Anybody that knows me real well, knows I “geek out” on the philosophy of selling. Many of us use some form of selling on a daily basis – sometimes without even knowing it. There are many new selling processes in vogue today that I really like and I will touch on those in future posts. However, I’m going to attempt to discuss a classic – one that I used in the past to win awards such as President’s Club, Ring Club, and Grand Awards with Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson. This (along with PSS) was the foundation of my skills and still relevant today. Here is part one. Part two will be out sometime next week…
‘SPIN’ is one of the most effective sales processes ever developed for succeeding in complex and major sale situations. Medical devices and biotechnology solutions fall, very much, into this category. Buying decisions in these situations are not spontaneous and emotional, they are made after due consideration.
Unlike more traditional selling processes, SPIN was developed by behavioral psychologists, who spent 7 years studying successful sales professionals in 3 different lines of business. They analyzed what they did and how they did it. Then they put together SPIN Selling as a successful strategy, specifically, for professionals who sell technical or detailed solutions to solve complex problems.
The Basis of SPIN Selling
Neil Rackham and his team saw that a moderately successful sales professional set objectives for the meeting with clients and prospective clients. They considered the discussion or the presentation was successful if ‘the objectives were met.’
The very successful colleague, however, set objectives that were specific to each step in the sale. Success for them was either an order or – and this is a critical difference – an advance in the decision-to-buy. An agreement to ‘meet again’ or to ‘think about it’ or to ‘discuss it with colleagues or a superior in the company’ was not considered ‘success’ because those agreements merely ‘continued’ the sales process, they did not ‘advance’ it.
What’s the Difference?
The difference between a ‘continuation’ and an ‘advance’ is simple but powerful. An advance always requires the prospect to perform a specific action that takes the prospect closer to making a positive decision to buy.
The problem was discovering how the successful professional actually achieved that kind of objective. The traditional sales process for a simple sale looks something like the AIDA acronym (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action).
The traditional process for more complex sales was AICDC (Attention-Interest-Conviction-Desire-Close). It was clear that successful professionals did not use either of these models. Rackham’s team had to clarify what they actually did. That led to a huge break-through.
The Foundation to SPIN Selling
Successful professionals followed a 4-Step process that looked like this:-
- Preliminaries – Setting the scene, finding out general or initial facts about the company, the department, the project, etc
- Investigating – Asking pertinent questions and collecting information about specifics that will help to expose and to clarify the prospect’s needs
- Demonstrating Capability – Linking those needs to the vendor’s strengths
- Obtaining Commitment – commitment by the prospect to do at least one thing that will advance the sale, or that will close the sale
The research team discovered that the professionals focused on Step 2. They dwelt on the Investigating Step. This had three powerful results:-
- The prospect became totally engaged in the discussion – because they were thinking about and talking about details, challenges, problems and intentions, rather than listening to the sales pro ‘present’ product or process features that the prospect then had to relate back to their own situation
- Both parties became very clear about the prospect’s situation, etc
- The sales pro was able to link the prospect’s situation, etc to possible solutions provided by the device or the process being sold – and the prospect was eager to investigate, plan, discuss, and arrange specific things that would move things forward
It all sounds rather obvious, today, but at the time, it was revolutionary.
Why Are Questions so Powerful?
Questions achieve clear results that the sales pro can use to advance the sale. Questions:-
- Get the prospect thinking, talking, and clarifying
- Control the prospect’s attention
- Engage the prospect’s mind in important ways which, in turn, uncover needs
- Produce answers and ideas, in a co-operative way, that actually persuade prospects to move forward
The Power of SPIN
This article has explored the foundation on which SPIN, itself, relies. In the next article we will look at the 4 parts of SPIN questioning. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about how we can help your commercial business to move forward, please contact us by clicking this link.
Please contact us if you are a commercial leader within a biotech or medical device company seeking your next great hire, or career advice for yourself. We look forward to the opportunity to help you excel in the future!
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