One of the best consultative selling methods recommended by top sales experts is SPIN selling, which is based on a book by Neil Rackham. The questions are designed to get rid of those dodgy sales tactics where your sales team shows up and throws up, and by doing so it shifts the focus to the customer by simply asking them questions.
An old proverb or quote we all know, is “Talk to a man about himself and he’ll listen to you for hours”. This quote goes perfectly with the other saying “We have two ears and only one mouth; If you simply ask your customer will tell you exactly what their problems are”.
The SPIN selling framework and associated questions are all about getting the prospect to tell you how solving the issue will impact their business and what benefit or financial gain will occur as a result.
By having them tell you exactly what they need, the customer essentially closes the deal for you. Awesome, hey? The problem is most people are too busy thinking of how to jump in and share the good news of their wonderful customer service or how great their product is, that they never bother to have the customer share what that benefit means to them.
SPIN is an acronym that stands for Situation Problem Implication and Need payoff.
To determine the situation your current prospect is in, you conduct basic fact-finding questions about the prospects business. You will want to have some research done in advance so that you’re not asking questions that you can easily find on their website, of course.
Let’s say you are selling your Accounting software product to your prospect. Asking a series of situation questions around software and possibly workflows, helps to start the conversation and build rapport with the prospect.
Some example situation questions include;
- What software do you currently use?
- How many customers do you have?
- How does data flow through your current system?
This is a good place to start, but don’t ask too many situation questions since most people expect that you’ve done some advanced research on their company prior to the call.
Problem questions helped to uncover pain points and areas of dissatisfaction the prospect has with their current situation. That’s an ideal set of knowledge to have available to you, and the person will readily give it up. If your prospect is the one to communicate that a problem exists, they can begin to open up to have a further discussion to see if you might possibly be able to help them out.
Example problem questions include;
- Do you have duplicate entries between different systems?
- What limitations exist in the automation of transaction processing?
- What areas of your existing software are underutilized?
After getting the problems identified, you can then dig deeper into each problem, asking the who where when what and how. These are all good questions to discover more detail, and help flesh out how you can solve these issues for the customer. By understanding if or when something happens, it can also help pinpoint the issues. These questions help to show that you’re genuinely interested and focused on knowing more about the issues that your prospect is dealing with.
It’s at this point after hearing the problems, that most salespeople dive right into selling their solutions to show that they can solve the problem. However, by asking implication questions like this, the prospect is the one who will verbalize the measurable effects that the problem is causing for their business.
This is the true value of the spin selling framework, right here. By having your prospect express these facts, the prospect really starts to internalize the true negative impact they face.
Some example implication questions could be;
- If inaccurate data is entered what impact could this have during processing?
- If data is not transferred between systems, what impact will that have for you?
- If you don’t have accurate data in the system, what is the result for reporting?
If you’re able to share case examples of how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients, this will also help the customer realize just how relevant your experiences to their exact issue. Also by connecting their situation with real-life examples of negative results, which came from clients ignoring these issues.
This can help them understand that they have a real need for what you offer.
Finally, need payoff questions are really the most important key to the sales closing process.
If your prospective customer can share with you what it would mean for their business in specific and measurable terms, once the current issue is solved, they are basically selling you the benefits of having your solution. It’s also important to frame the positive results that they would get by having your solution in place.
Examples of neat payoff questions are;
- If you could cut the amount of time spent and duplicate entry what impact would it have?
- Why is being able to consolidate systems important to you?
- If you could have accurate data in auto-generated reports. How would that affect your business?
Lastly, something not covered in this process but a very effective way to make sure you understand what your prospect really needs, is prior to sharing your solution just simply ask the customer the following question;
How do you envision our solution being able to help you?
The answer here is typically the exact thing you need to understand about what the prospect really needs to help close the sale. It’s also a great way to kick off the meeting to be sure you go down the right path from the very start.
Having someone familiar with the SPIN selling process, and adding marketing automation, can literally turn a failing sales team into a successful group of solid sales reps overnight.
All the best of luck adopting SPIN selling within your sales team and growing your business!