SPIN Selling To Boost Your Business

Published: 20th February 2006
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What is SPIN?
The SPIN selling model has been developed through research studies of 35,000 sales calls. The objective of the research was to answer a question that had been troubling many people in high-end business to business sales.

The question was: Are there any special skills involved that make someone successful in large end sales? Or is selling just selling, so that the key skills involved are the same regardless of whether the sale is small or large?

Companies such as IBM and Xerox sponsored this research, and were prepared for a future where they thought that selling was about to become more complicated and sophisticated. They were finding out that many of their sales people who were successful in making small sales, failed miserably in the new large sales environment.

So they came up with the SPIN selling method. SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, & Needs. Let's look at the definitions of each to see how you can use them to further your business.

Situation Questions
These are questions you ask your prospect that deal with facts, and figures. You can't sell without these questions. Ask yourself; who benefits more from Situation Questions? Does my prospect benefit more or do I?

Situation Questions are asked to obtain information that will give you the facts you need to sell. Some examples of situation questions are; "How many employees are in your company?" Or "What turnaround time are you getting?"

This information is helpful to the seller but it doesn't do much for the buyers. Therefore, the research showed that the more situation questions in a call, the less likely it was to be a success. They found that most people asked more situation questions than they realized.

So in order to be a success, you will have to ask Situation questions with caution. You can't skip asking these types of questions, but you can't go overboard with them either. Ask just enough Situation Questions to collect information to help you in the sale.

Problem Questions
The research suggests that there are three types of other questions that are more powerful than the Situation questions. The more that any of these next three types of questions are asked in sales presentations and calls, the more likely that those calls will succeed. The first of these is called the Problem Questions.

Some examples of Problem Questions are; "How satisfied are you with your present computer system?" or "What prevents you from achieving that income goal for September?" or "What problems are you experiencing in this location?"

Experienced sales people ask more Problem Questions. Those with the most experience tended to ask more Problem Questions and they asked them sooner in the discussion. In contrast, those who were new to sales tended to ask mostly Situation Questions, and usually did not ask any Problem questions at all.

Why is this level of questioning more successful? The answer is that products and services all sell because they all solve problems. Another definition of a product or service is that it is a solution to someone's problem.

Implication Questions
Experience alone, is enough to teach sales people how important it is to ask the right questions. If you've been selling for many years, you know how important the value of Problem Questions is. If you are new to selling, then practicing Problem Questions is probably the single most important thing that you can do to improve your selling.

Implication Questions, however, do not get better with experience. A lot of the most experienced sales people have serious gaps in their questioning skills in this area. The most powerful of all questions, are Implication Questions.

Thousands of experienced sales persons failed to ask Implication Questions. Top sales people use a lot of these Implication Questions.

Top salespeople tended to introduce solutions, services and products very late in the discussion. Less successful colleagues couldn't wait to introduce their solutions and began talking about what they could offer.

Examples of Implication Questions include: "How will this problem affect your company's productivity?", "Could this lead to a decrease in your costs?", "What effect does this problem have on your yearly revenue?", or "How does this affect your budget at the end of the month?"

With Implication Questions, you want to induce pain. You want to build the consequences of the buyer's problems. In this way, you create anxiety in the buyer, and make him hunger for a solution that will take this pain away.

You want to hold back from early answers and solutions, and instead ask Implication Questions. You want to skillfully build pain in the buyer so that you can create a stronger need before introducing your solutions.

Needs-Payoff Benefit Questions
The last type of question used by top salespeople asks about the usefulness of a solution. These types of questions are called the Needs-Payoff Questions.

Examples of Needs-Payoff Questions are: "How much would you save if we could speed this process up by 15%?", "Is there any other way this solution would help your business grow?", or "Why is it important to resolve this problem?"

Unlike Situation, Problem, and Implication Questions, these questions focus on solutions. Because the solution focuses, buyers rate calls that are high in Need-Payoff Questions as useful, constructive and positive.

These types of questions are often the mirror image of the Implication Questions. For example, a buyer might have a problem that the present computer system is unstable. One way to dig into the problem might be to ask an Implication Question such as, "Could that unstableness create time consumptions that add to the decrease in productivity?"

You could equally explore this using a Need-Payoff Question like, "If you had better reliability of the computer systems, wouldn't that cut the time needed to produce goods, and reduce your costs in paying for man-hours?"

Either way is valid and you can use a mixture of Implication and Need-Payoff Questions to explore the consequences of problems and solutions.

Need-payoff questions have a positive function in that they get the buyer to tell you about the benefits of your solution. It eliminates having to explain the benefits to the buyer, because he or she is already telling you about them.

By getting buyers to talk about the benefits you have to offer, you can have a greater impact and be perceived as a lot less pushy.

It is often said that selling is not about convincing anyone to buy. It is about creating the right conditions to allow people to buy and to allow people to convince themselves. You can use these points to help you sell, but remember that high-level selling is never about a hard and rigid formula. The SPIN model should not be used as a formula, but instead it should be used as a flexible guide. Each selling situation will be different, but if you know and use the SPIN model as a general guide, it can help you succeed.

Now you have a roadmap for high-end sales that will help you as it has helped thousands of others.

About the Author
You are free to reprint this article, granted that you have live links to the author's websites on your sites and material.
Enigma Valdez is an Internet Marketer dedicated to helping businesses succeed. You can reach him at enigma007@charter.net or visit his websites at Http://www.Enigma-Valdez.com and http://resultsbasedmarketing.blogspot.com
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