Spin selling is a tried and true sales methodology that enables people to gain a much deeper understanding of their prospect’s needs and pain points.
This method is designed to give salespeople the ability to uncover and address problems that their prospects may not even be aware of.
Using this method, a salesperson can gain insight into what drives their prospect’s decisions—including any hidden motives, needs, or desires. This allows them to understand the customer.
This post will discuss the basics of spin selling, how it is used in practice, and provide key tips for success.
What is Spin Selling?
Spin selling could be considered the definitive guide to an effective sales process. It is so effective that it has been known to be used by over 30% of the top 100 largest companies in the world.
Spin selling brought a sales process backed up by data – over 35,000 sales calls – to sales. Neil Rackham’s research focused on identifying the successful elements of any sales conversation, and subsequently shared these in his book SPIN Selling.
Over the years, the spin selling methodology has been proven to be effective in driving sales results. It focuses on building relationships with prospects, rather than pushing a product or service.
Spin Selling Book Summary
To understand the Spin Selling method I would highly recommend the Spin Selling book by Neil Rackham which was first released in 1988.
To give your sales team a head start, check out a quick overview below courtesy of Hubspot.
Section 1. Sales Behavior and Sales Success
- Closing is less important than most salespeople and managers think
- Questioning is more important than most salespeople and managers think
- The ratio of close-ended to open-ended questions doesn’t predict selling success
- Great reps focus on preventing, not handling, objections
Section 2. Obtaining Commitment: Closing the Sale
- Successful closing depends on getting the right commitment
- Reps must determine their call objectives in advance
- There are four potential outcomes to every sales call: order, advance, continuation, no-sales
Section 3. Customer Needs in the Major Sale
- Implicit needs are statements about problems, issues, and areas of dissatisfaction
- Explicit needs are specific features or functions
- In larger sales, explicit needs are strong buying signals
Section 4. The SPIN Strategy
- Salespeople who close at high rates tend to ask the same types of questions in the same order
- There are four main question types: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff
- Each question type plays a different role in moving the buyer toward the sale
Section 5. Giving Benefits in Major Sales
- Features and benefits are the most common ways to pitch a product to the buyer
- Advantages are less effective later in the sales process
- Features are more important to users than decision makers
- Benefits have the highest influence over the purchasing decision, but only when presented near the end of the sales conversation
Section 6. Preventing Objections
- Objections are usually created by the salesperson, not the buyer
- The more advantages you present, the more objections you’ll receive
- Develop needs before you offer benefits to avoid unnecessary objections
Section 7. Preliminaries: Opening the Call
- Don’t use conventional openings, i.e. providing benefits or relating to the prospect’s personal interests
- Get down to business quickly and establish your purpose
Section 8. Turning Theory Into Practice
- Adopt one principle of SPIN Selling at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed
- Practice them with smaller accounts or existing customers first
Is Spin Selling Relatable in 2022?
Even though Spin Selling is a process that was created over 30 years ago, the spin sales process is still relevant for your sales reps.
In 2022, your customers have access to more information than ever before. They can compare features, prices and service levels from a variety of businesses in an instant.
This means that the spin sales methodology is more important than ever. You need to understand your customers ’ needs, focus on building relationships with customers, and be prepared to address any objections that arise.
By using the spin sales process and focusing on customer needs rather than pushing your product or service, you can create a strong connection with customers and increase sales success.
The Spin Selling Method in Detail
The Spin Selling method is a structured questioning model that sales reps can use to understand the customer’s pain points and current situation fully.
The spin selling methodology provides sales reps with a proven path to sales success, enabling the customer to speak and forcing the sales rep to listen (something not often considered on sales calls).
There are 4 key stages to the spin selling process.
When getting to know your customer, it’s important for sales reps to understand the current situation first. Taking the time to listen and understand the customer’s current situation will help you build a strong connection.
Once you have understood the situation, the spin selling process relies on problem questions to take the conversation to a deeper level.
Your customer may not have identified their problems yet, so it’s vital for reps to understand them and present solutions to the customer.
Once you understand your customer’s problems, it’s time to talk about the implication and need payoff.
