If You Aren’t SPIN Selling, It’s Time to Start (Part I)

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I am not a big reader. I prefer to learn from actions and experiences. However, there is one book I make mandatory for EVENTup’s salespeople: SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. In a two-part series, I’m going to a) Distill the lessons from SPIN that stand the test of time, and b) In Part II, discuss how to apply SPIN to email, which wasn’t popular when Rackham wrote.

Hot I Got into SPIN

Published in 1988, SPIN Selling did what very few books do today: It backed tips with original research (what a thought!). Rackham and his team at Huthwaite Corporation analyzed 35,000 sales calls over 12 years to reach the main conclusions. Unlike prior sales books, SPIN focused on high-value sales, like the kind we often do in B2B tech.

My former CEO at Echo Global Logistics, Doug Waggoner, suggested this book about ten years ago. I was already the #1 salesperson in the company and do not enjoy reading. But I trusted him and thought, why not? Thanks to Doug, I used SPIN to sharpen my craft.

The SPIN Basics

SPIN argues that buyers should do most of the talking, and sellers should ask the questions. Rather than ram a product down someone’s throat, have a dialogue that builds an appetite for the product. SPIN is an acronym for the four types of questions that lead to good rapport, interest and ultimately sales. I’ll introduce the acronym and share brief examples from my current business, EVENTup.

Situation questions collect facts, data, and background (e.g. What do you currently use to advertise your event space?). Thanks to the web, we might have intel already, but validating it kicks off the conversation. In calls that succeed, sellers ask fewer Situation questions than in calls that fail.

Problem questions get at challenges, shortcomings, and difficulties. They uncover implied needs (e.g. Are you getting the results you want from your advertising?). Experienced sellers ask more Problem questions than Situation questions. Asking more Problem questions is linked with success in small sales but not large sales.

Read the rest on Forbes.

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