Two months ago, my column in this magazine discussed the use of Tie-Down Questions during the sales process asked for feedback. In this column I'll share what I learned from you all.
To quickly remind you of the Tie-Down Questions column: If not handled correctly this method can cause some problems for the salesperson. That column came about because of an encounter during a past sales training presentation I conducted. The salesperson shared that before giving a price, he uses several tie-down questions and then tries to isolate price as the only reason not to move forward. He demonstrated the technique by saying things like: "You appeared to like this feature of my product, isn’t that correct?" "You mentioned this color would look great on that wall, right?" After using a few tie-down questions when reiterating something the homeowner liked about his product or service, he would then say: “Other than price, is there any reason you would not move forward with us doing this project?” When done in that manner, the tie-down technique felt manipulative to me.
I received several replies to my request for opinions on this from readers, with most agreeing with my position, one steadfastly disagreeing and another singing the praises of tie-down questions, but only if used correctly (I can certainly agree with this one). Tie-down questions can help both the salesperson and the customer realize the product and service being presented does fill the needs of the customer. However, they must be used sparingly and carefully woven into the presentation and not shot out in rapid-fire sequence like the salesperson referenced in the above story.
Early in my sales career, I was taught a method for presenting your solution that may be a good alternative for the tie-down question. It’s called the TFBR method and is an acronym for Tie-back-Feature-Benefit-Reaction. It suggests you make a tie-back statement to a customer’s need, then give the feature and benefit of your product or service. When choosing this feature and benefit it should be something that will solve the customer's need and is followed with a question to the customer asking for their reaction to the solution.
At the time I first learned this, it seemed gimmicky and manipulative to me for a tie-back and reaction question to every feature and benefit of my product and service. Sort of like rapid fire tie-down questions and an attempt to isolate price as the only objection ... It was too early in my career to navigate all that.
For that reason, I got in the habit of bundling the tie-back, features and benefits together and asking one reaction question and it seemed to flow much better. For example: (Bundled Tie-Back) – “You mentioned that energy efficiency and operational functionality were the two main concerns with your present window situation.” Then show them the features of your product that help with energy efficiency and functionality. (Bundled Benefit) – “This gives you one of the strongest, easy to operate, and energy efficient windows in this market.” (Bundled Reaction Question) – “This seems like a great window for your situation, doesn’t it?”
A word of warning during the product presentation, don’t inundate the customer with every minute feature of the product. Doing so, could alienate them, causing them to lose interest in what you have to say. Focus on only the features that best solve their issues.
Remember, the Tie-Down Question in the traditional in-home selling model can be useful if used sparingly and carefully woven into the conversation. Avoid coming across as a manipulative salesperson by rapid fire use of tie down questions. The TFBR method discussed here could also be useful. Either way you go, I urge you to give it some thought and tailor the method to your personality and how you communicate. Happy Selling!