SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling Sales Book ReviewSPIN Selling

Book by: Neil Rackham

Summary by: Rob Reed


SPIN Selling – Introduction

Although this book was originally published over twenty years ago, it still contains tactical selling information that can be used by most sellers today. In his book, SPIN Selling, Mr. Rackham suggests that by using the SPIN questions will “get your customers to feel a genuine need for your product.” It is certainly appropriate to use effective questioning to better understand your customers’ needs. At the same time, if you increase your level of trust with customers (trust factor), you’re much more likely to uncover the “true needs” that are important to them.

SPIN Selling is especially pertinent to those sellers whose primary focus is non-commodity (more complex) sales. According to Mr. Rackham, a major sale may require many sales calls (over a period of months); larger purchases involving more risk; and will most likely include an ongoing relationship with the customer. SPIN Selling was created from researching over 35,000 sales calls by sellers at varying success levels. At the time, many of the “results” from his studies, as well as suggestions for successful selling, went “against the grain” of what was thought to be the necessary skills of a “successful” seller.

SPIN Selling – Summary

While the title of the book, SPIN Selling, relates to only one stage of the sales call, Mr. Rackham actually discusses four stages. Based on his research, he states that almost every sales call progresses through four distinct stages:

  • Preliminaries – the warming up events at the start of the call
  • Investigating – finding out facts, information, and needs
  • Demonstrating Capability – showing that you’ve got something worthwhile to offer
  • Obtaining Commitment – gaining an agreement to proceed to a further stage of the sale

For the sake of simplicity, he uses the singular form of sales “call,” but major sales will typically take place over multiple calls. Most seller time should be focused on the Investigating and Demonstrating Capability stages.

PreliminariesAccording to Mr. Rackham, this stage is the least important of the four stages of the sales call, and therefore contains relatively little information. Based on studies and his own observations, however, a few thoughts from this stage include:

  1. While many older selling books emphasize the importance of appearance, most recent research suggests that initial appearances are far less important.
  2. First impressions will not make or break your sales success in major sales.
  3. Opening sales calls with personal interest questions (“I see you play golf”) will probably do more harm than good. “The last thing a busy buyer wants is to tell the tenth seller of the day all about his last game of golf. The more senior the people you’re selling to, the more they feel their time is at a premium, and the more impatience you’re likely to generate if you dwell on non-business areas.”
  4. The most effective sellers opened each sales call in a different way, and less effective sellers began every call with a standard opening.
  5. Get down to business quickly, unless the buyer leads you elsewhere.
  6. Try to establish yourself as a questioner early in the call so you don’t find yourself talking about solutions and capabilities too soon.
  7. Always enter the sales call with prepared questions.

InvestigatingAccording to the author, this is the stage of the sales call that most impacts top sellers than all the other stages. Although contrary to what other sales books suggest, Mr. Rackham found there was no success distinction between those sellers who asked closed questions and those who asked open questions – it simply doesn’t matter. Instead, the kind of questions used to uncover customer needs was of greater importance. These four types of questions are presented in a natural sequence, but the author makes it clear that there is not a rigid formula to follow, and the seller will be more effective using them in the order that makes the most sense for the flow of the sales call. The SPIN model includes:

  1. Situation Questions – Used to identify the customer’s current situation. What equipment do you use now? How long have you been in this position? According to Rackman, “too many Situation Questions can bore or irritate the customer. Research shows that successful people ask them sparingly…”
  2. Problem Questions – Used to identify dissatisfaction, issues and problems. Are you satisfied with your current equipment? Do you have reliability problems? These kinds of questions are strongly linked to sales success in smaller sales, but are not strongly linked in major sales.
  3. Implication Questions – Used to identify the consequences, ramifications or impact of customer problems. How have the reliability problems impacted your maintenance costs? Has this impacted your overall profitability? In major sales, most successful calls usually contain…[Please click to learn how to get the rest of this sales book review and much more.]