SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham [Book Summary]

by Nick

SPIN selling is the result of twelve years of research and 35,000 telephone sales, which has evolved into a coherent and practically applicable sales strategy that guarantees a stubborn seller success. You will understand why traditional sales methods have a very limited effect and learn the benefits of the SPIN strategy with modest and large-scale sales opportunities.

One of the founders of the modern theory of sales, Neil Rackham is also the founder and first president of Huthwaite, a company offering seminars and training to increase sales for trading organizations.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint

Learn How to Handle Large and Small Orders and How to Close Deals

Training is a great thing. After 12 years of research and 35,000 sales ─ by telephone, the author brought his sales technique to perfection. And now you have a chance to use his knowledge!

The decision to conclude a transaction by phone lies in the SPIN strategy. The SPIN abbreviation consists of the first letters of the following words: situation, problem, implication, and need-payoff. These definitions briefly describe any sales situation.

Of course, for a successful sale, you must be able to ask the right questions, but if you do not set yourself up for success from the very beginning, you will not be able to close a single transaction.

This book explores not only the SPIN technique but also other elements of successful sales, starting with the ability to quickly and easily capture the attention of the buyer and ending with work with objections. Using SPIN will lead you directly to the goal, you will close more transactions and revitalize your business.

After reading the book, you will find out:

  • Why doesn’t your way of starting a sale as a joke help you make a big deal;
  • Why you should explain to the client his obvious needs;
  • How to distinguish characteristics from an advantage.

A Successful Sale Consists of Four Stages. To Get the Answers You Need, Check the Questions You Are Going to Ask.

Work in sales consists not only in the conclusion of millions of transactions, but any seller will also confirm this to you. Daily calls to customers become a boring routine.

Traditional sales techniques are slow and often use the same approach in different situations. The seller begins the conversation, addressing the interests of the client; finds out his needs with open questions; emphasizes the benefits of the product; works with objections and closes the deal.

From this point of view, a magazine subscription can be sold during one call. “Do you like sports? Then Sports Magazine is for you! Can’t you read? Do not worry, the latest issue is full of pictures, I will send them to you now. ”

This might work with small orders, but large fish are harder to catch. Suppose you are a manager about to replace the primary supplier of your company. Such a task requires lengthy discussions involving all interested parties and vigilance in response to the cunning tricks of a hungry seller!

All sales, regardless of the size of the transaction, go through 4 stages: the preparatory stage, research (identification of needs), demonstration of the capabilities of the goods and transaction.

Suppose you sell computers. You explain to the potential buyer that you are working with HP (preparation), detail the technical specifications of the processor (demonstration) and are trying to get consent to buy 10 new laptops (transaction).

Now imagine how much easier it would be to conclude a deal if you immediately received a negative answer to your question: “Are you satisfied with your current IT system?”

Research is the stage of the sale that decides the fate of the deal. It is at this stage that the seller can make contact with a potential customer and establish a connection with him.

The Summary you might like: Cold Calling Techniques

A Well-closed Transaction Brings Success but is Not the Basis of a Successful Sales Strategy

The completion of the transaction is the moment when the customer makes a purchase ─ of your product. Any seller will tell you that for the sake of good completion of the transaction, even the most experienced seller will get up in the middle of the night.

A typical example of a closing technique would be, for example, the following question: “When is it more convenient for you to receive the goods: on Friday or Monday?”. Moreover, you can set it, even if the client has not expressed an explicit consent to buy. This approach works when selling inexpensive products, such as printers or vacuum cleaners.

But the larger the transaction amount, the more negatively the client reacts to such a “familiar” closing technique. If you violently and prematurely try to close a major deal, potential customers may lose interest in the deal or even feel offended.

If a real estate agent tells you that you will lose a good option if you don’t make a decision within 24 hours, most likely you will feel annoyed, but you won’t want to sign a contract.

In a small transaction, a closing technique can expedite the successful completion of negotiations. And with a big deal, potential buyers do not want to rush. So how do you close a big deal without pushing the buyer?

First, you must understand that every attempt to sell does not have to end in victory or defeat. A phone call can be valuable in itself and lead to a sale later. For example, you can schedule your next appointment or schedule a product presentation.

In fact, to consider that the completion of the transaction is the main thing in sales is wrong. But if you need to close the sale, what should you concentrate on?

