An oldie but definitely still a goodie, this traditional SPIN Selling method can help you earn more clients in no time! Read on to find out more about it.
In this article:
- What Is SPIN Selling?
- SPIN Selling Background
- SPIN Selling Training Tips
- Reasons Why the SPIN Sales Technique Works
- Is Asking SPIN Selling Questions Dead?
- How to Utilize the SPIN Selling Technique in Today’s Sales Landscape
SPIN Selling | A Good Way to Earn Clients
What Is SPIN Selling?
There are millions of hacks, tips, theories, and experiments that have been carried out in the sales process. SPIN selling is one of the older selling techniques that are still prevalent in this modern digital era because salespeople still find it very effective.
SPIN selling involves keeping the clients engaged by asking them different types of questions and understanding their needs instead of going on about the thing you are selling. This sales methodology works because you are not selling a product or service — you are selling a solution to their problems.
It works because it taps into the basic nature of human beings — that need to express themselves and their needs before being asked for something. It stands at the core of a consultative selling process.
The SPIN selling model works because many people look for products or services as a solution to a certain problem they have.
By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to offer the best possible solution to your client’s needs. Successful salespeople use the SPIN selling process to gain the trust of their prospects enough to close a deal.
SPIN Selling Background
The author of the book SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham, came up with the method. He wrote about the proven benefits of having meaningful SPIN selling conversations with your customer or buyer to sell them your products or services.
In his SPIN selling book, he divided a conversation into four phases and gave it the name “SPIN.”
SPIN is an acronym derived from the following:
- Situational question
- Problem question
- Implication question
- Need or payoff question
Let’s break down each section of this sales strategy and how they can lead to a closed deal with a grateful customer.
1. Situational Question
This is the introductory part of the SPIN methodology. Sales reps will ask generalized questions looking for a cue to jump on to.
Every question that falls under this phase will be related to the salesman’s product but will not reference it directly.
The following are examples of situational questions:
- How do you automate things in your sales cycle?
- What is the procedure you follow for prospecting?
- How do you track your customer’s interest and engagement?
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2. Problem Question
The salesperson will ask the prospect about the problem they face due to their current situation. This will lead to the prospect or potential client being more comfortable with the salesperson, resulting in a healthier conversation.
Examples of questions are as follows:
- Is it expensive for you to use different premium tools for small tasks?
- Do you feel that a few processes in your company can get faster?
- What challenges do you face during your current plan for this tool?
When a salesperson asks the right questions, potential clients tend to feel more at ease to share the situation they’re currently facing. If they discuss the challenges they have in achieving success, sales professionals can get a better idea of what solution to offer them to reach their goals.
3. Implication Question
In the implication stage, the salesperson asks a few hypothetical questions. These questions imply that their prospect’s problems can be solved using their product or service.
However, there is a thin line between asking them an implied question masquerading as a solution and insulting their current methods of getting things done.
Be sensitive to your client’s plight. Don’t just assume that the product or service you’re offering will dramatically increase their productivity right away.
SPIN selling questions can help you understand their situation, but it does not allow you to jump the gun in offering your product or service as a solution.
Examples of questions to ask are as follows:
- If you fail to put the data into the sheets, what would happen?
- How much time or money is this going to take from you to fix it if you’re unable to do this?
- If once you stop manually connecting it, how much will it affect your daily revenue?
4. Need or Payoff Question
The last part of the method is to try to resolve the client’s need and ask them to buy the product. This is the most important part of the SPIN selling methodology as it determines whether the prospect is interested in the idea or not.
If you genuinely listened to your potential client’s situation, you won’t have to extensively explain your product. They’ll be pointing out the benefits they can get if they purchase your product. You’ll be able to close a sale and establish a genuine relationship with your customer.
Example questions can be the following:
- What if you could cut down on time spent on a process through automation?
- Would you like to have a look at the possibilities you can achieve if you use the right tool?
- Why don’t you give it a try?
- What’s stopping you from having a free trial and testing if we are able to solve all your problems or not?
SPIN Selling Training Tips
If you’re planning to use the SPIN selling technique as your sales methodology, some ground rules to keep in mind include:
- Use this technique when your clients have yet to fully understand the problem they’re facing. If you can help them realize the pain points and offer them a solution, then you won’t have a problem building a lasting relationship with them.
- Listen carefully to your client’s answers. This is the only way to present them with a solution that will address their problems effectively.
