February 2, 2010

Understanding Feature – Advantage – Benefit

By lee r. van vechten

Most salespeople, in both inside and field sales, don’t really understand the difference between features and benefits. These professionals involved in either a negotiating or selling assignment or any transactional environment, need to fully understand that features (characteristics of a product or service) support the benefits or value to the prospect and his or her company. Benefits are often expressed in terms of dollars saved or enhanced, time saved or enhanced, and/or reduction of risk. It’s just that simple and not any more complicated.

The above is either a review for you or a brand new understanding. Either way, we are introducing the bridge element that is often used between features and related benefits. If the benefit can be made precisely clear, selling or negotiation becomes much easier. The bridge is often called the advantage. Mechanically, this technique looks like this:

Because it has…..FEATURE

You will be able to…..ADVANTAGE

What that means to you is…..BENEFIT

Take notice that there are three parts to the FAB technique. The program can also be reversed (BAF). The benefit can come first, then the advantage, and finally the feature. Let’s take a look at an example of FAB:

1. Because our software has wordless typing…

2. You will be able to type key words and sentences with function keys…

3. What that means to you is a 60 percent savings in time for each telemarketer allowing more productive selling calls and less fulfillment or support time…

That makes sense to you, doesn’t it?

In review:

1. The feature was: wordless typing.

2. The advantage was: type key words and sentences with a function key.

3. The benefit was: save time, allow more time for selling.

The reverse (BAF) would be:

1. If you want to save time and allow more time for selling we have the answer.

2. We use function keys to spell out word phrases and full sentences.

3. The feature that can do it all for you is what we call “Wordless Typing.”

Benefits often appeal to the individual and his or her business greed motivations. “How do I get more productivity” is a pure greed motivation. Remember, there are only three motivations to buy: Fear, Need and Greed.

Most business selling is through the greed motivation: more sales dollars, more profits, time saved, lower risk, etc.

Another example:

1. Because we compound your interest on your IRA daily and since you do not pay tax until withdrawal…

2. The advantage to you is that your interest will be tax-free until retirement…

3. What that really means is lower taxes while your earnings are high.

That saves hard-earned dollars and you are interested in that, aren’t you?

Two big run-on conversational sentences will do it for you. Use your imagination, be creative and try to be brief. FABs tend to make run-on sentences, so be careful.

Remember, if you are obtaining a lot of price objections you are probably doing a less-than-adequate job on your features and benefits. Telemarketers using formal and informal scripting devices should review them for correct techniques. If incorrect, review with your staff for change and test for results.

Identify the features of each of your major products and services and work out the FABs – if the benefit can be made precisely clear, selling or negotiation becomes much easier.

Lee R. Van Vechten is president of F.G.I., Freehold, NJ, a management consulting firm that specializes in turn-key telephone marketing installations for businesses. Lee is also the president of ComMark International Inc. which publishes The Van Vechten Report, a proactive sales-skills newsletter. For more information, please call 1- 800-682-5432.