Using the FAB Method to Get a Buy-In

Using the FAB Method to Get a Buy-In

You have products, services and ideas to offer. You are offering something to others that you believe in, and you are trying to find just the right way to communicate it.

Communication can be a struggle. You know what you want to get across, but you don’t always know how to effectively do it, and you’ve probably been disappointed and frustrated in the past when your enthusiasm for something did not get through to someone.

It turns out that there are methodical ways to break down your ideas, communicate them in a more effective manner and get the buy-in you are seeking. Perhaps you have studied some techniques but found them difficult to remember, cumbersome to execute or too complicated to put into practice.

The FAB method may be your answer. It is simple to remember and is so easy that it becomes second nature with just a little practice.

More importantly, it facilitates communication of how your product, service or idea meets a real need without feeling like a clichéd sales pitch or manipulative ploy. Bonus — this is not just a sales technique, but a persuasive technique that can work in almost any situation!

FAB is an acronym for the words features, advantages and benefits. At first, you may think that these three words are shades of meaning of the same idea, but it is important to distinguish the concepts behind each to put them to work for you.

Let’s break them down a bit:

Features are what something does…

Advantages are the positives of those features…

And benefits are what those positives do for you!

Features tend to be easy to enumerate, and we often find ourselves listing features to people we are trying to persuade. But if we never get past listing a litany of features, people likely will not translate what we are offering to the benefit it will provide them.

Remember that the most valuable products, services and ideas are those that people perceive as solving some kind of problem in their lives. Your FAB presentation should go beyond just saying what you have to offer and translate it to the benefit it provides by addressing that problem.

So after you have made your own list of features for what you have to offer, it’s time to translate those features into advantages. For example, the advantage of a feature may be ease of use, convenience, accessibility, competitive advantage or what can be more readily accomplished because of this feature.

Again, many people make the mistake of stopping here. They reason that the advantages speak for themselves but forget to take the next step to drive the message home.

The benefit is the icing on the cake, the message of how the feature of this product or service solves a problem for you and makes your life easier. The benefit can be boiled down to what this means to you.

Let me offer a concrete example to you. My neighbor and I both have in-ground sprinkler systems in our yards. He has a control unit with a series of dials and an LED display. He’s been a little frustrated with it lately and has complained about digging through a cumbersome manual to figure out how to tell the unit what he wants it to do.

My sprinkler system, on the other hand, has an app. I can sit in my favorite chair with a mug of tea, quickly navigate through my options and have my sprinkler system programmed in minutes. Any questions are answered by a quick search function, and customer service, if I ever need it, is just a click away.

My system is easier, takes less time and provides me the benefit of avoiding time in my garage getting frustrated by a cumbersome control unit. I showed my neighbor my app one day, and he plans to switch over to my system.

Now stop and think back for a moment… What are the key features, related advantages and ensuing benefits of my sprinkler system that essentially sold itself to my neighbor?

Feature: an easy-to-use app.

Advantages: The app offers simple programming, quick access to FAQs and product questions I may have and an easy-to-use customer service feature.

Benefits: I get a chore knocked off my list without leaving my favorite chair and have more time for other things I’d rather be doing. Bonus benefit: My neighbor thinks I’m pretty smart.

When you try to sell a product or service, spend a little time thinking about the ultimate benefits that your target market is seeking. They want improved productivity, more profit, time saved and decreased risks, just to name a few.

Find their need, their soft spot, and draw clear lines between your features and the benefits they seek, showing how the features work for them (advantages) to arrive at those benefits.

You can even start your conversation with the benefit and work backward: Because you are looking for this benefit… you need this advantage that delivers it… and we offer this feature that allows you to do that.

There are a few important caveats to the FAB approach. One is to keep it brief. A FAB can be communicated in just a few sentences at most and should not drag on or involve rabbit trails that become boring or annoying or obfuscate your point. Keep it simple.

Another caveat is to make it sincere and avoid sales-speak that can appear manipulative or pushy. If you have successfully presented the benefit, you have done far more than any slick sales technique could ever accomplish.

Finally, make sure that your FABs are crystal clear. Are you saying exactly what you want to say and not overpromising? Polish your presentation up if necessary, and even practice with a trusted associate if possible.

Hey, you already know that what you have to offer is great, whether it is consulting services, baked goods, software or lawn sprinklers. You wouldn’t be doing what you do otherwise. FAB can help you communicate that to others in a way that helps them see it too.

With purpose,

Dr. Patrick Gentempo

Patrick Gentempo