Salespeople are commonly told to sell “solutions” and “value” rather than just product features. But when the time comes to present their products, they fall back on generic scripts with no direct connection to any specific needs the customer has revealed. The customer winds up in a one-sided conversation, listening to the salesperson present too many low-priority capabilities.
What salespeople lack is a structure for presenting products in a way that ties features and benefits directly to the customer’s expressed needs.
Lack of structure in a presentation is a prescription for lack of perceived value.
There is such a structure—Action Selling’s TFBR method (for Tie-Back, Feature, Benefit, Reaction). It lets you create sales presentations that communicate a compelling reason to move forward by connecting product features to actual needs the customer has already agreed upon. In other words, TFBR provides the answer to, “How do I sell solutions?”
Solution: To present your product as a solution, tie a specific need the customer has expressed to a feature of your product. Tie-Back by restating the need, then describe the corresponding Feature.
Value: Demonstrate the feature’s value to the customer by explaining its Benefit, again in terms of the customer’s expressed need.
Confirm: Cement together the solution and value by asking for the customer’s Reaction. This tells you if what you have presented is, indeed, perceived as a valuable solution.
Here is an example:
Tie-Back: “You said you were dissatisfied with the unnatural light of your fiber-optic unit. ”
Feature: “Our Model 2000 uses a color-correcting system that delivers perfectly white light. ”
Benefit: “This improves the visual sharpness and reduces eye strain and fatigue. "
Reaction: “How would a sharper image help with your work?”
When you structure your presentation using the TFBR format for each product feature you discuss, you have a self-correcting method to ensure that what you are presenting is a valuable solution that hits all the right targets.
In The Field:
The TFBR method becomes even more powerful when salespeople get product training and marketing support designed to reinforce it. After introducing his sales team to the Action Selling process, Gerry Giorgio, regional manager with Vaughn Seed a Division of Sandoz Nutrition, decided to take product training and marketing to a higher level.
“We trained our marketing staff in Action Selling sales training as well, ” Giorgio said. “Now we have successfully integrated our sales skills training with product training—and marketing develops presentation pieces using the Action Selling TFBR procedure. You know it’s working when customers go out of their way to comment on how thorough your salespeople are with their presentation of your product solution. ”
Duane Sparks is chairman and founder of The Sales Board, a Minneapolis-based sales training company that has trained and certified more than 200,000 salespeople in the system and skills of Action Selling. He has personally facilitated more than 300 Action Selling training sessions.
In a 30-year career as a salesperson and sales manager, Duane has sold products ranging from office equipment to insurance. He was the top salesperson at every company he ever worked for. He developed Action Selling Sales Training while owner of one of the largest computer marketers in the United States. Even in the roaring computer business of the 1980's, his company grew six times faster than the industry norm, differentiating itself not by the products offered but by the way it sold them. Duane founded The Sales Board in 1990 to teach the skills of Action Selling to others.
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