- What works for one customer may not effectively solve the problem of another. Though they may have similar general issues, the specifics of each client may differ depending on the situation they’re currently facing.
- Research is the key! Don’t jump in without knowing anything and instead, make sure you ask questions relevant to your client’s problem.
- Be aware of time limits. Talking about problems and possible solutions may go on for hours if unchecked but be wary of the time you spend in sales discussions.
- Prepare for your customers to ask their own questions. Because the Internet is more accessible now, people tend to do their own research ahead of scheduled sales calls.
- Ask questions to keep the conversation going for you to get more information, and don’t just check off questions like a checklist. Remember, every customer has different needs.
- SPIN selling is just the first step to fixing your client’s problem areas. If they won’t use your product or service properly, then the solution they want won’t be achieved.
- SPIN selling is just a methodology, not the sales bible. In some cases, the SPIN selling model may not be the best strategy to use for closing a deal.
Reasons Why the SPIN Sales Technique Works
The SPIN Selling technique works because of many factors. One of these is because it focuses on the customer.
Any successful sales deal starts with a productive conversation between a salesperson and a prospect. With any sales conversation, the prospect must talk more than the salesperson.
This is achieved using the SPIN Selling technique since it revolves around the salesperson asking questions. In this scenario, the prospect is encouraged to speak because he or she has to provide answers.
Another reason why this technique works is its flexibility. While there are general guidelines for what types of questions to ask, there’s still room for the salesperson to adjust depending on how the conversation is going.
Is Asking SPIN Selling Questions Dead?
The impact of SPIN selling on the sales industry may be huge, but some are questioning whether it’s still relevant these days. This is especially true for those who prefer Social Selling over the SPIN Selling technique.
Some sales professionals, including Rackham, don’t think you should discount it just yet. It may have been created in 1988, but they believe all it needs is to be taken into the future and made relevant for the current sales industry.
Despite being the ultimate guide on how to close a sale via telephone, SPIN selling is still relevant in the digital era. The principles of SPIN selling can transfer to email, article, copy, ads and other online resources.
Staying ahead of the crowd in an online world means standing out. Research means you can build a picture about your prospect and the Situation and Problem stages become easy. Standing out with the right question informs your customer that you understand their needs and have paid attention to their problems, which should put you in a great position to build a good relationship.
Rackham tells us that the three ways to describe your offerings are: –
The FAB structure is a clear rule which focuses on the characteristics of your product in the context of the customer’s needs.
How to Utilize the SPIN Selling Technique in Today’s Sales Landscape
During the 2016 Association of Professional Sales (APS) conference in London, Rackham showed delegates how to update the SPIN technique for the modern sales environment.
These days, prospects are more hesitant now about answering situational questions. People aren’t really interested in providing answers to questions about them that the rep could’ve researched beforehand.
When it comes to situational questions, the original guidelines of SPIN selling still stand — avoid asking questions from the prospect for the sake of filling out a form or ticking items off a checklist. If you need to ask situational questions, just ask them the essentials, and don’t overload the prospect with questions that are not necessary.
Originally, these questions helped the rep find an opportunity to position what they’re selling as a solution to the prospect’s problem. These days, it’s all about anticipating what obstacles the prospect could face in the future — something they haven’t even considered yet.
According to Rackham, this is a question most top-performing reps ask more compared to their peers. By asking implication questions, the rep is forcing the prospect to think about the kinds of situations they’ll face if they don’t solve their problem.
Reps can also combine this with the prospect’s newly-considered potential obstacles that came about when they answered problem questions. This is where the rep can take advantage and try to push the prospect’s decision-making process in their favor.
Once the prospect has considered the potential obstacles they’ll face, this is where the rep can highlight the value their offered solution can bring. However, this has been updated since the rep has now introduced unforeseen obstacles.
Rather than cater to their previous needs, the rep must also be able to show the prospect how they can cater to the newly-anticipated needs of the prospect.
The SPIN selling technique can be the most effective way of earning clients if you know and understand the entire process. When it comes to major sales and solution selling, every day can be a new challenge.
Here are a few stats that show exactly why SPIN selling is so important:
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic about SPIN selling for reference:
The best conversations revolve around a client’s needs and the solution to their problems, instead of touting a product’s benefits. Being a consultant and not a salesperson will help you gain a prospect’s trust and turn them into a customer down the line for sales success.
Need more visuals? The video below would also help you understand what SPIN selling is:
Have you tried SPIN selling? Which phase is more challenging for you? Let us know in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 11, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.