The answer lies at the heart of the SPIN strategy.

Your Potential Client May Not Know What Exactly He Needs. It is You Who Must Help Him Figure It Out.

Forget closing a deal and making the same calls over and over. In fact, the sale depends on your knowledge of the customer’s needs, and it can be very difficult to get to know them.

Needs can emerge from small tasks, which then grow into serious problems that need to be addressed. But the development processes of needs for small and large transactions differ.

For example, you can buy a great and inexpensive office gadget at your local computer store for the occasion. But buying a whole batch of computers for the marketing department will require reflection and careful research.

It is because of these differences that the seller must identify the needs of the client and work with him in accordance with them.

Clients who know exactly what they want demonstrate obvious needs, for example, the need to replace the old copier with a new one, with double-sided printing.

But the client may also have hidden needs that can be revealed during the conversation about what interests him. For example, you may find out that he is worried about the ever-increasing consumption of paper.

A good seller can smell an implicit need. But for a major transaction, it’s not enough to be able to listen well. You need to turn a hidden need into an explicit one!

The presence of a hidden need is a signal indicating a customer’s desire to buy, but the signal is weak, requiring reinforcement. Starting with a printer demonstration for $ 300 and adjusting to the hidden needs of the client, you can turn a small transaction into a large order for a printing system for $ 50,000.

So, if you can grab hold of such hidden signals and present them to the client as obvious needs, you can convince him to get an even more expensive solution than he really needs.

The SPIN strategy outlines 4 main sales areas: situation, problem, outcome, and need-solution

To Correctly Understand the Needs of the Client, You Need to Work With Four Main Areas.

The acronym SPIN will help you remember them: Situation, Problem, Outcome, and Necessity-solution.

A reasonable seller asks potential customers competent questions regarding all these areas. To learn more about your client, start with questions about the situation and the problem.

Questions about the situation will lead you to the bare facts. For example, you may ask: “What computer equipment do you use?” Or “Who is your Internet service provider?” It is necessary to ask such questions, but do not bother the client with an avalanche of situational questions. Ask questions about the problem as well, they will help you get to the bottom of the matter and find out the difficulties and unmet needs of the client.

Correct problematic questions should be: “Are you satisfied with the work of your Internet provider?” Or “Isn’t it too difficult for you to file a tax return?”

Do not forget about hidden needs, you must identify them too! The final questions are designed to “dig deeper” and find out the consequences of customer problems.

Perhaps your client believes that his problem does not entail any consequences. You need to identify and discuss problems and their consequences, which he did not even think about. It can be overtime costs or staff turnover.

The larger the deal, the more important it is to be able to turn a small problem into a serious matter requiring immediate action by the client.

But you, in no case, should drive the client into longing, concentrating solely on problems! Therefore, then you turn the conversation to a solution that you propose using questions like “need-solution” for this.

Having emphasized the problems of the client, you must find out from him how he intends to solve them. If everything went according to plan, and you managed to present your services with dignity, the client will perceive your offer as an effective and most obvious solution to his problems.

Do Not Start a Conversation With a Client Either Too Cheekily or Too Formally. Watch Your Tone and Act Appropriately

If you master the SPIN technique, you will become a master at every stage of sales. But first, let’s take a look at key selling points that are not directly related to using SPIN.

Sellers repeatedly repeat that their first words to potential customers are extremely important. In fact, the start of a conversation does not decide the fate of the transaction.

The standard tactic of talking with a client during a small transaction makes no sense when you are working on a large transaction.

For example, the seller of a local grocery store may ask the buyer about the health of his children. But if so the Porsche seller starts chatting with the client, especially if the parties to the transaction are still unfamiliar, it will be not only strange but also unprofessional. No better than an inappropriate familiarity that resembles a robot’s speech when the seller repeats the memorized text, the same for all buyers.

You have to find a balance: be friendly and customer-oriented, but do not forget where you are and who you are talking to. Ask yourself: if I were in the place of a client, what would I like to hear?

Starting a Conversation, You Should Ask the Right Questions That Will Allow You to Move on.

Here is an example of a successful start: “Hello! My name is John, I work for Global Airlines, and I call, because our new offer for regular customers may be interesting for business travelers who travel frequently like you. ”

When the greeting and presentation are over, the competent seller goes to business. Joking or demonstrating strained friendliness is a waste of time ─ for both sides!

