All-in-One Guide to Spin Selling [History included]
Did you know 66% of B2B customers expect solutions over the pitch from sales reps?
Yep, that's what a study by Salesforce says. And, there’s more.
The same study also says that B2B customers expect sales reps to have a broad understanding of their business and its needs.
So, if your traditional sales techniques don’t cover the above demands, it’s time to switch methods. Check out this 35-year-old sales method called SPIN selling.
Read ahead to know more. It’s all about becoming the “advisor” of your potential customer. And, the techniques boil down to one thing–asking the right question.
Spin Selling | All You Need to Know
It’s a famous, industry-approved sales strategy from Neil Rackham's book Spin Selling. This strategy focuses on salespeople asking questions in a particular (SPIN) questioning sequence to develop an “advisor” image in the prospect’s eyes.
Neil Rackham, the great salesperson and writer felt traditional sales methods weren’t capable of adapting to the fast-changing market, especially when it came to large-scale sales. This is why, to counter the existing methods and come up with new ones, he began extensive research with his team.
At that point in his career, Rackham was working at Huthwaite Inc. He and his team spent 10 years analyzing over 35,000 sales transactions before coming up with the S-P-I-N method.
They studied 116 factors that impact sales performance while conducting research on effective selling in 27 countries. In the book, Neil Rackham repeatedly emphasized the importance of playing the “advisor” role by the salespeople to achieve sales success.
Today, even after 35 years, it’s one of the highly used methods in large-scale sales. The majority of big companies use S-P-I-N selling to date.
Why is it IMPORTANT?
It’s 2023, and the ‘prospect’ is independent like never before. Prospects have got all the information they need at their fingertips, and nobody can push them toward sales. This is where the SPIN selling technique comes in.
Fellow marketers, so what if you can’t push them towards making a decision? It was never the right selling process, anyway.
You can always INFLUENCE your prospect’s sales decision. And, what’s the best way other than becoming the “advisor” for the decision makers?
Educate your prospect. Provide the material they need to expand their understanding of their business and its problems. (Isn’t it the same reason why inbound marketing works?)
Be the advisor while they make business decisions on relevant issues/fields. And, sooner or later, they are going to convert into one of your customers.
How does SPIN Selling Work?
According to the book by Mr. Rackham, all successful sales calls or meetings have four stages:
- Demonstrating capabilities
- Obtaining commitment
The SPIN methodology is implemented in the “investigating” stage. It consists of various types of sales questions:
- Situational questions
- Problem questions
- Implication questions
- Need-payoff questions
There’s no order mentioned in the book on which type of question to be asked and when. You can go in the below order if you want.
Let’s get started.
At the beginning of a sales call or meeting, salespeople tend to ask a few situation questions (who, what, how, when) to learn more about the prospects.
Those questions are called situational questions.
👉Data gathering: You have obviously done your research but how to crosscheck them? The best method is to ask open-ended questions about the prospect’s situation. Ask the who, what, when, and how questions in this stage.
👉Build a rapport: Before the first meeting or call, you are literally a stranger to your potential customer and why should they trust you?
A salesperson can use situation questions to find a way of learning more about the prospect and find a way of introducing themselves and their products.
👉Show eagerness: Situational questions are the perfect way to let the prospect know that you are genuinely interested to learn about them. And, you are there to help.
👉Understanding the context: Gathering information about a business is one thing, and understanding what’s really happening is another thing. You can ask generic questions about the prospect’s business or current situation to understand what’s really going on.
- Who are you selling to?
- What does your customer base’s buying cycle look like?
- What’s your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) look like?
- What is your current value point?
- How long have you been using a so-and-so product?
- What does your so-and-so strategy look like?
- How do you feel about your current sales system?
- How was last year’s ROI?
- How many employees do you have?
- How’s your website performing currently?
Additional Tip: DON'T ASK TOO MANY SITUATION QUESTIONS. By asking these questions too much, you might accidentally end up irritating the prospect. Treat these questions as a conversation starter, not a sales closing technique. Ask questions that can potentially lead the conversation toward closing the sales.
Once salespeople have a basic idea about the prospect’s current scenario, then experts move on to find out the prospect’s problems.
In this stage, expert salespeople go from asking generic to specific questions about ICP, customer interaction, customer needs, sales process, website performance, tools they use, etc. These questions are called problem questions in the SPIN model.
👉Explore the prospect’s painful areas: No matter how much homework you do before the sales call/meeting, you will never be able to find out the current issues your prospect is facing daily.
