Between us, there are some crazy guys in love with sales here on the 12min team. We closely follow the changes that the sales industry has undergone in recent decades. In theory, selling is simple, but in an increasingly competitive market and with consumers becoming more informed, adopting a sales methodology can be a differential. Spin Selling by author Neil Rackham is a method that helps you ask the right questions when it comes to selling. When I worked in sales, I remember that my coach always said: You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in the same proportion. This book is essential if you sell to businesses or sell high value-added products, the famous "complex sales" and want to learn how to ask better. Asking yourself better will help you hear your customer better and thus sell more. Have a good time!
To develop the SPIN methodology, Neil created a scientific research that looked at and measured the behaviors of sellers and buyers. He ran the largest study on the subject ever done so far, counting with more than 30 researchers who studied 35,000 sales leads in more than 20 countries. Neil noted that the quality of the salesperson's questions was the key factor in whether the sale was closed or not, and with that huge stack of data Neil and his team analyzed the success map and named it SPIN. SPIN is an acronym that represents the key factors that must be explored in a sale for it to be successful. They are:
S - Situation
P - Problem
I - Implication
N - Need-payoff
Asking the right questions is crucial for a successful sale, but you will not close many deals if you do not adopt a method. Neil's suggestion, of course, is called SPIN Selling.
In sales, the routine of calling dozens of people every day can be exhausting and less than glamorous. Some think you're making loads of money from your fat commissions, but at the end of the day, you work harder than you should and earn less than you need. Traditional sales techniques are poorly assertive, slow and monotonous. The traditional process says that you should open your connection with open-ended questions to understand the interests of the client. Present the benefits of the product that relate to these interests, work the objections and close the sale. Easy isn’t it? The bad news is that this does not work when it comes to big sales and Neil pulled it off. He saw an interesting opportunity in the sales market. He realized that the conventional wisdom in the sales world was that "selling is selling." And so the simpler sales techniques - used in smaller markets and contracts - were replicated in the same way for large, complex sales between companies. That's right. Big fish do not bite the same bait as minnows. To fish for sharks, you have to use the correct bait. Let's assume you sell servers, for example. First, you explain that you work for Dell, describe the features and specifications of your servers and finally try to close the sale, right? Wrong! In the above example, you forgot to investigate your customer, which is where you always get the sale. You need to understand what the customer really needs before attempting to depart for demonstration and closing.
Preliminaries - Events that set the tone and warm the business. Examples of phrases: How are you? How's the weather over there? This phase should be short, always.
Research - Find facts, information, and needs. Examples of sentences/questions: How much growth do you project for next year? How does your management system help you design this growth? That is where the SPIN methodology will teach you how to shine!
Demonstration of capabilities - Show that you can solve the customer’s problem. Avoid going into this phase until the prospect makes explicit that your demonstration will solve the problem. Examples: if the customer says, "It's clear to me that I'm going to need software to help me design my best growth," then you can begin this phase.
Get commitment - Have the seller accept the sale and the next steps of how to proceed. First, you must ensure that you handle all the concerns/needs, then summarize the benefits and ultimately propose the next level of commitment. It is in phase 2 that we will adopt our SPIN methodology. But first, let's talk a little about closing and customer needs.
In smaller sales, especially direct to the end consumer, simple closing techniques can work. Can you take the closing (prefer to receive the product on Monday or Tuesday?), You can use short deadlines or inventories to create urgency (we only have two units or this price is valid until tomorrow only). In complex sales, this kind of approach does not work. In many cases, the customer will react negatively. And when they work in a complex sale, it is possible that the contract has been closed at a much lower value than it could potentially be. The best way to close larger and easier sales is to understand that not all sales have to result in immediate closure or loss. The most important thing about selling is not closing in on itself but helping the prospect figure out what they really need. In complex sales rather than "closing", the important thing is to understand the customer's needs, tie up the small issues that get bigger together and create urgency for a solution. Unlike smaller and simpler sales, in complex sales, these needs arise in different situations. In a company, the buying environment requires reflection and research by the buyer. It involves moving many people in the organization. It involves understanding the explicit needs of the buyer (the needs he knows) and also the implicit ones (the needs he doesn't know). Good salespeople know how to sniff out implicit needs, but making a big sale requires more than being a good listener. And to do this, you must, after identifying an implicit need, turn it into an explicit necessity! An implicit need is a weak signal that a customer wants to buy and it needs to be strengthened. If you can turn implicit signals and then point them out as explicit needs to your potential customer, you'll be able to convince him more easily to buy a solution that solves all the needs that are visible to him. SPIN's strategy is one way to help you achieve this. It helps you ask the right questions at the right time. Ready to SPIN?
