Helping Your Clients Get to FAB!
By Andrew Chalmers.
As a student in CPC’s Career Development Theory, Models & Practices (CDP-02) course, I had the pleasure of studying the Value Proposition Model. A solid VPM offers a real marketing edge; an advantage that clients can develop and refine, and which will open many employment doors for them.
A chance move brought me into the career development industry. Previously, I was a veteran of retail. Studying the Value Proposition Model reminded me of a selling technique that is well known in retail sales training.
Okay, I got you with the catchy acronym there. I couldn’t resist. FAB stands for the “Features And Benefits” sales theory; a transferable skill that I have used on many occasions when working with clients in my practice.
The FAB sales approach is very simple. A product has a feature; for example, a desk is made from solid wood. Possible benefits of this feature are that the desk looks elegant, is sturdy, will last a long time, etc.
The customer buys the item because of the benefit it offers them. A skilled salesperson will use their active listening skills to gather “cues” about what the customer views as a benefit – or benefits – of the desk. Once those cues are identified, the salesperson will formulate a “benefit statement” (a reason to buy) and present it to the customer.
FAB can just as easily be applied to the interview process.
In an interview, active listening is something that clients should be encouraged to practice. Prepared candidates will base their answers to interview questions on what they “hear” as being the genuine needs of the employer. Their answers will truly only resonate with the interviewer, and be effective, when they do this.
I have conducted many mock interviews where the client has “set” answers that they’ve rehearsed, over and over. Nerves take hold and in the client’s eagerness to reply, they don’t really answer the question being asked. Instead, they respond with their overly rehearsed answer. To the interviewer, this presents as not being genuine, and lacking interest and motivation. When the employer asks for clarification or has to repeat the question, the client’s confidence suffers, perhaps making the rest of the interview difficult and uncomfortable for him or her.
The FAB approach is something that I use when prepping clients for interviews. It is fun and really gives clients a clear idea of how to present themselves. I often ask clients to tell me about the best salesperson they have ever dealt with. They always remember one and this leads to conversations about what that particular salesperson did to impress, what they remembered about the sales transaction, and the eventual reason they bought the item. Through this exercise, they realize – perhaps for the first time – that the reason they bought the item was because of the appealing benefit the salesperson offered to them.
It then becomes crystal clear how they can employ the same strategy to present their benefits to an employer in an interview setting.
For example, in the case of a client seeking a receptionist/administrative assistant role:
FEATURE – The client lives locally.
BENEFIT – The employer can rely on the client to be on time (reliability/dependability being among the top employer “wants” in new hires).
FEATURE – The client has a keyboarding speed of 85 words a minute with 100% accuracy.
BENEFIT – Work will be completed at a very efficient and speedy rate.
You can see how easy it is for a client to re-purpose the FAB retail sales strategy in order to solidify his or her fit for a role in the mind of the interviewer.
Another technique I use to draw out a client’s benefit is that I ask him or her to think of the interview as being an opportunity to debut their very own Super Bowl ad. A Super Bowl ad is short (time is money, just like an interview is for an employer) and promotes the product in a very concise, appealing fashion. I encourage clients to promote themselves in the same way. They are the “must have” product. Everything they say has to present a reason for the employer to hire them.
I find these two approaches to be very helpful and fun as they really engage the client. In a group setting, people start talking about great sales experiences they’ve had or the various memorable ads they’ve seen, and it creates a very lively atmosphere. Through all the examples they bring up, they’re able to readily understand how the strategy works and, more importantly, how it can be applied to ensure their own interview success.
Taking FAB and the concept of the Super Bowl ad one step further, I encourage clients to develop a “marketing strategy and sales pitch” that incorporates the benefits they’ve identified and is customized for the specific job they want to land. In the job hunt (marketing) stage, the client can formulate a résumé that focuses on what they can “offer” as opposed to what they “do.” These offerings can be expanded on in the interview (the sales stage). We all know that a résumé shouldn’t be a list of job duties and tasks. It should explain how the client benefited the previous employer. What positive change did he or she implement? What quantifiable value was delivered?
“Responsible for stocking grocery store shelves.”
Could be stated on the résumé as:
“Demonstrated originality and flair in promoting products through creative shelf-stocking, resulting in 25% increase in sales within a 3-month period.”
The second statement is clearly more compelling and shows a very strong benefit to the employer. Faced with 99 résumés that state the former point and 1 that has the latter, the employer’s hiring decision is made a lot easier. The client has demonstrated proof of a powerful Value Proposition that will appeal to the employer’s “buying motivators” by meeting their desire to:
1) Generate revenue (increase sales, expand market share, augment profit)
2) Save money (enhance efficiency, boost productivity, improve cash flow)
It would be strategic to build on this approach by recommending that the client brand themselves (in the cover letter, initially) as “an employee who can take your business to the next level by using profit-boosting merchandising skills.” Such tag lines are a real boon to clients as they present employers with a Super Bowl ad that instantly grabs attention.
These techniques provide a great foundation for interview success. Having internalized his or her FAB and/or Super Bowl ad stories, clients have the confidence and know-how to switch from marketer to sales professional. Once the client delivers a FAB answer to an interview question and sees that the interviewer is pleased, his or her nerves settle down and the focus becomes purely about “closing the sale.”
Job hunting is selling.
What makes your clients FAB?
What is in their own Super Bowl halftime commercial?
The answers you and clients come up with will build confidence, provide encouragement, and get results.