Implication questions help the prospect understand the consequences of their problems, and it’s important to understand these to help them make an informed decision.The more sales reps can build up and make the prospect understand the implications of not acting, the more likely they will be to take action.
What would the prospect benefit from if the sales rep can help the prospect understand the need payoff by demonstrating the capability of your product?
This is the point in the spin sales call where reps can start to discuss features and benefits. By talking about how their product will benefit the customer, reps can use need payoff to reinforce that their product is the right choice.
Why Spin Selling Works
When Neil Rackham first introduced spin selling in the 1980s, he argued that it is more effective than traditional sales approaches.
He wanted to understand just what made a top sales rep better than a lower performing sales rep. Was it down to sales training? Or, was there something else at play.
After analysis of over 35,000 sales calls, spin selling was devised.
Spin selling still works today.
The main reasons why it works so well is that:
- It encourages sales reps to focus on customer needs rather than pitching
- It allows customers to talk and encourages sales reps to listen
- It helps build relationships with customers
- It encourages exploring customer motivations and understanding their pain points.
By using the spin selling process, sales reps can create win-win situations for both themselves and the customer.
If done correctly, it can be used to build strong relationships, increase customer loyalty and ultimately help sales reps close more deals.
Spin Selling Questions to Ask
Now that you have an understanding of the spin selling process, lets look at some spin questions your can share with your sales team at the next sales training.
Spin Selling Questions: Situation
Situation questions when your use spin selling include:
1. What brought you to us today?
2. How did this issue come about?
3. Could you tell me a bit more about your current situation?
Spin Selling Questions: Problem
Problem or addressing pain points include:
1. What are the implications of this issue?
2. What issues have you experienced as a result of this problem?
3. What is the biggest challenge this issue is causing your company?
Spin Selling Questions: Implication
Implication questions incude:
1. What are the potential consequences of not acting?
2. How does this issue impact your organization’s success?
3. What could happen if you don’t find a solution?
Spin Selling Questions: Need Payoff
Examples of need payoff questions include?
1. How could this solution help you achieve your goals?
2. Why do you believe our product is your right choice?
3. What benefits will you get from our product?
How to apply Spin Selling (The 4 Stages)
Neil says there are 4 distinct stages of every sale, theses stages are:
- Opening (also called “preliminaries”)
- Demonstrating capability
- Obtaining commitment
When opening the sales team needs to connect with the customer and build rapport. This stage is also a good opportunity to ask more high-level questions, such as “What brought you here today”?.
Investigation could be also considered the discovery phase of the sales cycle. Here, sales reps should use spin selling to uncover the customer’s challenges and needs. Asking open-ended questions is key in this stage.
At this stage, sales reps can start to explain the product features and benefits. It’s important that they relate these back to what the customer needs.
The three ways a sales team can demonstrate capability is though features, advantages and benefits.
An example of a feature might be a smartphone with a 5.5 inch display.
An example of an advantage might be that the smartphone has a big display which is great for watching movies.
The benefit of this feature and advantage would be that it offers an enjoyable viewing experience on a device that fits in your pocket.
Finally at some stage any sales rep on a sales team will need to handle objections of some sort. It’s important to remember the customer isn’t necessarily saying no, the objections could be just a way of them trying to understand more.
When handling an objection, it can be helpful for sales reps to restate what the customer is saying. This can help generate trust and give sales reps vital information as to the real reason behind the objection.
Outcomes for Measuring Spin Selling Success
Finally, once you have gone through implication questions, need payoff questions, situation questions and the like, it is important to measure the success of spin selling.
The 4 outcomes for the spin model include:
This is when the customer moves onto a new stage in the buying process.
This happens when the sales rep advances or completes a current phase of the buying process.
When a sale is completed and an order is placed.
When no agreement has been made and there is no
Using the spin selling model can help sales reps to uncover customer needs and increase their chances of closing a sale.
As shown in this article, the spin selling process consists of opening, investigating, demonstrating capability and obtaining commitment stages.
Each stage helps sales teams to understand their customer’s needs better. Additionally, it is important for sales reps to handle objections and measure their success using the advance, continuation, order, no-sale outcomes.
If implemented correctly, spin selling can positively impact a sales team’s performance.