Today I continue my effort of continuing to break down this classic sales process. In Part I last week we looked at the foundation of SPIN, the 4 steps in a successful sale, and why questions are so powerful when working on a technical or complex sale. In this article we will look at the steps of SPIN Selling. (Contact us if you didn’t see part one and would like us to send directly).
Questions expose needs. But buying decisions are not made in one leap from a prospect saying “I have a need” to “Where do I sign?” People make purchase decisions when they consider that their need is big enough, and the solution is valuable enough, low risk enough, and cost-effective enough for them to ‘sign on the dotted line.’ Helping a prospect to move through that decision-process is where SPIN as a sales strategy comes into its own. SPIN helps a prospect to uncover, and understand their possible needs, and to develop them into explicit and definite needs.
Knowing you have an important need that should be met is one thing – deciding how to satisfy that need is another.
Using SPIN to Uncover Needs
Successful sales professionals follow 4 steps:-
- Demonstrating Capability
- Obtaining Commitment
Steps 1 and 2 are about uncovering needs. They are handled by the ‘SP’ in SPIN
This step is to do with facts, basic information, background data, etc. Many Situation questions can be asked long before an initial meeting, just by doing some internet-based research. Background concerning a specific project, etc, is more likely to be done face-to-face with a prospect.
“What’s working now?” is a Situation Question
Successful sales professionals tend to ask fewer Situation Questions than others, because they do this research before the meeting takes place.
P – Problem
Problem Questions expose needs. “What’s working now” gives you background information.
“How well is it delivering the results you need?”
“So what’s missing?”
“How could it be working better?”
“How satisfied are you with the way it’s working?”
“What are the drawbacks for your team/department/client/patient because of the way it’s working now?”
These are Problem Questions that cause the prospect to think about the current situation and to recognize that it could be better.
A Word of Caution
Knowing it could be better does not, automatically, lead to advancing the sale – so far it’s just a discussion. The prospect has to recognize the problem(s) and decide that they want rid of the problems. Then they have to decide if your possible solution is worth the effort/cost/time/risk/etc. That is where the ‘IN’ in SPIN advances the sale.
I – Implication
Implication Questions explore the ultimate outcome of living with the problem, rather than solving it. These questions convert basic needs into explicit needs – needs that should be met.
“What is the effect on your output/team/overtime costs/patient care/etc of it not working as well as you would like it to?”
“How would your (insert a word) change if it were working better?”
“And what is the long-term effect on your team/profit/patients of not solving that (problem)?
Implication Questions cause the prospect to explore, clarify and quantify. They give the sales professional the raw material for building the sales presentation that will lead to a sale.
The prospect may not have the answers to some questions, and further internal investigation may be needed. By agreeing to investigate specific issues in order to produce the answers – before the next meeting – is what we meant in Part I by ‘advancing the sale’ as opposed to just agreeing to a continuation of the discussions.
N – Need-Payoff
The sales professional has helped the prospect to clarify the current situation, expose problems, crystallize needs, understand, and quantify, the results of not solving the problems and satisfying the needs. It is, therefore, much easier for the solution that the sales pro will present to be seen as a solution of real value.
That is the Need-Payoff. “You have the need, I have the solution, you get the payoff by solving the problem and satisfying the need.” This is the point at which the sale is finally made. SPIN Selling leads to increased sales success.
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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