In an effort to learn more about selling and sales I picked up SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham and Bob Kalomeer. The book is a fantastic read as it brings a pragmatic, well researched approach to sales conversations that can be immediately applied, not just to sales but to everyday life and consulting as well.
SPIN Selling is a book based on research and studies conducted by a group of researchers from the Huthwaite Institute. They took an academic look at sales techniques and identified what successful people are doing to succeed in sales.
The researchers discovered that successful sales people guide their customer with a series of questions. The questions that these sales people use typically fall into a series of categories. As the conversations progressed over time the researchers discovered that these series of questions would lead the customer towards closing the sale. The technique follows a Socratic style of questioning. The SPIN Selling technique is in contrast to the typical form of selling by first showcasing a series of features and benefits. Then secondly, matching those features and benefits to the customers needs. And, finally establishing a superiority in the market of the sales persons product or service against their competition. This traditional technique was found to be less successful than the SPIN Selling technique.
The SPIN Selling technique follows the below form of questioning:
- Situational Questions
- Problem Questions
- Implication Questions
- Need Payoff Questions
Successful sales people often use a mix questions from each of those categories and move between them during the sales conversation. The key takeaway for me is that the questioning is used to help direct the customer towards identifying and addressing their needs, through this style of questioning you lead the customer to realize their problems and potential solutions.
The book also identifies other behaviors and actions of successful sales people these are in the areas of identifying customer needs, successful actions and how they define success.
Further details on the SPIN Selling technique and these successful behaviors are captured in the Mind Map below.