The Three Letter Approach to Proposals and Presentations

Three letters.

That is all that I needed to hear. Three simple letters. F-A-B. Short for Fabulous? Not exactly. But the results gained from this simple formula for writing or presenting certainly do produce fabulous results. When I first heard the F-A-B formula, I was immediately hypnotized by the potential of following a simple formula for sales and writing success. And after nearly eleven years, I am still happy hypnotized!

So what does F-A-B stand for and how does it work?

Simple. Yet wonderfully powerful.


Let me explain in under 900 words.

Whatever you sell or are selling now, your product or service solves a problem. Whether the problem is known and obvious or takes some digging to uncover, your product’s intention is to solve something. The problem can be as simple as preventing pimples or as complex as the problems faced by a failing company whose key indicators all point towards bankruptcy. No matter the problem, your product or service was created to solve it.

So, let’s assume that you have identified the problem and your prospect is aware of the problem and accepts it as a problem. No what? How can you position your product/service in a way that the prospect sees your product as the solution? Simple, actually. Follow the formula of F-A-B.

Here’s how.

Your product/service has to have at least one FEATURE. Most likely, it has numerous features, but you need only discuss the features that address the customer’s unique position. Their unique problem. If, for example, the customer’s problem (hereafter referred to as a “challenge,”) is poor results from their advertising campaign, your product/service’s feature better be something that directly addresses their challenge. Think long and hard about the customer’s challenge before mentioning anything your product/service features. If you start rambling on about all the features of your product/service, the customer will tune out long before you have a chance to mention the feature he/she is dying for.

If your product/service does not have a feature the customer needs, then you won’t make a sale. Move on to either another prospect or another product/service. I can’t stress this point enough, and certainly not in the space of only 1,000 words. The best sales professionals in the world are the ones who can best match their products directly to the prospects challenge. This skill can take years to acquire, or it can only take a moment of enlightenment. Whichever the case, without the right product/service that solves a customer’s recognized problem, there will be no sales!

The next step in the formula is the ADVANTAGE the customer will gain by using your product/service. Whether the advantage will be an advantage over their competition or an advantage over their current way of doing business, you need to detail the direct advantage gained from partnering with you.

But this point is not where sales are made or lost. Most sales professionals are good at matching their product’s features to a customer and are strong at showing the benefits, but then stop and leave the most important step up to the creative mind of their prospect. Don’t stop here! There is only one more step.

Assuming that you have the right product/service for a recognized challenge, and that they understand the advantages that your product/service affords them, the next key to the formula is the BENEFIT. Precisely, how will your prospect benefit from your product/service. The key here is to tie your benefits directly to the customer’s challenge. Don’t assume that the customer will make the connection by themselves. Draw it out, verbally or visually, until you are certain the customer understands the direct benefit of using your product/service. If they understand their challenge, and that you have a solution to their problem, but don’t see the benefit from using your product/service, you will not make a sale.

Here is an example.

A customer has a challenge of weak profits on her sales of widgets. You show them how your advertising service has a feature that directly addresses building greater profit in the sales that result from effective advertising. (You, again, need to be certain that your product/service’s feature(s) directly addresses their recognized challenge.) You then show them how effective advertising with your services can increase their public awareness, eradicate any uncertainty about what their widgets do, as well as any other advantages that are associated with your service. And finally, and most importantly, you show her all the benefits associated with using your service. Increased profits from each sale; increased revenue from increased sales; strength of position over her competitors; the security that comes with a healthy bottom line; greater ability to diversify their product line; potential of selling her company to a larger company; etc, etc….

There is a point when you are going over board with benefits but that point is often much further than most sales professional go to. Get creative with your benefits. (Making sure that they are all based on reality.) Remembering always that customers buy off emotion, then justify with logic. Get them emotionally involved with your service by showing them all the benefits they can enjoy by using your product/service.

F-A-B. A simple to remember formula to drastically increase your sales and revenues. Though it is easy to remember and to use, it takes a lot of practice to truly master. My suggestion is that after you designed your letter, proposal, or presentation, you go through and identify the Features, advantages, and benefits while making sure that each part directly addresses your customer’s challenge.

Well, the word counter indicates that I am close to 900 words, so I will end with this final statement: Without features, you have no product/service to sell. Without advantages, there are no reasons why the customer should choose you over anything or anyone else in your market space. And without benefits, there is no emotional leverage. And without emotional leverage, your chances for success are greatly diminished.

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