Selling is one of the most important aspects of small business. As the old saying goes, no business has survived without sales. And while there are many aspects of sales, such as prospecting, sales forecasting, and time management of the sale process, perhaps one of the most revolutionary ideas in selling is the SPIN selling technique.
What Is SPIN Selling?
SPIN selling is a research-based sales technique devised by Neil Rackham. While developing the technique over 12 years, Rackham analyzed over 35,000 sales calls which focused on high-value sales and extracted common ideas. This led to his main conclusions on what makes a successful sales call. SPIN selling does not focus on classical sales technique such as overcoming objections. Rather, the technique focuses on uncovering the prospect’s main pain points and showing how your product or service can eliminate this pain.
S Is for Situation
This first phase of questioning is about extracting and collecting facts and data about the prospect’s background and situation. The research found that more situation questions were asked in successful sales calls than in failed successful calls. The following is a short list of situation-type questions that can be tailored to your specific product or service:
- What type of widget do you usually buy?
- How often do you buy widgets?
- Where do you buy widgets, and how do you wish it was better?
- How often do you have widgets delivered to your home?
P Is for Problem
After assessing the prospect’s situation, you should begin asking problem questions. These types of questions uncover challenges and difficulties the prospect is facing in regard to the pain point you are attempting to solve with your product or service. While these types of questions are useful in all sales calls, the research found that problem questions are more useful is smaller-sized sales. Example problem questions include:
- Do you have any problems with your current widget machine?
- How often does your widget break?
- When was the last time the price of your widget increased?
I Is for Implication
Implication questions uncover the actual costs of the problems the prospect faces. These types of questions strengthen the case of the salesperson, and if asked right, the prospect does all the work building the case. These types of questions include:
- Has having a widget break at the wrong time cost you anything?
- Have the problems associated with your widget caused problems with your family or business?
- Has a broken widget caused any of your clients or prospects to view you differently?
N Is for Need-Payoff
Need-payoff questions are all about the solution to the pain and the problem. While you may be tempted to explain the situation directly to the prospect, it seems that salespeople are better off asking about how their solution could add value or be useful. The SPIN selling research found that successful sales calls tend to use these types of questions. They are structured in the following way:
- How much time could you save if you used a widget company that did X, Y, and Z?
- Would it be helpful if your new widget could do X in half the time as your current widget?
- How would your staff or prospect view you differently if they knew you used this widget?
It seems the research speaks for itself, as many sales professional now use SPIN selling techniques. You can test out SPIN selling yourself very easily by drafting each category of question and customizing them to your business’s products and services. Track the success rates of sales calls made using SPIN questions versus your current sales techniques.