benefit that the customer wants or thinks is desirable. We can use this to our advantage as BAs in dealing with stakeholders.

How does feature benefit selling work? Suppose that you are purchasing a car. If the salesperson told you that the features are side-curtain airbags, fuel-injected cylinders, and a gas tank door on the right-hand side of the car, he has just explained the features. But what do you care? You care about the impact (or benefit) that it has for you. So, to sell you the car, the salesperson is going to tell you that the side-curtain airbags make the car safer if you are hit from the side. The fuel-injection makes a car’s acceleration smoother and has more dependable response – great for when you need extra passing power getting onto the highway. And a gas tank door on the right hand side? Safety minded for when you break down on the side of the road and you have to refill your tank – you are away from traffic (this was seriously the way that it was sold to me when I purchased my last car!)

How can we use this information to our advantage as BAs? If you explain how something that you are doing as a BA benefits the customer, you are far more likely to get buy-in from that stakeholder. Think of those items in your processes in which you experience stakeholder push-back. What are they? Now think about how those items provide value to your stakeholders. That is the benefit to them. When they understand the benefit that the item has for THEM, they are more likely to comply with your process.

For example, you need to have stakeholders review a business requirements document prior to your final review. Think about how having them review the document prior to the review benefits THEM. Does it make for a better quality document and a better delivered product for them? Does it make the best use of their time in the review session? Will it help uncover misunderstandings prior to the final document? Probably a combination of these.

Make sure that you keep track of your successes. By understanding the benefits and values that “sell” your “features” to your stakeholders, use that to build upon your stakeholder analysis. By understanding the business, and what provides them value and benefits, you will be more successful in getting them to align to your processes.

So, do you explain the benefits of a feature to your stakeholders, or do you leave it with “because that’s the process, that’s why”?

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