What is SPIN Selling: definition, benefits, and tips to get started

SPIN selling is a sales technique developed in the late 1980s, and it’s still one of the most effective ways to sell to customers today. It’s based on asking appropriate questions to understand the customer’s needs and desires. 

Many sales reps of the modern age apply this technique in their practical sales, often without even knowing about it. In this glossary entry, we’ll explain in detail what SPIN selling is, what benefits it can bring to your sales team, and how to get started with it. 

What is SPIN selling?

The key concept behind SPIN selling is leading a prospect to purchase without an open product presentation. In other words, you should never start by trying to close a deal, no matter how tempting it might be. Instead, focus on building a relationship with your customer first. Once you’ve got their trust, you can start selling to them. 

The field of prospect persuasion is expanded by studying their hidden pain points and identifying their individual traits instead of working with the general characteristics of the target audience.

The author of the SPIN technique and the book of the same name, Neil Rackham, literally turned the world of sales upside down in his time. He systematized everything that sales geniuses intuitively understood and brought to light a new approach to making deals (having spent 12 years studying more than 35 thousand sales situations). The method has been validated across many industries and countries afterward, proving its high efficiency.

The acronym SPIN stands for Solution, Problem, Implication, and Need. And each step of the process is designed to move the sale forward.

The four steps of a SPIN sale

SPIN is a systematic way of selling, and it’s repeatedly proven successful. Rather than following a strict script for every sales conversation, the SPIN model motivates salespeople to ask situational questions to move their prospects through the sales funnel.

The SPIN strategy breaks down the sale process into 4 steps: 

  1. Situation: understand the prospect’s current situation
  2. Problem: identify the prospect’s problem
  3. Implication: explain the consequences of not solving the problem
  4. Need: show the prospect they need to solve the problem and how your product or service can do that.

Ultimately, the prospect has to realize that your solution is vital for them and worth the money you want for it.

SPIN question examples and tips

At each stage of SPIN selling, sales reps should be prepared to ask several specific questions to build a logical chain. Here’re some examples:

Situational questions

Building a logical chain begins with collecting the necessary data and identifying the non-obvious needs of the client. Situational questions that prepare the ground for the next SPIN stages are carefully selected not to irritate the prospect or make them feel like they are on an interrogation. 

  • How often do you implement email marketing campaigns?
  • Do you know that almost half of the cold emails land in the Spam folder?
  • What email automation tools do you use for your cold outreach?

Problematic questions

This block of questions aims to make the prospect understand that the current state of affairs is not beneficial to them. At this stage, you should identify the problem and be ready to offer a solution to the potential customer at any moment. 

  • Do you face difficulties when preparing your cold outreach campaigns?
  • Do you have any inconveniences when crafting your email marketing campaigns?
  • Does it cause problems that most emails bounce or are not delivered to your addressees’ Inboxes?

Implication questions

Having understood the situation and identified the problem, you now need to expand it and make the prospect think about its consequences for their business. At this stage, don’t push and don’t hurry up. Try to avoid the stereotyped construction of phrases that can cause rejection. 

Implication questions (just like the two previous types) should be accurate, varied, and natural. Only in this case will they have an effective impact — they will lead to the idea that the absence of specific measures to fix the situation will inevitably lead to losses. 

  • How does the low deliverability rate compared to competitors affect your company’s sender reputation?
  • How much of your projected profit are you losing due to the low efficiency of your cold outreach?
  • Does the frequent failure of your email marketing efforts cause significant unexpected expenses?

Guiding questions

This block is the last link in the SPIN sales chain. By answering them, the prospect can conclude that your proposal contains the optimal, profitable solution to their pain point. 

Having realized the mechanism of their mistakes, the prospect begins to look for a solution, and your questions dispel doubts and push their thoughts in the right direction. 

  • Did you consider small efforts like warming up your email account to optimize the cold outreach process?
  • Could the choice of more reliable email automation tools help you save more time to dedicate to better preparation of your email marketing campaigns?
  • Will the improved deliverability, open, and conversion rates help you outperform competitors and generate more leads for your company?

Pro-tip: All the blocks of questions should not go in a continuous stream. Instead, you should harmonize the conversation with your prospect with short introductions, stats, testimonials of your clients, and case studies. Just as every customer is different, so are the questions a sales rep should ask in every individual conversation. 

Benefits of SPIN selling

Today, the SPIN technique is seen as ideal for “long sales” in B2B sales, as well as in the sale of expensive, complex, and high-tech products in a saturated market and intense competition.

When you learn how to use the SPIN selling technique, you’ll be able to close more sales and boost your bottom line. But that’s not all. This advanced technique also has a lot of other benefits, like:

  • It helps eliminate buyer’s remorse by getting customers to commit to a purchase before they walk away from the table.
  • It makes it easier to identify prospects’ needs and wants, so you can sell the right product or service.
  • It helps build trust because prospects feel like they’re in control of the sale.
  • It can speed up the sales process because you’re not wasting time on prospects who aren’t interested in what you’re selling.

Wrapping up

SPIN selling is a powerful sales technique that can help you close more sales and make more money. It is a proven method that has been used by sales professionals for years and is now efficiently adapting itself to the digital age.

Today, SPIN selling is most effective when you’re keeping track of your prospect details when they move through your pipeline in a modern CRM system. SPIN selling questions incorporated in your CRM will become an essential element your sales strategy has been missing to make a real impact.

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