Can you recall a time when your customer gave you a cold response, even though you demonstrated a feature perfectly? You customized your demo environment well, exhibited high levels of energy, and even followed your favourite FAB technique. You ensured that you talked about the 'Feature’ first, followed by its 'Advantage' and the 'Benefit', and yet all you could get from the customer was a reluctant nod. What could have gone wrong?
Most likely the feature wasn't relevant for the customer.
How do you avoid this situation? Of course, a pre-demo discovery can help you uncover pain points, enabling you to focus only on relevant features. However, sometimes we are not privileged to get a discovery in the first place (Yes, we can all cross our hearts and say who the culprit is!). Even if you are lucky to get a discovery call, you may not know everything in advance. Should you still stick to your FAB technique? I would argue that it is likely to fail.
I recommend a different 3-step approach that is much more effective and less risky. I call it the IVR approach that flips FAB slightly on its head, by showing the feature at the end.
How it works:
- (I) Introduce the problem: Rather than introducing a feature (as in FAB), I recommend that you first introduce a problem that is likely to exist in the customer's industry or environment. It is an effective way to grab customer’s attention by making them aware of a problem experienced by businesses similar to theirs.
- (V) Verify the pain: After introducing the problem, you should verify if your customer experiences similar pain. If you get an acknowledgment (and they might even give you more info!), you can confidently continue with your pitch. However, if they don’t, it allows you to take an exit route, avoiding the need to demo the feature. You can save so much time by taking such exit routes during your demo, showing only the relevant features. This is starkly different compared to the FAB approach, where you can only find the relevance of the feature after demonstrating it.
- (R) Resolve the pain: After you have struck a chord with your customer and empathized, you should then demonstrate your feature resolving their pain. It is a much more effective technique since you have already delivered the implicit value by getting them to acknowledge their pain even before you showed them your product feature.
Let’s apply the IVR approach by taking an example of a feature:
Collaborative chat feature for cross-functional teams
You can clearly see the impact of the value delivered in step 3.
Now, imagine if instead of acknowledging the pain the customer replied - “Our cross-functional teams don't talk much, as they have direct access to all the necessary information systems”.
With the IVR approach, you can easily take the exit route at step 2, saving so much time. However, with FAB, you could have only known this after demonstrating the feature. Worse, sometimes the customer doesn’t even tell you if the feature was relevant for them, keeping you in the dark!
IVR is a much better demo approach as it is more engaging and personal that allows the customer to share their side of the story. This also allows you to have instant and valuable feedback, confirming the relevance of the feature at the same time. Next time, try this approach and see if it works for you.
Good luck with your demos!
Akshay is a presales leader, experienced in building & leading successful teams in fast-paced and high-growth organizations. With over 12 years of experience in B2B technology sales, he has worked closely with sales leadership to drive high revenue growth. A technophile by heart, he has a penchant for progressive thinking. He has driven several initiatives for process excellence leading to efficient sales cycle; improved discovery and demos; and better-trained presales & sales teams.
Outside Work, Akshay is a proud father of two, an avid runner, and loves to read books on leadership and technology.