SPIN Selling

he key to sealing the deal in any sales call is SPIN, an acronym that describes questions that explore the situation, problem, implication and the need-payoff of any sales situation.

Of course, asking the right questions is just one part of making a successful sale, but you won’t close any deal if you don’t set yourself up for success from the start.

Working in sales is not all about winning million-dollar deals every day, as any salesperson can attest. Instead, the daily grind of making a call after call is often less than inspiring.

Traditional sales techniques are lazy, often following the same approach. A salesperson opens a call relating to a client’s interests; investigates the client’s needs through open-ended questions; outlines the benefits of the product; handles potential objections; and then, closes the deal.

While this might be fine for small sales, the bigger fish are harder to catch. All sales, whether big or small, move through four basic stages: preliminaries, investigations, demonstration of capabilities and finally, commitment. Of the four sales stages, the one that definitely makes or breaks a deal is your investigations. It’s this phase in which a salesperson can really reach out to a prospective client and make a connection.

Closing a deal is the moment when you get a client to commit to purchasing your product. Any salesperson will tell you that closing well is something that keeps even the most seasoned seller up at night!

Being told by a real estate agent that you’ll lose a deal if you don’t decide within 24 hours, for example, is more likely to annoy you than make you sign!

In small sales, a closing technique can speed up negotiations, while in big deals, prospects often want to take it slow. First, you’ve got to accept that every sales attempt doesn’t have to result in an immediate win or loss. A phone call can be valuable in its own right, leading to a sale at a later time. For example, you could set the next appointment or schedule a live demonstration.

Forget about closing, or about making the same sales calls over and over. Making a sale actually depends on knowing your client’s needs, which are often quite complex.

Needs may begin as small issues which develop into real problems, that then gives way to a strong desire for a solution. But needs to develop differently in small-scale situations as opposed to large-scale situations. Because of these differences, salespeople must identify a client’s needs and treat them accordingly.

Customers that know precisely what they want have explicit needs, such as the need to change their old copier for one that can print double-sided.

But customers may also have implied needs that might be revealed as they talk with you about general concerns, such as an ever-increasing consumption of printer paper.

Good salespeople know how to sniff out implied needs. But making a big sale requires more than just being a good listener. The key is to turn an implied need into an explicit need!

An implied need is a signal that a client wants to buy, but it’s a weak signal and needs to be strengthened.In sum, if you can seize on such implied signals and then point them out as explicit needs to your client, you’ll be able to much more easily convince them to purchase a more expensive solution that they actually need.

The handy acronym SPIN can help you remember: situation, problem, implication and need-payoff.

A smart salesperson comes up with good questions for a prospective client that address each of these areas. To learn about your prospect, you’ll start out with questions that explore the situation and the problem.

Situation questions get you the straight facts, such as “What computer equipment do you use?” or “Who is your current internet provider?”While important, don’t bore your prospect with too many situations, Problem questions get to the heart of the matter, as it’s here where you’ll discover your prospective client’s difficulties or dissatisfactions.

Although your potential client may see his problems as inconsequential, it’s your job to highlight them and build them up, bringing into the conversation the consequences of these problems that your client might not have considered, such as overtime costs or employee turnover.

However, you don’t want to depress your prospect by focusing only on his problems! Instead, your next step is to turn the conversation around to the solutions that you offer, using need-payoff questions. If you master the SPIN strategy, you’ll excel in each phase of a sale.

But Bottom line is that you need to find a balance. Be friendly and keep things personal, but never forget where you are and who you are talking to.

Ask yourself: If I were in my client’s position, what would I want to hear?

The purpose of an opening line is simple; you just have to ask the right questions that will allow you to move to the next step. Always remember the difference between features and benefits, A product’s benefits or advantages, however, show how your product may help your customer.

One another thing is don’t let your client throw objections, and if there are objections, prevent them in first chance. Salespeople often misunderstand a client’s objections. Sometimes, objections are seen as a sign of actual interest in an offer, and so aren’t viewed necessarily as a problem.

The way to handle objections is a big topic in many sales training courses, and salespeople are typically taught to re-word a client’s objection in a way that can then be addressed, for instance.

Incorporating SPIN into your own sales strategy isn’t done overnight. Practice makes perfect. Yet always remember that newly acquired skills aren’t the best things to practice in crucial situations. Not only do you put bigger things at risk, but you’ll also feel unsure of yourself.

That’s why big accounts aren’t the best place to practice. Instead, try out new skills with smaller and safer accounts, such as well-known and regular customers, until you know them inside out.

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