FAB – Do you know a Benefit when you see it?

image As an engineer I look for proof points. The scientific method is the tool I use to validate proof points. Ask a Question, Do some Research, Form a Hypothesis, Test the Hypothesis, Analyze, Come to a Conclusion. Don’t hold this against me, but keep in mind that it has served me (and mankind) pretty well. The question is … Can this same methodology be used to evaluate sales & marketing pitches?

Can logic be applied to Sales & Marketing efforts?

I think the answer is yes. I’m pretty sure we all do this even without thinking about it, but I felt it might be worthwhile to write a quick post about it and get your thoughts.

Do you know a Benefit when you see it?

When you are making a decision how do you differentiate between a Feature, an Advantage and a Benefit? Do you ask the FAB question? Where the FAB Question is --- Is this a Feature, Advantage, or a Benefit?

FAB - Feature, Advantage, Benefit

What’s the difference?

Feature A functional element
Advantage A differentiating factor
Benefit Adds the desired value

A Practical Example – Buying a Car
When buying a car and the sales rep says something like its got the biggest engine in its class or it’s got the largest payload. The question you should be asking yourself is … Is this a Benefit for me? Only YOU can decide which features are actually benefits.

image Note: I’m not trying to disparage automobile sales reps. It’s just that most people have purchased a car or at least seen a television commercial for an automobile. This could just as easily been a mobile phone sales rep – mentioning coverage areas. Or anything else where “benefit” statements are being made.

Of course, a good sales rep would have asked you at least a few questions about your needs. However, if you see a commercial for a car or come across an infomercial you still should be asking yourself the FAB Question --- Is this a Feature, Advantage, or a Benefit?

A real world example of why we have a Chevy Suburban

Statement: This car seats 7

At which point you should be asking yourself the FAB Question and you should be thinking …. Is this a:

Feature Yes. Everything is a feature (in a sense).
Advantage Hmmm. There are other vehicles that seat 7. Is this the right one?
Benefit Is this really a benefit? Only we could decide. Since we regularly drive our kids and their friends around the extra seats are necessary.
Conclusion Because of the seating for 7 and the 4 wheel drive and the towing package and several other features we deemed to be “benefits” we selected the Chevy Suburban. (PS – It’s been a great car)

I am not suggesting this should be used for everything you do in your life. However, I am suggesting you do a FAB Analysis when you are looking to make an important decision. Don't let the company or person selling the product define YOUR benefits. Only you can do that.

I hope that the next time you are faced with a sales rep, some marketing material, or that late night infomercial that you ask yourself the FAB question --- Is this a Feature, Advantage, or a Benefit?

How about you?

  • Do you have a similar way to think about benefits?
  • To separate the Features from Advantages? 
  • To define YOUR Benefits & make an informed decision?

I'd like to hear about it. Comment here or contact me via one of the methods below.


Note: I did not invent this idea. It was presented to me in the mid-90’s while I was attending UC Irvine. I’ve used the FAB Analysis method hundreds, probably thousands, of times since.

clip_image002About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at
Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

** I am available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. My areas of emphasis are business development and alliance management at the Intersection of Enterprise Content Management and Social Media.

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