What is SPIN Selling?

Situation Questions Example: "Would you describe your current projects?" Every good seller begins the sales call by assessing the terrain, by asking questions to clarify the client's current situation. So Situation Questions are essential, but here's the surprise. Situation Questions also can be overused, and often are by inexperienced salespeople. In fact, one characteristic of unsuccessful sales calls, they found, is that they contain a higher than average number of Situation Questions. Their advice: Do ask Situation Questions, but be sure they're necessary ones. Don't ask a question to elicit information that you easily could have obtained before beginning the call. And know that, when overused, these questions bore the client.

Problem Questions Example: "So you're having trouble placing qualified people in project roles?" Questions that are designed to identify a client's problem are more often asked -- and asked more often -- by experienced salespersons. The reason seems obvious enough. Inexperienced reps hope to "sail through" the call; they are tempted to see the client's problems as a distraction or threat. The more experienced you become, the more you want to uncover difficulties: The more you realize that client difficulties present you with an opportunity to be of service.

Implication Questions Example: "What kind of problems are created by having a gap in your project team?" These are questions about the "effects, consequences, or implications of the client's problems." They are strongly linked to success in larger-ticket sales, and yet they're more difficult to phrase than either Situation Questions or Problem Questions. But they are essential to moving larger sales forward, because they help to make the client (and the seller) conscious of hitherto hidden complications or of potential difficulties that may arise if steps are not taken to remedy the immediate problem. The virtue of this question is therefore also the risk: They make the problem seem more acute to the buyer.

Need-Payoff Questions. Example: "Just suppose we had someone on our database with the qualifications you are looking for, how valuable would this be to you?" Like Problem Questions, which they naturally follow, Need-Payoff Questions are linked to success in more complex sales. They can be especially useful when you're talking to top decision makers (or those who will influence them), and they increase the likelihood that your solution, if accepted, will provide the payoff that answers the need. These questions focus the client's attention on the solution rather than the problem, and they encourage him or her (with your assistance) to outline the benefits that your solution will provide his or her company. Thus a good Need-Payoff Question both pre-empts objections and enlists client buy-in.

Using Situation Questions to establish a context leading to Problem Questions so that the buyer reveals Implied Needs which are developed by Implication Questions which make the buyer feel the problem more clearly and acutely leading to Need-Payoff Questions so that the buyer states Explicit Needs allowing the seller to state Benefits which are strongly related to sales success.


Colly Graham CEO of salesxcellence After graduating from college, Colly entered the field of accountancy however after five years decided to change his career direction in sales. First working for a Fortune 500 company in fast moving consumer goods, his career progressed from selling capital equipment, financial services to internet services, with a wide management experience in both telephone and field sales, concentrating on the recruitment, training and development of sales people, in this ...

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