In our company, as you might expect, we do a lot of training with our sales designers. We set aside every Tuesday morning for training regarding both product knowledge and selling.
Recently, I added a sales skill training process to these meetings. I have broken this into segments, and each week we work on a specific element. We began with a session called "first impressions," moved on to "the questioning process the following week, and then ahead to"F-Features, A-Advantages and B- Benefits."
I believe this training is important for experienced salespeople because, over time, I have found that many of them are weakened by the fact that they no longer do what it was that brought them to their high level of success in the first place. This training is also key for those who are less experienced in sales. They need to fully understand the concept of FAB selling, and how to do it.
It is important, regardless of your tenure in sales, to do FAB selling. You need to continually evaluate your successes and failures and adjust your presentations to assure that you are doing it correctly. First, I want to review what I believe are the "B- Benefits" of FAB selling for both you and your prospect.
Let's next define each of FAB's three individual elements.
Feature: This is what a product is, or better put, how it is constructed. A common example of a feature in the kitchen industry is dovetail drawer construction.
Advantage: This is what the feature does. Using the dovetail drawer example, this is the strength gained by the interlocking design of the joint and increased glue line.
Benefit: Continuing with the dovetail drawer example, it will last longer and not require replacement.
Now comes the tricky part; how you relay the FAB idea. Since we all have different word skills, it is likely we will say the same thing in different ways. Again, using the dovetail drawer construction example, here is how I might relay it to a prospect.
'Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, this brand of cabinets has the feature of dovetail drawers. The advantage with the interlocking construction and the increased glue line is that the drawer is stronger. The benefit to you is it will last longer and won't need replacement, which will save you time and money.'
This strong FAB statement takes less than 15 seconds to say and, when fortified with a demonstration, becomes very powerful. I didn't create the phrase, 'a sale will not take place unless it is understood there is a loss to be avoided or a benefit to be gained,' but I believe it. The statement to the consumers about the dovetail drawer feature gives them the loss to be avoided and the benefit to be gained.
Now for more good news. Our industry, I believe, has more features for everyday living than any other industry. You can always offer prospects something of benefit to them. That's why product knowledge is so valuable. It gives you the features. If you've honed your questioning skills, you will have found out exactly what features are of interest to your prospects because you know their needs, wants, desires and expectations. Now all you need to do is match your product and service offering to make the most perfect fit available.
A New Perspective
Whether you are an experienced sales designer or just getting started with a sales career, here is how I would suggest you raise your existing skill. Take a favorite product or service and examine it from the point of view of your next prospect. Find the most predominant Feature and study that Feature until you thoroughly understand what it is, how it is made and how it may differ from similar products.
Now look at what the Feature will do'the Advantage. Is the Advantage that it is heavier, lighter, faster, quieter, deeper, more attractive, easier to install? Now, take the Advantage and determine what Benefits will be gained by your prospect owning your product or service.
Let's use the Advantage of quieter. There is an old example: When a car door shuts, does it sound like a Chevy or a Cadillac? In our industry, isn't the noise created by dishwashers, ventilation systems, refrigeration, etc. important?
The more average the product, the more it sounds like a Chevy door. When you invest in the more premium product, you get the Cadillac sound. Customers need to know this, and you have to help them understand what benefits are important to them and how they will enjoy making the right decision. 'Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, the quiet XYZ [brand] dishwasher won't wake the baby and won't fill your home with monotonous annoying sound. In fact, you can be on the phone or even carry on a conversation in your kitchen without interference.'
It is important for you to put effort into creating your FAB process before you encounter the consumer. It is also important that you practice what and how you make your sales presentation to properly include FABs.
Once you have presented a Feature and translated the Advantages to your prospects in terms of the Benefits, you must ask if this is a Feature they would like in the project. Failure to ask the question and their feelings about this gives you no information and is a symptom of weak selling.
The Feature-Advantage-Benefit process is much like being an interpreter. Features and their Advantages are one language, while Benefits is another.
All in all, the Feature of this article is a focus on FAB selling skills. The Advantage is that there are examples on how you can acquire and implement or upgrade your skills. The Benefits are what I outlined earlier'plus maybe one more: You will raise your productivity, and with it your potential for increased earnings.