Take this stage as an opportunity to do that. Ask all the questions that you think are potential pain points of your customer. Sometimes, there is more than one pain point that a product can provide a current solution too. So, exploring the prospect’s painful areas is a critical step in sales.
👉Find Pain Point: As I said above, a B2B customer might be facing multiple problems in their businesses. Even though it’s good to learn about all of them, your goal, as a salesperson, is to find out the pain point your product can solve.
👉Make the customer talk about pain points: Most good salespeople already know about the problems their potential customers face but that knowledge doesn’t lead to sales. Therefore, in this stage of your sales conversations, you must ask questions that will make the customers talk about their pain points.
- Are you worried about the quality of your current cold emailing tool?
- What’s the spam rate in your latest email campaigns?
- Do you have any problems with your sales process?
- Do you face any issues reaching your customers?
- Do your customers face any problems communicating with you?
- How much organic traffic do you get every month?
- How’s your LinkedIn profile performing?
After learning about their prospect’s problems, successful salespeople ask questions about the probable effect or consequences of their problems.
For instance, if you have learned that your prospect’s pain point is their high spam rate in email campaigns, you ask something like:
What effect does such a high spam rate have on your lead-generation process?
👉Get into details about the problems: After learning the problem (that you might have a solution for), ask questions that will help the conversation to go deeper into it. Your aim is to learn anything and everything about the problem so that you can find a thread and start selling your product.
👉Learn what causes the problem: Ask questions about what causes the problem. You can go with questions like:
You: What do you think is increasing your spam rate every month?
Prospect: Probably, our image-based content
Now, you carry the conversation forward and suggest a solution that will prevent the whole issue from happening again.
👉Learn the effects of the problem: Sometimes, your product might be helpful in the effects. Learning the effects of the problem will provide more ground to pitch your product to the customer.
👉Explain how BIG the problem actually is: After learning the cause & effect of the problem and all the necessary bits, it’s your turn to share your knowledge on it.
Remember, the whole point of the SPIN technique is the salesperson coming out as an advisor to the prospect. You might tell them about the potential risks of continuing with the problems.
- How will a 4% bounce rate your numbers?
- How does manually following up affect your future sales?
- What effect does a late response have on your customer review?
- Has a problem with customer interaction ever negatively impacted your KPIs?
- How are manual follow-ups impacting your sales team?
- How is cold calling impacting your sales reps?
After learning about the PROBLEM (and its cause & effects) in detail, ask the prospect what a solution looks like.
You can go with questions like:
What does your growth look like with a 50% increase in email open rate?
👉Find out what SOLUTION looks like to them: After learning about a prospect’s pain point, expert salespeople try learning what a solution looks like to them.
For instance, if they are facing problems with customer interaction, your job is to find out what solution they think will help. Is it by installing software or expanding their customer support team?
The point is to find out what they think so that you can suggest your product.
👉Find out what FEATURES they’re expecting: Now, the solution may be the varying brand to brand, and your product is no different. A brilliant salesperson will always learn what benefits or features they are expecting from the product/service.
👉Find out what IDEAL price looks to them:
One of the most important sales goals is to learn what IDEAL price means to them. Is their price higher or lower than the one you are going to offer?
This bit of information will help you pitch your product at the perfect price that will not intimidate them in any way.
- Can a list-building tool help increase your audience?
- Would you find value in cold email marketing?
- Would it be useful to speed up the manufacturing process by 5 percent?
- How would your marketing teams react to using an AI-based tool?
- Would it be useful to introduce cold calling to your marketing committee?
Neither cold calling nor emailing is dead–if you know what questions to ask. In 2023, the best time to be in B2B business. There are solopreneurs, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and many other types of businesses booming every month. All you need to do is ask the right questions.
If you still find SPIN questions confusing, take a look at this video.
Keep calm🖐️ and do s-p-i-n selling. See you in the next article!
What does spin mean in selling?
Spin selling is a selling method that includes asking various types of questions to prospects about their business, its issues, and solutions. The goal of these sales techniques is to develop an “advisor” image of the sales rep in the eyes of the prospect.
Is spin selling still relevant?
Yes, S-P-I-N selling is very much relevant. Very much inbound and outbound lead generation, this sales technique includes providing value to the prospects so that they can make informed decisions. The spin selling method is primarily meant for major sales, and it isn’t suitable for small businesses.
Rajnish is a Staff Writer at Smartlead.