This article discusses a proven sales technique that will be helpful to beginners and seasoned sales people alike – The F. A. B. Method.
Any seasoned sales representative will tell you that there are many components to the sales process. Among them are prospecting, getting the appointment, qualifying the prospect, identifying needs, making the presentation, checking for agreement and closing the sale.
Some would argue with me on this, but I believe that they are all equally important. You can’t get to step “B” without having successfully completed step “A”, and so on. That all important close would not be successful without first laying the groundwork, step by step.
Having said that, I would like to concentrate today on what many would consider the “meat” of the sales call – the presentation, specifically, a method called F.A.B.
Many well-intentioned sales people head out to the appointment without a clear plan of what they are going to say during their presentation. Perhaps they are new to the company and still learning the product line. Others might jump at the chance to enthusiastically rattle off all the many features of their product or service. While others, many who have been selling a long time, just like to improvise.
All of these approaches will produce hit-or-miss results, at best.
Salespeople need an organized approach. They need to present the product or service in such a way that the potential customer can readily see what’s in it for them. A long-standing, tried-and-true method to make sales happen is the F. A. B. approach.
F. A. B. stands for Features, Advantages and Benefits. It is a way of taking your prospects through the thought process of “so what does that mean for me?” After all, that is really all they care about.
Here’s the process:
During your meeting, after you have asked questions to determine what needs there may be for your product or service, tell them that as you understand it, they have a concern about how to save money (improve safety, or whatever) within their operation. It is important that the prospective customer knows you have been listening and understand their concerns. Tell them that you believe that your company can supply a solution to this concern. (I don’t like to say “problem” as many people don’t like to admit they have a problem.) Taking one feature at a time, starting with the one that will have the most impact, begin to discuss the features, advantages and benefits of your product or service.
FEATURE – A feature is a characteristic of a product or service.
Briefly discuss a feature of your product or service. I say “briefly” because you don’t want to take up a lot of time on this as the customer really doesn’t care about the feature at this point.
ADVANTAGE – The advantage is what that feature does.
You can spend a little more time talking about the advantage. You will get a sense of the gears going in your customer’s mind as s/he begins to realize what this means. Sometimes the sale is actually made in the customer’s mind during this time, long before you even discuss benefits or close.
BENEFIT – A benefit is how the advantage translates specifically to help that customer: Save time. Make money. Save money. Improve health. Provide peace of mind/security. Ensure safety. Increase status.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that they are selling a product or service. What actually sells are the benefits.
Always sell benefits
Some FABs are obvious.
Feature: Our Credit Union members receive a free checking account.
Advantage: They are not charged a monthly fee.
Benefit: You save money every single month.
Feature: Our baby strollers have two safety latches: One on the wheelbase and one on the handle.
Advantage: You can easily engage either or both safety latches.
Benefits: Two safety latches provide added safety for your baby and additional peace of mind for you.
Other times they are not so obvious and may not be of value to all customers.
Feature: We provide point-of-purchase displays and signage during this promotion for all distributors.
Advantage: You will receive the same selling tools as the larger stores, regardless of your purchasing volume.
Benefit: You will save time in that we are going to do the promoting for you and you will be on a level playing field with the larger distributors allowing you to make more money.
When talking about the advantages, and especially the benefits, always use the word “you”. This way, the customer can visualize himself actually using the product or service. It’s a great subliminal tool that no one really notices but does influence people.
Your product or service may have many features which translate into advantages and then into benefits. Please don’t make the mistake of telling your prospect everything your product has to offer. Studies show that the optimal number of presentation points are three. After that, people really don’t remember much. Besides, you may only need one FAB. That’s really all it takes.
Be sure to know as many FABs as your product or service has to offer. However, only present the ones (no more than three) that specifically address the concerns that your prospect has revealed during your questioning process. If they are impressed after the first FAB, by all means, ask your checking questions and go for the close.
The FAB method is a proven method for helping the potential customer realize the value of the products or services you are offering.
Learn it. It will serve you and your customers well.