To learn about your potential client, you will begin with questions that explore the situation and the problem. Questioning your prospect's situation makes you have an understanding of the larger context, and this helps you to create a relationship in the right way. To develop your authority, you need to know your market, your product and service, and your customer's product and service, so it's essential to do a pre-meeting research and prepare. The questions of the situation lead you to the facts directly. It is vital to ask a lot, but also not to tire your prospect with many questions of the circumstance. Examples of useful situational questions:
What equipment do you use to manage your network?
What is your segment of customers with less satisfaction?
How is the growth of your sales?
Once you have better identified the prospect scenario through the situational questions, now is the time to go to understand your real issues. Then use the questions about problems as they will help you discover the difficulties or dissatisfactions of your potential client. Good problem questions might be, "Are you satisfied with your server vendor?" Or perhaps "Is it not too difficult for you to do this manually nowadays?" Also, remember the implicit needs, you will have to investigate them! Examples of useful problem questions:
Are you satisfied with your current sales process?
What are the main disadvantages you find by not having a software for this?
Do you believe you are losing customers for this?
The implications questions deepen the real consequences of a customer's problems. The reason to make the sale happen starts at this stage. However, most vendors stop the investigation process in the previous two phases. Your prospect may be blind to the impacts and consequences of their problems, and their job is to highlight them, bringing to the conversation the consequences of these problems that your client may not have considered, such as overtime costs, etc. The idea of each implication is to make the problem even bigger and, if done correctly, the implication questions will accelerate the closing. Examples of good implications questions:
What are the effects of this problem on your billing?
How many customers will you lose next year if it stays that way?
What happens if we do not solve this until December?
In the final stage of SPIN, the objective is to make the prospect realize the value and urgency of solving the identified problem. You need to ensure that the buyer recognizes the product's benefits to the problem. You need to be able to ask how he intends to solve his company's problem and you can also make the prospect imagine what the future would look like if that problem disappeared. If everything has happened as planned and you have drawn up a good plan, your client should see your proposal not only as an effective but also the most obvious solution! In the problem-solving phase, you have to focus the problem and move on to the solution. For this, it is necessary to create a positive tone, to have good intonation and motivate the client to feel, to live in a world without the problem. Examples of good solution questions:
What would be the revenue impact if we could implement this software?
What benefits do you see?
How many hours will this save from your staff each month?
Do not present the features and characteristics of your product just because they exist. Presenting solutions and demonstrations too soon invites the customer to show objections. Features and functionalities are just facts. The benefits are that they are the elements of your offer that make your customer's life better. Amateur marketers focus primarily on characteristics or advantages of a product and identify these elements as benefits when they are not. The advantages of a product show how it can help your customer and although they are more persuasive than the features and can attract a customer's interest, they are also just information. When you demonstrate the benefits of your product, you show exactly how your product can meet a specific need of your prospect. You are not selling a standard offer, a canister product, but it is offering a solution tailored to your client's interests and problems. Forget the advantages and features. Focus on the solution!
Objections are often seen as a sign of real interest in an offer, and not necessarily as the problem. Sellers are trained to deal with objections and to resolve them when the answer could have often been to avoid them. The easiest way to avoid objections is to work well at the implications stage and make the client explicitly mention their problems, consequences, and needs. By positioning yourself as a doctor treating the problems and their causes, you become much less prone to objections.
SPIN is a complex methodology and should be gradually assimilated. Ideally, you work each step at once, carefully and always have a reference to search. Write down your key questions and memorize them before meeting or calling a customer. Start with the situation and move forward slowly, ensuring that you have mastered the previous steps. Take note of everything, to ensure that you are tracking your progress and creating an irresistible sale to your customers. Putting it into practice is key and do not be discouraged if your initial results are timid. It takes time to learn and master the method, but the quality and results come with time.
The classic way of selling was developed for easy and small sales. To address large and complex sales, you need a methodology. Neil created the SPIN method to help you ask your prospects better questions and ensure that you can understand what they are, what their challenges and problems are, what happens if these challenges are not resolved, and ultimately what would the results be if this problem were solved. It's a model where you sell a solution to the customer and never focus on advantages or features.
Rackham began his academic training in Psychology, completed in 1966. During his time of research and graduate studies, he began to take the first steps in the world of negotiation and sales, initiating a project that was seeking to develop new tools to study and measure the importance of interpersonal skills to achieve success in sales. Also, he is a bestselling author in sales and creator of the SPIN methodology, widely adopted by sales professionals around the world. From 1970 to 1974, Rackham served as Managing Director of Performance Improvement Ltd., enhancing high-level skills for clients such as IBM, BP, British Airways, Xerox, and Honeywell. In 1974, he founded the Huthwaite Research Group, which later became Huthwaite Inc.,... (Read more)
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