However, do not go straight to your suggestions, this will make the client begin to object to you. Better think about how to smoothly go on to describe the benefits of your product.

Product specifications ─ just information. Advantage ─ part of your offer that improves customer life

Having started the conversation correctly and armed with the SPIN technique, you proceed to the demonstration and concentrate on showing the benefits of the product.

It seems easy, right?

Yes, it is simple if you confuse the advantages of your product with its characteristics and advantages.

Poor sellers usually rely on product features, mistakenly believing these are benefits. But characteristics are simply information about a product or service.

The car can be described by saying that it is a four-door, blue and can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. These characteristics do not sell, they only describe. Would you buy a car just by looking at a description of its technical parameters?

The product shows how the product can help your customers. A car can have excellent fuel consumption, for example, just a 150 gallon.

Despite the fact that the advantages are more convincing than just a list of characteristics and can attract the attention of the client, they also only inform.

But when you describe the benefits of a product, you show how exactly your product can satisfy the specific needs of a potential customer.

Suppose you know that your customer wants to save the environment while saving money. This will force you to offer him a hybrid car: a product that will save him $ 5,000 a year and make him an environmentally-conscious motorist.

T.O. Instead of selling a standard solution based on features and advantages, you offer an individual solution to your client’s problem.

Do Not Let the Client Torture You With Objections. Prevent Their Appearance!

Sellers often do not understand the true nature of customer objections. Sometimes objections are signs of interest in the proposal, and should not be perceived by us as a problem.

Work with objections is a serious topic of many pieces of training ─ on sales, usually, sellers are taught to rephrase objections in such a way that it is easier to work with them.

Not too qualified sellers deserve the objections they receive. If you list the product features for a long time, the customer expects that it will be expensive. If you describe only the advantages, this can also cause rejection, especially if before that you did not bother to find out the needs of the client.

Most often, the client rejects your offer, not even realizing their true needs and referring to general expenses or satisfaction with current agreements. More often than not, a bad seller tries to work with objections involuntarily provoked by himself!

A skilled seller, on the contrary, will prevent objections.

How it’s done?

It’s simple, you already know how to do it! Remember the stages of SPIN, ask questions about the “outcome” and “need-decision” to make the client express their needs clearly.

When you do this, you can point out to the client the benefits of the product that meet his needs. The client will begin to trust you and listen to your opinion. By dealing with the causes of the client’s problem, rather than its consequences, you are less likely to run into objections.

Now our theoretical sales lessons are over. Next, you will find several practical tips that will guide you along the path of success!

You can’t incorporate SPIN into your sales strategy in one evening. Training is a great thing!

It is time to use the SPIN strategy for your sales.

Even if This Prospect Scares You, Do Not Give Up. Implement Spin Step by Step.

Often sellers try to improve their sales skills and grab onto all the problems at once. Instead, implement one SPIN step at a time, and proceed to the next step only when you have learned the previous lessons.

If you want to confidently and successfully use new sales techniques, you should practice them constantly.

Training your skills is very important. I learned this fact by conducting a survey of 200 golfers who have just received their first private lesson. 75% of the participants felt insecure and awkward about the advice they received, and some started playing worse after the lesson!

And this is normal. Therefore, before deciding whether a new strategy or behavior is right for you, try it at least three times.

During training, pay more attention to quantity rather than quality. It is like learning a language: it’s better to talk a lot and make mistakes than to be panicky afraid to miss.

The same applies to the spin strategy. When practicing your new knowledge, do not worry about the quality of your attempts. Keep trying, the more often the better. Quality will come with time!

However, remember that newly acquired knowledge should not be used in a critical situation. You risk losing a lot, including your self-confidence.

Do not try new knowledge in big deals, experiment with small and safer deals, with famous regular customers, getting to know them better and better.

The Final Words

Despite the fact that the traditional approach to sales has worked well, it must be recognized that increasing sales requires the introduction of an innovative strategy. To create a brilliant sales career, focus on identifying your customers’ needs.

Solve problems. Before calling a customer, ask yourself what problem you would like to solve. Be prepared by writing down at least three potential problems that he may encounter that can be solved with the help of your product or service.

Why You Should Read “SPIN Selling”

  • To start selling more
  • To be able to operate commercial processes more efficiently
  • To become a great sales manager

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint