What is SPIN Selling...and How Can Pipeliner CRM Help?

The name SPIN Selling comes from a highly influential book with that same title by Neil Rackham, originally published in 2000. It is a selling methodology that is now taught globally, and has been echoed and forwarded in many publications since.

SPIN Selling was developed following the careful observation, by sales experts, of 35,000 sales calls. Through this observation it became clear that the quality of questions asked by a salesperson were key to the success of a sale. The right questions could speed up the process, whereas the wrong questions could stall it or even halt it completely.

The term SPIN is a acronym of four different types of sales questions designed to bring a prospect into interest and through to a sale:

  • SITUATION questions
  • PROBLEM questions
  • IMPLICATION questions
  • NEED-PAYOFF questions

Let's examine each of these types in more detail.

Situation Questions

The answers to Situation questions form the foundation of a sales cycle. The purpose of these questions is to develop an understanding of the prospect and their precise situation (hence the name) as regards an offering such as yours.

Examples of Situation questions:

  • How do you currently manage your customer’s contact details?
  • How do you keep track of what’s happening in your sales pipeline?
  • How do you maintain an overview of how your individual sales reps are performing?

The information obtained from these questions is used throughout the remainder of the sales cycle.

Of course the more research you do prior to the initial conversation, the more intelligent and precise your questions will be—and the more useful data you will gather.

Problem Questions

The idea behind Problem questions is to bring the prospect into an awareness that there is a problem or problems that need to be solved. These problems and issues are what you will gently but firmly use to drive the sale forward.

Problem questions are also effective at causing a prospect to identify issues that might have been otherwise overlooked.

Examples of Problem questions:

  • Was the amount of training you needed to get up and running with your CRM ever a problem?
  • Do you find it’s expensive adding new users to your CRM?
  • What’s the biggest problem you’re facing so far when managing your sales pipeline?

Implication Questions

Implication questions are designed to shine a light on the potential impact if the problems and issues named in the Problem questions are not addressed.

Correctly phrased and asked, Implication questions clearly demonstrate to the prospect in their own mind that the problems really need to be solved, sooner rather than later.

Examples of Implication questions:

  • If leads don’t get input into your CRM system, what’s the impact on your sales outlook?
  • If training on your CRM is costly and time-consuming, what does that mean for new reps when they start?
  • If you can’t accurately see your performance to date, how much response time do you have to implement a fix if you anticipate your sales are falling short of target?

Need-payoff Questions

Now that you've brought your prospect to the realization of how the situation will only deteriorate if it isn't solved, you then want to get them considering how valuable a real solution to the problem or problems would be. That is the point of the Need-payoff questions.

Examples of Need-payoff questions:

  • Why is being able to have a big picture overview of your sales pipeline important to you?
  • If you could cut the amount of time spent training new staff on your CRM, what impact would that have?
  • If you could see the opportunities in your pipeline at a glance, how would that help you achieve your sales targets?

The secret to getting results with need-payoff questions is to ensure the buyer specifies the benefits themselves. Encourage them to visualize, and imagine the difference with that problem solved.

The beauty of these questions is that if you get them right, your customer will tell you how your product will help.

Need-payoff questions need to evoke positive emotions. After all, it feels good to know that a pressing problem can finally be solved.

Effective CRM: A Vital Necessity

In order for SPIN Selling to be truly effective, it requires a highly efficient CRM solution.

  • As you gather data throughout your questioning, you need to record it so that it can be instantly retrieved, as you make your way through the sales cycle.
  • The answers to SPIN questions fall into one or another of the steps of your sales process. Your CRM solution should exactly mirror your sales process so the answers fall into the same places, every time.
  • Your sales process stages should be mapped out as precisely as possible, with the SPIN questions that should be asked in each stage, the answers that need to be obtained in each stage, and the buyer and seller actions laid out that will result in the sale moving to the next stage.

With its completely visual, intuitive functionality, Pipeliner CRM meets and exceeds these qualifications, and more.

Find out how Pipeliner CRM can totally empower your SPIN Selling efforts. Download our free trial.

SPIN is a registered trademark of MHI. 

About Neil Rackham

Neil Rackham

Neil Rackham is known throughout the world as a speaker, writer and seminal thinker on sales and marketing issues. Three of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list.

Rackham first gained international recognition in the 1970s when he led the largest ever research study of successful selling and sales effectiveness. The research took 12 years at a cost, in today’s dollars, of $30 million. From the results of these studies he published the groundbreaking classic SPIN Selling. Learn more >

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