Suppose you’ve used Convolo to get in touch with a lead, had a call with your customer and agreed on a presentation. A good beginning is half the battle. However, your presentation may fall flat if one integral element is missing – a thorough preparation. When you finish a call with your customer, how often do you catch yourself thinking that some important questions to ask have slipped your mind? And SPIN questions are here to help you dig enough nuggets of information to make an effective and compelling presentation.
SPIN selling is a set of sales techniques formulated by Neil Rackham, a well-known sales consultant. However, SPIN selling is as much a mindset as a set of techniques. In its time, the book ‘SPIN Selling’ paved the way for a more customer-oriented approach in selling. But what is behind yet another acronym? How exactly the SPIN technique can help you make a comprehensive and effective presentation?
What makes this SPIN model particularly applicable to the presentation process is that it motivates the salesperson to ask the right questions to customers when the timing is right (for example, it helps the salesperson to steer the first call with the customer on the right course). Right answers to your right questions heavily define the contents of your further presentation and, therefore, its effectiveness.
In fact, the word SPIN itself encapsulates the classification of these questions. SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff. Thus, there are four types of questions that are targeted at these four essential categories. It should be noted that these four types of questions don’t have to be used in the strict order that the SPIN abbreviation seems to dictate. You can change the order of the questions as long as it is reasonable for the deal.
Also, the SPIN model can be implemented even if there’s no hurry to close the deal right away. The model may serve as an important stepping stone to the next negotiating phase (another meeting or presentation) and eventual closing of the deal.
Situation questions are the first to be asked. They are all about facts and figures that make up the context of the deal. However, their aim is not only to get a line on your customer (your best bet, though, is to do your homework beforehand). What situation questions can provide is the fertile ground for finding the customer’s pain points, though at this stage you just dip your toes in the problem you’ve got to provide a viable solution to.
The questions can cover the following areas: business goals, workplace efficiency, business expenses, processes, etc. Identifying the decision-maker is also important.
Although they have nothing to do with persuasion inherent to sales, bombarding customers with situation questions can do no good. To avoid this pitfall, ask only relevant questions.
The problem questions uncover a customer’s implied needs and determine whether your solution addresses the customer’s problem. And it’s essential for a salesperson to make sure that the product remedies the identified problem.
If situation questions allow you to dip your toes in the matter, problem questions prompt you to take a plunge. It’s time for you to ask what emotion is behind the facts and figures:
When something the customer says hints at an unmet need, get into the nuts and bolts of it:
Sometimes it doesn't take a genius to put two and two together and understand what exactly causes the problem. However, it’s often helpful to get the customer to speak and explain what the problem is down to. How? You can just ask a simple “Why?”, listen carefully to the answer, and, most importantly, resist the temptation to instantly offer a solution to the problem. Why? Because there are also implication questions that can motivate the customers to approach their problems even more seriously.
With implication questions, sales start to remind of сhess. The salesperson acts as a strategic thinker predicting what the identified problem is about to bring. Formulating effective implication questions means anticipating the negative effects and repercussions if the problem remains unsolved.
Interestingly enough, sometimes even the customers themselves have tunnel-vision views on their problems: they are often unaware of the implications they experience. The task of the salesperson at this stage is to point at the link between the cause and effect, often explaining it in a roundabout way and asking some situation questions to clarify the details.
The deeper you and your customer peer into the rabbit hole of the problem, the more urgent it is for the customer to solve it. And the solutions the salesperson provides may turn out to be more personalized and valuable for the customer if the implication questions are thought-out.
On the flip side of the coin, going over the top with such in-depth questions may be too overwhelming for the customer who may feel boxed into a corner. The salesperson should anticipate when the conversation might get bogged down in implication questions.
If problem and implication questions revolve around the customer’s problems, need-payoff questions finally allow the salesperson to get down to the solution, namely the value and importance of the solution offered:
Need-payoff questions not only shift focus on the product. When asking need-payoff questions, the salesperson pulls out the trump card by getting the customers to elaborate on the product’s benefits all by themselves. When the customers see the benefits for themselves, any doubts and objections may just gradually slip away the more the customers recognize the product’s value.
Need-payoff questions help dispel doubts and overcome objections while simultaneously spurring customers into action. However, asked too early, need-payoff questions can actually have the reverse effect and trigger points of friction that put the customer off.
What is the most impactful thing about the SPIN model is that it motivates both salespeople and customers to understand the full scope and root causes of the problem concerned. And customers start to find the further presentation to be the prerequisite for solving their problems, not just a formality.
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