FAB Selling is Dead and Sales People Need to Work Smarter

With both the public and commercial sectors facing an ongoing lack of confidence and cutbacks in spending budgets, and competition becoming more aggressive every day, sales people are operating in an environment that is more challenging than ever before.

As a result of these external pressures, senior decision-making executives are making the sales process much more difficult and time-consuming for B2B sales professionals.

Buying decisions are being commoditised and bought on price…or they are being viewed as strategic decisions and being made at a much more senior level, regardless of the size of business.

If sales people are to win strategic and profitable business, they need to sell more proactively and at a more senior level. But senior people don’t want to be sold products. They want a proactive consultative sale that delivers real business value, return on investment and quick payback in terms of cash flow.

“…sales people need to adapt their sales techniques and
evolve their selling skills…”

Consequently, traditional sales techniques, such as Feature Advantage Benefit (FAB) selling, are dead. Traditional sales people need to adapt their sales techniques and evolve their selling skills in the process. Consultative selling is the only way forward, even for small businesses.

However, senior buyers are even less accessible these days because they are trying to succeed in a much more complex world and there’s a lot of sales people out there trying to steal their time to ask them meaningless questions or tell them about their latest great product.

People in a B2B sales role in today’s world will need to be much smarter if they’re going to succeed. If they can’t be smarter, they need to work smarter. They need to stop using outdated, traditional sales techniques such as FAB selling. They need to develop practical and repeatable selling tools and consultative sales techniques – whether they are selling products, services, or a complex mix of both.

Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase

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8 thoughts on “FAB Selling is Dead and Sales People Need to Work Smarter”

  1. This article is very true. I am with an organisation that sells to the public sector. Previously our customers showed interest in the features and advantages of a product or service but were more persuaded by the real benefits (value). I always hear ‘it comes down to bottom line’ but sales people need a great deal of special selling skills before they reach the critical point where ‘bottom line’ is considered.

    Buyers are individuals who are switched on by different selling approaches. The processes in the sales world are changing on an exponential curve. Buyers increasingly have less time to take in the ‘free lunch’ – it is much better to take along a solution to their problem. In my organisation I believe that sales training for some of our non-sales roles would improve productivity. Sometimes I hear of ‘product experts’ who regularly meet clients, but miss the selling opportunity because they rely on a set talk that does not hit the mark. In these cases negative attitudes are formed resulting in a relationship being lost for a long time. Instead the expert should be trained to seize the selling chance by listening, thinking and adapting their approach.

  2. Pete, you’d be amazed by how many people we have come to us saying ‘I’m not actually in sales but I need to grow the business’. Whether it’s called business development or client acquisition, a sound underlying methodology for consultative selling offers transformational results.

    Many thanks for the feedback.

  3. The article is absolutely correct. I believe that the FAB approach to selling is ‘dead in the water’ and those in sales that still follow this route will die with it!

    Currently the public sector and large parts of the private sector are wholly focussed on best price. Sales teams need to offer real business value and I believe that the consultative sales approach is clearly the way forward for them to be successful. In my company, the sales team are striving to add business value as we move away from price being the only factor and begin to reap the rewards for this consultative sales model approach. The team themselves have flourished and enjoy this more engaging and interesting approach to their business meetings.

  4. I totally agree however, as you said, the strategic level decision makers are more difficult to get hold of so you need to get them interested in your proposition very quickly so that you can then sell to them in a consultative way.

  5. Richard, agreed, that’s the challenge in a nutshell and the reason for calling has to be compelling enough for the gatekeeper to put you through.

    There are two sales involved: 1. Selling the call with the decision maker to the gatekeeper; and 2. Selling the proposition to the decison maker.

  6. I agree with both the article and the comments above. No matter who you are in the company, you are involved in creating a positive relationship with the customer. The more accommodating and pleasant your employees are the easier a time your sales department have for selling.

    1. Hi Iesha, thanks for the comment. I believe that creating a positive relationship is all about understanding the customer’s world (i.e. the external pressures and internal pain points that their organisation is facing).

      This helps draw out the customer’s needs and desires, which can then be aligned with your solutions. It also demonstrates a desire to improve the buyer’s situation. And yes, I agree – being accommodating and pleasant does help!

  7. I still believe in positive people produce the best performance and will always produce perfect results.

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